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Brittany Lincicome: LPGA Star Honors Her Roots In Tampa Bay

Brittany Lincicome swings during a photo shoot for one of her sponsors. - Julie Busch
Brittany Lincicome swings during a photo shoot for one of her sponsors. - Julie Busch

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Brittany Lincicome has been a winner all over the world. With three wins on the LPGA Tour and other amateur and pro-am wins that span the globe, she's made an imprint just about everywhere on a golf course except in her hometown of St. Petersburg.

That's because there are no women's professional golf tournaments in St. Petersburg. In fact, the LPGA has gone several years without even a visit to the state of Florida even though the Tour is headquarted in Daytona Beach.

Lincicome, 24, has her LPGA victories, including a win at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, but she's more active off the course than on, especially in St. Petersburg. She works for many local charities, and one of her big concerns now is to help the fledgling St. Petersburg Sports Alliance get off the ground. She, and many other local athletes who have gained prominence on a national level, have formed the group to raise awareness that St. Petersburg can be the sports capital of Florida's West Coast.

Lincicome is the only  professional golfer among the nearly 50 members of the board, so she is taking the reins on trying to bring an LPGA event to Tampa Bay. LPGA events bring in large amounts of dollars to local charities, so Lincicome has taken a special interest.

"I will do anything for St. Pete,'' Lincicome says while sitting at the Bardmoor Golf & Country Club after a photo shoot for a sunglass company she endorses. "I have been in constant contact with the mayor of St. Pete. We agree that we need to bring some more events to St. Pete. We have huge plans and there are plenty of facilities here. We have several golf courses that can host events, so we have to get it done.''

Starting Early, Playing Late

One of the biggest priorities of the alliance is to bring spring training baseball back to Al Lang Stadium. It's been missing since the Tampa Bay Rays moved to Port Charlotte in 2009.

"I'm working on golf, but it's important to bring baseball back,'' Lincicome says. "We can get a lot done and it's important because this is such a great region for sports.''

Lincicome has chalked up an impressive LPGA career: along with three wins and a major championship, she has two top-10 finishes this season and, on June 15, was in the middle of a five-event run to lead up to the Women's U.S. Open. It's rare that any professional golfer plays five straight weeks, but she is involved with charities all over the country, so priorities are more important than rest, she says.

"I am fortunate to be in the position where I can raise money,'' Lincicome says. "It's not a problem. It's an honor. I'll so anything I can to help whoever I can.''

Lincicome started at the relatively late age of 9, playing the par-3 East Bay Executive Course in Largo. Once she started, she never stopped. Her dad, Tom, took her every day and she could soon beat her brothers Hunter and Bryan.

"My dad always took pride in beating me,'' Lincicome says. "I could beat my brothers pretty soon after I started, but when I started to beat my dad, I knew I could play.''

Lincicome lost a key figure in her life when her grandmother succumbed to breast cancer two years ago and has a special interest in raising money to defeat it. When she heard that former LPGA standout Val Skinner was speaking about breast cancer at an event in Illinois recently, she jumped on the bandwagon and hasn't let go. At the event, Skinner spoke about former LPGA star Heather Farr, who died of breast cancer in 1993 at the age of 28. Lincicome says she had no previous idea that breast cancer can be passed on genetically and said she started to think about her own life. More than 40,000 women die of the disease each year.

Giving Back To Others

Lincicome hasn't stopped there. She's also involved with Veins For Life, a cancer awareness program that helps patients and caregivers understand chemotherapy. She routinely hands out autographed cards with her photo on the front and information on Veins for Life on the back.

Even after that, there's more to do. She's a sponsor of The First Tee program that teaches underprivileged kids in the Tampa Bay area the game of golf and she also takes part in the LPGA's Big Sister program, taking rookies under her wing to teach them the intricacies of the Tour, ranging from dealing with the media to working out travel arrangements.

It's a long day for Lincicome and most of it is off the golf course. She still lives in St. Petersburg when she isn't on the road and recently moved into her own townhome for the first time, and she says she won't forget her roots. She has thrown out the first ball at Tampa Bay Rays games twice, even though she forgot to bring shoes the first time and took a lot of giggles when she had to do the whole thing in flip-flops. Still, she threw an almost perfect strike. She's also a regular at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino where she enjoys playing Texas Hold'em. A card hand that might bring in $20 is more nerve-racking, she says, than making a four-footer for half a million dollars.

The time on and off the golf course and the casino is great, but Lincicome says it's the work she does for St. Petersburg and her new job with the Alliance keeps her going.

"This town has meant so much to me and I won't forget it,'' Lincicome says. "I'll do anything for Tampa Bay. I grew up here and don't ever plan to leave. Golf is fun, but I feel a sense to help out the community and that's really important to me. This is a great place to live.''

Jeff Berlinicke of Tampa is a freelance writer who has spent much of the last 15 covering professional sports all over the Southeast United States. When not rooting for his favorite teams, he often can be found listening to Bruce Springsteen or teeing up on local golf courses. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.

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