Lincicome happy to choose life over golf

By Randall MellMarch 29, 2016, 7:44 pm

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – There is something almost gravity defying about Brittany Lincicome’s game.

It isn’t in the way her golf ball challenges Newton’s Law, soaring higher and farther than most of her peers. It’s in the way she breaks so unapologetically from the sport’s slavish conventions.

Lincicome is back at Mission Hills this week to defend her title at the ANA Inspiration. She’s an American original in the women’s game.

At 30 now, Lincicome isn’t ruled by the ambition that fills driving ranges from sun up until sun down at LPGA events.

She isn’t driven to be the best player in the game.

She doesn’t aspire to be No. 1, to break records or make it to the Hall of Fame.

Lincicome isn’t daring to be great.

She’s daring to be happy in a profession that makes so many of her colleagues miserable.

As cheery and agreeable as Lincicome always seems to be, she’s a rebel this way.

Lincicome confesses crimes against the player code that you won’t hear any other player not named Laura Davies confess. Lincicome doesn’t have a coach. She hasn’t had a lesson in at least three years, maybe four. She unabashedly admits to loving her naps and hating to practice. She doesn’t spend much time on the practice range. Mostly, when she’s there, she’s warming up to play, because that’s what she loves. She loves to play.

ANA Inspiration: Articles, photos and videos

If Lincicome is going to be anywhere from sun up to sun down, it’s on her boat, fishing in the Gulf of Mexico near her St. Petersburg home. She has a 24-foot Sheaffer fishing boat designed to her personal specifications.

She named it “Taking Relief.”

What’s her idea of a perfect day? It’s a day with her newlywed husband, Dewald Gouws. Though he’s also in the game as a professional long driver, her perfect day isn’t spent on a golf course with him, though they play a lot together.

“My sponsors hate me saying this, but it’s a day of fishing,” Lincicome said. “It’s getting up with the sun, getting on the boat, getting your bait and heading out. When the water’s dead calm, it’s so much more fun. You can see for miles, and the things you see, turtles, dolphins, stingray, manta rays ...

“I like catching goliath groupers. We have a spot where we usually go, about 13 miles out, over a sunken tug boat. The goliath groupers can range from 100 pounds to 700 pounds. A guide once told me they’re like reeling in a Volkswagen beetle with its doors open.”

The largest goliath grouper Lincicome has ever caught?

“About 400 pounds,” she said. “You can’t really weigh them.”

The major championships Lincicome has won in her career are her goliath groupers of golf. She also won the ANA Inspiration back in 2009, when it was the Kraft Nabisco.

Lincicome said there was “validation” winning her second major, but she says she did not set out in her career burning to win one. She doesn’t look back overly disappointed that she didn’t win a third major in that playoff loss to Inbee Park at the LPGA Championship two seasons ago. Instead, she looks back delighted that she played this game she loves so well that somebody handed her six LPGA trophies at the end of tournaments.

“I can’t think that losing a tournament would ever be devastating to my career,” Lincicome said. “I can’t think of losing something that would ruin a number of years for me.

“When I was growing up playing, I thought it would be cool just to be on the driving range with Annika Sorenstam, Juli Inkster and Lorena Ochoa. When I turned pro, I didn’t even know if I would be able to keep my card, but I’ve been blessed to have kept my card every year I’ve been out here, knock on wood. I’ve been blessed to win six times. I think I’ve accomplished a lot. Six wins is pretty good.”

Yeah, Lincicome knows the wrath she invites from people who wonder what she might achieve if she pushed herself harder. She isn’t immune to the criticism. She admits she has wondered, too.

“To be like Lydia Ko or Stacy Lewis, always finishing in the top 10, to always be in contention, I’ve wondered where my balance should be,” Lincicome said. “Do I need to practice more? Would that help me? Or would it hurt me?”

What Lincicome has learned is that she’s miserable when she grinds away, looking for perfection in her swing. She says her game gets worse. That’s not to say she doesn’t work at her game. She does in practice rounds, but she’s not a technical player, and she doesn’t think a lot about technique. She isn’t on Track Man looking at her numbers and she doesn’t break down video looking at what positions she’s getting her club into. She’s a feel player, and Lincicome feels she's at her best when she’s fresh.

“It’s important as a player that you understand what works for you,” Gouws said. “Britt realizes when she’s putting in too much time, she gets frustrated with the game. She plays her best when it’s still a game for her, when she finds her happy place. I promise you, when Britt is excited about playing golf, she’s going to play good golf.”

