Futures Tour Member Carries World View To Next Tee

By Lisa D. MickeyNovember 12, 2004, 5:00 pm
Futures TourPerhaps it hit her, right there in the middle of the riverbed. Futures Golf Tour member Jennifer Greggain rode on the back of a kind-hearted Haitian man to the banks of the other side. This riverbed was dry when she had walked across earlier in the day to volunteer her services in a medical clinic. Now, she was being ferried back across as afternoon rainwater had filled the earthen crease, prompting this chivalrous gesture by the wading man.

Jennifer GreggainBefore she ever arrived in the Caribbean, Greggain had imagined Haiti, ravaged by floodwaters from September hurricanes that killed nearly 2,000 residents, reducing squalor to further desperation. In September, while she played the lush fairways of Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., she daydreamed about what she might encounter, wondering what she could offer the island's needy inhabitants and how she would be accepted.

Greggain advanced into next month's LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in Florida at that California Sectional qualifier, and she did it thinking all the thoughts she wasn't supposed to think while competing against some of the world's best women golfers. Now, balancing on the back of a stranger in an often-ignored region of the world, she discovered that the greatest gift wasn't medalist honors on an immaculate golf course, or even a paycheck. It was the strong shoulders of a grateful resident willing to serve as her transportation against the same tide that had devastated his homeland.

'Thinking about Haiti while I played in the sectional helped calm my nerves in a way,' she said. 'I had the sense that my life doesn't revolve around golf. That's how I played at the [U.S. Women's] Open this year and that's how I played at the sectional. After going there and living among the people of Haiti, with all that they need, I'm just not ever going to be worried about how I play golf.'

For two weeks in October, Greggain, 27, a native of Panorama City, Calif., and a current resident of Chilliwack, British Columbia, traveled with a team of 16 in a Canadian church-affiliated charity, called Hungry For Life International. Eight months ago, their original plan was to complete the construction of a church in Larac. The foundation had been poured for the building that would serve as a church, school and medical clinic, but funds had run out before the roof could be raised. Unfortunately, the roads to Larac had washed away in the floods before the team of construction workers, engineers, geo-techs, carpenters and medical specialists arrived.

The group's second plan was to administer help to the residents of Gonaive, where floodwaters had overtaken second-story buildings, contaminated fresh water supplies and devastated crops and livestock in the surrounding areas. But by the time the team had arrived, passage into the city was unsafe. Looters and robbers regularly intercepted food and water supplies from aid groups for personal consumption and black-market sales. So the group ended up in Grammothe, a small mountaintop village outside Port-au-Prince. Greggain's husband, Josh Greggain, in his final year of medical residency, volunteered in the village medical clinic.

'I'd never seen Josh work as a doctor before that time,' said his wife. 'In seven days, we saw more than 400 patients.'

The Greggains administered to sick children needing antibiotics, pregnant mothers with complications, malnourished residents and even those seeking minor surgery. One woman, who had suffered a stroke, walked for days and hiked up the mountain with a paralyzed left side to reach the clinic. Another 20-year-old woman, weighing 85 pounds and needing serious medical attention from a cardiac surgeon, sought medication for her heart defect.

'We brought $5,000 worth of medicine and the usual medical supplies, but sometimes we still felt helpless,' said Greggain, who assisted her husband, handing him sterile tools while he sutured injured patients.

Greggain checked patients into the clinic, weighed them and even treated children for scabies while her husband administered more medical expertise elsewhere in the sparsely furnished facility. Their worst experience was learning that a woman, seven months pregnant, had lost her baby prematurely.

'After we heard that the baby had died, we decided to make a house call and went into the village,' said Greggain. 'We talked to her and tried to comfort her. We told her it wasn't her fault.'

