Meet the Rookie Class of 2002

By Martha BrendleDecember 11, 2001, 5:00 pm
Twenty-seven strong. This is the number of women who are now a part of the 2002 LPGA Tour rookie class. They range in age from 18 to 27 years old and have come from all corners of the world ' each with their own story.
Catherine Cartwright of Bonita Springs, Fla., made her way through the grueling LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament ' or Q-School as it has come to be known ' finishing in a tie for 31st. She is the youngest member - at 18 years old ' of the 27 rookies. Yet Cartwright ' who stands six feet tall - makes up in stature what she lacks in years. Natalie Gulbis, the second-youngest member of the 2002 Tour by two months, turns 18 in March. She was the youngest player in history to Monday qualify for an LPGA event (1997 Longs Drugs Challenge at the age of 14) and is the only American rookie to gain exempt status for 2002 season.
Diane Irvin of Los Angeles is on the other end of the age spectrum at 37 years old. She is the oldest rookie in the 2002 class. A graduate of UCLA, she practiced law from 1991-1995. But this winter, after earning non-exempt status, Irvin will be practicing her golf game.
Not all of the rookies were subject to the rigors of Q-School. Since 1999 the SBC Futures Tour has offered a free ticket past Q-School and directly onto the Tour to the top three season money winners. This year Beth Bauer, Angela Buzminski and Jung Yeon Lee of Seoul, Korea, were the lucky three.
Bauer has had an interesting, albeit bumpy, road to the LPGA Tour. The Duke University standout left school after two years, turned professional in August of 2001 and headed straight for Q-School. It was there that she learned just how hard playing professional golf would be. Bauer did not make her card and played on the Futures Tour in 2001 where she recorded four wins, finished first on the money list and set a single-season earnings record with $81,529 in earnings. I think not getting my card was a blessing in disguise, Bauer said. I dont know if I would have been as successful (playing) on the LPGA and I have gained tremendous confidence in my game, which is only going to make me a better player.
Buzminski automatically earned a Tour card by finishing second on the SBC Futures Tour. The 30-year-old will enjoy the status of being the only lefty on Tour in 2002.
Jung Yeon Lee rounded out the top three after barely edging out countrywoman Ju Yun Kim by a mere $211 in prize money. It was enough to avoid Q-School and go directly to the big league.
In all, there are three rookies from Seoul, Korea. Jung Yeon Lee, Ara Koh ' the 2000 Korean LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year - and Sun Hee Lee.
Korea is not the only Asian country to produce talented young players. Mayumi Nakajima of Nagano, Japan, finished eighth on the Futures Tour money list in 2001 and tied for 21st at Q-School - missing exempt status by a mere two shots. Shiho Katano of Tokyo, Japan, finished 13th in her third trip to Q-School. Candie Kung of Taiwan also joins the rookie class.
The Ladies European Tour (LET) is losing four-year player Anna Sanchez of Malaga, Spain. Sanchez showed her tenacity after surviving a five-way sudden-death playoff in stage two to advance to the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament where she finished 31st to earn non-exempt status. Also switching sides of the Atlantic is Giulia Sergas of Triest, Italy ' the 2000 LET Bill Johnson Rookie of the Year ' as well as Jeanne-Marie Busuttil and Marine Monnet of Paris, France, Caroline Hall of Bristol, England, Marlene Hedblom of Gayle, Sweden, and JoAnne Mills of Sydney, Australia.
The third time was a charm for Elizabeth Bowman of Bonita, Cal. Three years ago Bowman missed her card by $154 ' this year she was medallist at the second stage. Bowman, a professional since 1993, ran away with the second sectional at Q-School in Rancho Mirage, Cal., by 10 shots. This was her fifth appearance at final Q-school and she finished with a final round of 68 to tie for 25th to earn non-exempt status.
Most people who subject themselves to the trials of Q-School know what they want. Their goals are clear. This was not the case of Hilary Homeyer of Edina, Minn. ' a four-time All-American at Stanford University. She wasnt sure if the wanted to pursue a pro golf career. But after tying for 31st in her first attempt at gaining a Tour card and earning non-exempt status - her choice was clear.
Stephanie Keever turned pro June 17th just days after playing in the U.S. Womens Open as an amateur graduate of Stanford and joins the 2002 rookie class with teammate Homeyer.
Others to earn non-exempt status were Nicole Dalkas, Miriam Nagl - who attended Arizona State for one year before joining the Futures Tour - Jill Gomric, a University of Arizona alumna and Clarissa Childs, who will be leaving her post as assistant golf coach at the University of South Carolina to join the 2002 LPGA Tour. Childs already has her first sponsor, South Carolina rock band Hootie and the Blowfish.
Twenty-seven womens dreams have come true. They will play on the LPGA Tour. In the coming year we shall see just what these women are made of. And the real question of whether there is another Laura Diaz or Karrie Webb in their midst will be revealed.
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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.”