When something’s awry with Lincicome’s swing, she’ll ask Pederson and Gouws about it and then go to work on it in a practice round.

“She’s such a phenom, and that’s enough for her,” Gouws said. “She has figured out what works for her.”

Lincicome is a rebel in today’s game, a mutineer who plays golf for fun, an insurrectionist unbound and untethered by social gravity’s pull.

“I’m sure people have told Brittany that she needs to practice more, but she hasn’t changed who she is, and I think that’s pretty cool,” said Angela Stanford, who has watched Lincicome grow since joining the tour as a rookie. “She just keeps doing her thing. She believes in what she’s doing, how she should go about things. I think if she were out there grinding all the time, she would be miserable.”

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam” for her power, but Stanford marvels at how well rounded her game is.

“She is an amazing talent,” Stanford said. “She obviously bombs it, but the thing I’ve always said about Bam is how great her hands are. Around the green, I’ve seen her hit chip shots where I’m thinking, `How does a girl who can bomb it like she does hit shots so soft?’ And her putting. I enjoyed being her Solheim Cup partner because you know she’s going to make a putt.”

Lincicome sees the game as just that. It’s a game. It’s’ one dimension of her larger life.

“If you dedicate your whole life to golf, you can wake up when you’re 50 and have nothing else,” Lincicome said. “You can find you don’t have a family, and you haven’t really lived your life. That would be a big regret for me. I don’t want to have those regrets.”

That’s why meeting Gouws three years ago was such an important turn in Lincicome’s life. She went to Mesquite, Nev., to cheer for her friend, Trevor Consavage, in a long drive competition.

Sitting in the bleachers, paging through a program, Lincicome wondered aloud to a friend how the brackets worked. Seated a couple rows in front of Lincicome, Gouws offered his help. He was also in the competition.

“I thought he was cute, and he had really big muscles,” Lincicome said.

After the competition, Lincicome and Gouws met again at a casino bar where all the competitors hung out. Gouws, a South African with little knowledge of the LPGA, had no idea who Lincicome was or that she was a major champion. When Lincicome briefly stepped away, another friend of Gouws began raving about what a great LPGA player she was.

“We don’t get to see much LPGA on TV in South Africa, but my friend kept going on and on about her,” Gouws said. “I told him I don’t really care, she’s just a really a cute blonde I’m enjoying having a conversation with, but he wouldn’t stop.”

Gouws asked his friend if he would shut up if he walked over and asked Lincicome to autograph his chest.

“I was joking,” Gouws said.

But moments later, somebody handed Gouws a Sharpie. So, he walked over to Lincicome and asked if she would sign his chest.

And she obliged.

“I thought he was going to take his whole shirt off, so I was kind of disappointed when he only pulled down the front of his shirt,” Lincicome said.

Lincicome and Gouws didn’t stop talking for two hours, and they stayed in contact by cell phone, texts and emails when Gouws returned to his South African home. Three months after they met, Consavage booked a trip to South Africa to see Gouws and begged Lincicome to join him.

“I’m like `Are you crazy? My dad will never let me fly to South Africa to see a boy I’d just met,’” Lincicome said.

But Lincicome did go, and Gouws gave her and Consavage the grand tour of his homeland. He took them on safari, where they played with lion cubs and survived a scary charge by a bull elephant. They toured Cape Town and the wineries of the region. Their romance really began there, leading to their marriage in December.

“We watched our wedding for the first time on video the other day,” Gouws said. “I asked her if she knew how incredible our story is, how we are from different parts of the world but we were able to meet the way we did. Who would have thought?”

Lincicome doesn’t hide the fuller life she seeks with “D,” her pet name for Gouws, and how, once again, golf isn’t what comes first in this broader life she craves. She wants to be a mother.

“I would love to have a family tomorrow,” Lincicome says. “Write that, and I’ll tell ‘D’ to read it.

“I understand we just got married, and we need to focus on us a little bit before we start a family, but I’ve already been asking a million questions to the moms on tour, what it’s like raising a family out here, how traveling can be like a circus. I’d love to be at home, doing nothing when we start a family, but I realize I will probably be playing with a family, that I’ll probably need to work a couple more years before retiring.”

And remember what Gouws said. When his wife’s happy, she plays her best. So there shouldn’t be any counting her out of winning more majors, even with children in tow. After all, Lincicome doesn’t need as much practice as most players.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.