By visiting patients and going into their homes, the reality of their miserable living conditions became evident to Greggain and the team. Island residents live in mud huts with dirt floors. In the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Greggain observed mountains of garbage in the streets. Rules of the road were non-existent, making roadways hazardous to all vehicles and pedestrians. This was particularly noticeable to the team, whose mode of transportation was riding in the back of a 1985 Chevy pickup truck -- all 16 of them at once.

'Sometimes, it was quite overwhelming,' said Greggain, a fifth-year member of the Futures Golf Tour and winner of the 2000 NCAA Sportsperson of the Year Award while at the University of Washington. 'It put into perspective what is really important in life. In Haiti, it's about survival.'

And that was a key focus of the team's gentleman host, who started a church and school in the mountain region where they stayed. The man also installed irrigation, which helped grow crops for food to battle the malnutrition still plaguing much of Haiti.

'He was teaching the people ways to help themselves,' said Greggain.

The team lived in quarters that were very much like unair-conditioned summer cabins with beds and functional bathrooms. The water wasn't always hot, but they were fortunate to have running water. During the trip, half of the team suffered with gastro-intestinal disorders, which they affectionately called 'the Haitian Sensation.' Greggain's key discomfort was that she was 'a mosquito magnet.'

Communication was rarely a problem. Most members of the Canadian team were able to communicate in French with island residents, who speak Creole, a regionalized version of French.

'In the village, we got a warm welcome,' said Greggain. 'People were happy to see us -- happy that others cared about them. But there was great political unrest with violence in Port-au-Prince, so when we heard about that, we stayed away.'

With the school located next door to the medical clinic, the Greggains had the opportunity to meet many of the village children. And with her own two children back home in Canada staying with grandparents, Greggain couldn't help but think of six-year-old son, Darren, and three-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. Haitian youngsters asked where Canada was. They asked about her culture, her clothing and the way she wore her hair. Nobody knew she was a professional golfer. Nobody cared that, only months earlier, she had moved into the tournament field of the U.S. Women's Open as an alternate when injured LPGA Tour veteran Dottie Pepper withdrew.

'I tried not to think about golf and I tried to focus on what I was doing there,' said Greggain, who was the 1999 Washington State Public Links Champion. 'I found it very humbling to see what these children have, compared to what our children have back home.'

Josh and Jennifer Greggain decided to sponsor two Haitian children who are the same ages as their own children. Their hope was that Naomi Hermilus, 3, and Guy Nelus, 6, can exchange greetings with Darren and Elizabeth back in Canada. The Greggains hope to return to Haiti next year along with their children to meet their new Haitian pen pals.

'They can learn from each other,' said the golf-mom. 'I feel like the best way to educate my children is to show them the world.'

Greggain's world will change again when she arrives in Daytona Beach, Fla., Dec. 1-5, for the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament. She will be focused on that task when it comes, albeit with new perspective.

'I see so many women golfers out there who get burned out because they make their life their golf score,' she said. 'That kind of pressure is going to hurt anybody over time. We've done so much in Haiti that it's kind of hard for me to get out on the golf course again, but I know that once I'm there, I'll be fired up and ready to go. I'll go to Florida for Q-School and trust what I have. I know that I've already had a really good year.'

Indeed, it was a year of highlights this native Californian will never forget, ranging from the electrified gallery-ringed U.S. Women's Open with its fanfare and worldwide acclaim, to that isolated afternoon in Haiti, when she climbed on the back of a countryman who carried her to a distant shore.
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Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 9:54 pm

Brittany Lincicome will tee it up with a pair of rookies when she makes her first start in a PGA Tour event Thursday at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, is scheduled to go off the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET in the first round with Sam Ryder, 28, and Conrad Shindler, 29. They’re off the first tee Friday at 2:59 p.m. ET

Lincicome will become just the sixth woman to play in a PGA Tour event, joining Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie.

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



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Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 8:31 pm

Brittany Lincicome wondered how PGA Tour pros would greet her when she arrived to play the Barbasol Championship this week.

She wondered if there would be resentment.

