Trip Dispatch: Warburton Celebrity Golf for Kids golf tourney rocks Palm Springs

By Mike BaileyMarch 4, 2014, 8:26 pm

PALM DESERT, Calif. -- As far as celebrity-am golf tournaments go, the Patrick Warburton "Golf for Kids" event conducted this past weekend at the JW Marriott Desert Springs and Classic Club rates pretty high. It might not have the "A" list of Academy Award-winning celebrities like the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the PGA Tour, but it does a nice job of filling the celebrity void left by the old Bob Hope Classic (now the Humana Challenge), which no longer fields TV and movie stars.

Best of all, only in its fourth year, Warburton's weekend raised close to $900,000 for St. Jude Children's Hospital, a place in Memphis, Tenn., where no child with cancer is turned away and no family ever pays. Warburton's passion for the cause belies the monotone characters he played on TV such as David Puddy on "Seinfeld" and the macho Jeff Bingham on "Rules of Engagement," although he deflected praise to his tournament chairman Clarke Rheney, who Warburton says spends more than 1,000 hours working on this event.

Warburton and his wife Cathy got sucked into the cause a few years ago after Warburton played in Jim McMahon's Super Bowl tourney in Miami. McMahon's event benefits St. Jude, too, and Warburton decided to visit the hospital afterwards to read to the children, showcasing his natural talent, considering how many voices he does for animation projects. He soon decided to host an event himself.

"It's not a sad place. It's set up so the kids have fun there," said Warburton, who plays golf to a 16 handicap. "It's the best place in the world if you're a sick child and for those parents who have nowhere else to go. St. Jude is a place with answers."

I was fortunate enough this past weekend to play in Warburton's event and attend the festivities surrounding it. Hosted by the fabulous JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, more than a couple hundred golfers and nongolfers joined about 50 celebrities in what was deemed a "party for a cause." It started with a songwriters session on Thursday night, a jam session on Friday night, followed by a  more formal gala and auction Saturday night.

Friday's jam, by the way, absolutely rocked. Backed up by a terrific collection of musicians known as Sixwire, the evening went past midnight, featuring talent from some of rock 'n' roll's best bands. Musicians included such greats as Mike Mills from R.E.M., Jeff Hanna of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and John Elefante of Kansas. I was even impressed with CNN anchor Robin Meade, who rocked out a duet with Mickey Thomas, formerly of Jefferson Starship.


Mike Mills of R.E.M. jams at the J.W. Marriott Desert Springs. 

On Saturday night, though, there was hardly a dry eye in house after Rick Shadyak and Craig Dismuke addressed the crowd during the gala. Shadyak, CEO for St. Jude, spoke eloquently of the mission of the great hospital, which has taken the cancer survival rate of its young patients from less than 20 percent 50 years ago when late actor Danny Thomas founded it to close to 90 percent now.

"We won't stop until no child dies of cancer," he said.

Dismuke shared the story of his 5-year-old son Ingram's battle with a rare brain cancer, Anaplastic Ependymoma. His moving recount of what his family and son, nicknamed "Ingram the Conqueror," have been through over the past two years reminded everyone of what this was about.

But as Warburton said, "While we're here, everybody celebrates life and nobody needs to apologize for that. It's a party but everyone is really cognizant of why we're really here."

Golf at the JW Marriott Desert Springs and Classic Club

Golf was Saturday and Sunday respectively on the recently renovated JW Marriott's Palms Course and the Classic Club (in the Bob Hope rotation from 2006-'08) down the street. Both courses were in terrific shape, our weather held out (there was a severe threat of rain on Saturday) and some of these celebrities, not to mention guests, had game.

My group got to play with Eric Dickerson, who has a daughter with health challenges. Eric and his wife Penny know what it's like to spend sleepless nights at the hospital worrying about a sick child. At the same time, though, Dickerson, who plays to a 7, showed the same athletic drive he had as a player in the NFL when he set (and still holds) the NFL single season rushing record at 2,105 yards in 1984 as a Los Angeles Ram. Dickerson, who hits a power fade about 320 yards off tee, fired a 76 when we all had to play our own ball on Sunday at the Arnold Palmer-designed Classic Club (I lost a side wager to him, by the way).

The best player of the celebrity lot, however, was Oliver Hudson, one of Warburton's co-stars on "Rules" and a regular on the series "Nashville." The handsome lefthander, who is the son of Goldie Hawn and sister of Kate Hudson, has been as a good as a plus-2. Warburton says playing with Hudson is like competing with a tour player. Apparently, he can't get enough strokes.

One of the most entertaining highlights on Sunday, however, came when long drive champion and trick shot artist Dan Boever employed comedian Gary Valentine of "King of Queens" in his act before the second round. Boever dressed Valentine (who is the older brother of Queens star Kevin James) up in protective gear, including a baseball player's cup, as he fired skulled wedge shots (with soft nerf-like balls, fortunately) into Valentine's mid-section:


In the end, the most important part, though, was the check, which was presented for $881,000 to St. Jude. It  brings the four-year total to well over $2.5 million. The 2014 money doesn't even cover a day's operating expenses of $1.9 million, but it's a pretty good start, Warburton said.

"There are times where you feel that we're not able to get as much done as you want," he said, "but it's all good because what you do with an event like this is also create more awareness."


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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.”