Golf

‘I just can’t stop smiling.’ Lincicome’s ready for PGA Tour debut in Kentucky.

Brittany Lincicome walked the course at Champions at Keene Trace on Tuesday during a practice round ahead of the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship.
Brittany Lincicome walked the course at Champions at Keene Trace on Tuesday during a practice round ahead of the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship. swalker@herald-leader.com

Pioneer. Role model. Person seeking advice on relaxation techniques.

As the sixth woman to play in a PGA Tour event, Brittany Lincicome will wear many visors at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club.

“I’m super excited,” she said Tuesday. “I always thought it’d be cool to play in a men’s event, but never did I think I’d have the opportunity. ... I just can’t stop smiling. It’s just kind of a cool kind of week to be here, and I can’t wait for Thursday.”

Perhaps in an unwitting nod to University of Kentucky basketball, Lincicome called playing in the Barbasol event this week “probably a one-and-done opportunity.”

Lincicome, who has won eight times on the LPGA Tour and finished second this past weekend in the Marathon LPGA Classic, said that she expects to be nervous on Thursday.

“The first two or three holes, I’ll be a nervous wreck, for sure,” she said.

Lincicome, 32, apparently hides her nerves well. She said her fellow pros on the LPGA Tour comment on her steadiness.

“They’re like, ‘If anybody can do it, it’s you,’” she said. “‘You’re so relaxed, and you never seem nervous.’

“But I promise you, even last week in Toledo (at the Marathon LPGA Classic), I was super nervous.”

Playing in the Barbasol event makes Lincicome only the third woman to compete in a PGA Tour event since 1974.

None of her predecessors — Babe Didrickson Zaharias (1935-1946), Shirley Spork (1952), Annika Sorenstam (1971-74), Suzy Whaley (2003) and Michelle Wie (2004-2008) — made the cut in their attempts.

“I’d love to shoot under par (or) around par,” Lincicome said. “I think that goes hand in hand with making the cut. Obviously, I’ve heard many times I can be the first LPGAer or female person to make the cut. (I’m) trying to block that all out and play and have fun.”

The response to her trailblazing has been supportive, perhaps to a surprising degree, she said.

“Everybody on social media has been awesome as well,” she said. “It’s great. You never know how they’ll handle it. But I haven’t had to block anybody, and everybody has been very nice.”

After a pause and a laugh, she added, “Because I will block.”

Lincicome spoke enthusiastically about co-ed competition involving women and men. “I think it’s great,” she said. She played on her high school’s boys’ golf team.

“The guys were better, their games were better,” she said of that experience, “and (they) pushed me to want to be better.”

Inspiration can be a two-way street, Lincicome said. She suggested the men might benefit from her example.

“Maybe lighten up a little bit on the course,” she said. “When I hit a bad shot, I try to still be chatty and not be uptight about it. ... The more I’m chatty on the golf course, the better I’m playing.”

Lincicome embraced the idea of being a golfing role model for a boy or girl.

“If I can inspire one child to pick up the game of golf and want to play, I feel my job as a pro has succeeded,” she said.

Lincicome is scheduled to tee off Thursday at 9:59 a.m. on the 10th hole, and on Friday at 2:59 p.m. on the first hole.

Hole-in-one

Michael Thompson, a native of Tucson, Ariz., who played in college for Tulane and Alabama, shot a hole-in-one during Tuesday’s practice round. He aced a 205-yard hole with a 5-iron.

“Looked perfect the whole way, right at it,” his caddy, Chris Jones, texted. “Landed a few yards short and rolled in like a putt.”

Thompson has one win on the PGA Tour. His best finish in a major was a tie for second in the 2012 U.S. Open.

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