She also wondered how fans at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., would receive her, and if a social media mob would take up pitchforks.

“I can’t stop smiling,” Lincicome said Tuesday after her first practice round upon arriving. “Everyone has been coming up to me and wishing me luck. That means a lot.”

PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, husband of LPGA pro Gerina Piller, welcomed her immediately.

Other pros sought her out on the practice putting green.

She said she was also welcomed joining pros at a table in player dining.

Fans have been stopping her for autographs.

“It has been an awesome reception,” said Dewald Gouws, her husband, a former long-drive competitor. “I think it’s put her much more at ease, seeing the reception she is getting. There’s a lot of mutual respect.”

Lincicome, 32, wasn’t sure if she would be playing a practice round alone Tuesday morning, but when she made her way to the first tee, Domenico Geminiani was there, just about to go off.

He waved Lincicome over.

“He said, `Hey, Brittany, do you want to join me?’” Gouws said. “Come to find out, Dom’s a pretty cool guy.”

Geminiani made it into the field as a Monday qualifier.

“The two of us were both trying to figure things out together,” Lincicome said.

Keene Trace will play to 7,328 yards on the scorecard. That’s more than 800 yards longer than Highland Meadows, where Lincicome finished second at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic last weekend. Keene Trace was playing even longer than its listed yardage Tuesday, with recent rains softening it.

Nicknamed “Bam Bam,” Lincicome is one of the longest hitters in the women’s game. Her 269.5 yard average drive is 10th in the LPGA ranks. It would likely be dead last on the PGA Tour, where Brian Stuard (278.2) is the last player on the stats list at No. 201.

“I think if I keep it in the fairway, I’ll be all right,” Lincicome said.

Lincicome is an eight-time LPGA winner, with two major championships among those titles. She is just the sixth woman to compete in a PGA Tour event, the first in a decade, since Michelle Wie played the Reno-Tahoe Open, the last of her eight starts against the men.

Lincicome will join Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Wie in the elite ranks.

Zaharias, by the way, is the only woman to make a 36-hole cut in PGA Tour history, making it at the 1945 L.A. Open before missing a 54-hole cut on the weekend.

What are Lincicome’s expectations?

She would love to make the cut, but . . .

“Just going to roll with it and see what happens,” she said. “This is once in a lifetime, probably a one-and-done opportunity. I’m just going to enjoy it.”

Lincicome grew up playing for the boys’ golf team at Seminole High on the west coast of Florida. She won a couple city championships.

“I always thought it would be cool to compete against the guys on the PGA Tour,” Lincicome said. “I tend to play more with the guys than women at home. I never would have gone out and told my agent, `Let’s go try to play in a PGA Tour event,’ but when Tom Murray called with this opportunity, I was really blown away and excited by it. I never in a million years thought I would have this opportunity.”

Tom Murray, the president of Perio, the parent company of Barbasol and Pure Silk, invited Lincicome to accept one of the tournament’s sponsor exemptions. Lincicome represents Pure Silk.

Lincicome said her desire to play a PGA Tour event is all about satisfying her curiosity, wanting to know how she would stack up at this level. She also wants to see if the experience can help take her to the next level in the women’s game.

As a girl growing up, she played Little League with the boys, instead of softball with the girls. She said playing the boys in golf at Seminole High helped her get where she is today.

“The guys were better, and it pushed me to want to be better,” Lincicome said. “I think playing with the guys [on the PGA Tour], I will learn something to take to LPGA events, and it will help my game, for sure.”

Lincicome has been pleased that her fellow LPGA pros are so supportive. LPGA winner Kris Tamulis is flying into Kentucky as moral support. Other LPGA pros may also be coming in to support her.

The warm fan reception Lincicome is already getting at Keene Trace matters, too.

“She’s already picked up some new fans this week, and hopefully she will pick up some more,” Gouws said. “I don’t think she’s putting too much expectation on herself. I think she really does just want to have fun.”

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Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

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Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”