WASHINGTON, United States - Brittany Lincicome, hoping to be a trailblazer, will become only the sixth woman to compete in a men's PGA Tour event when she tees off Thursday at the Barbasol Championship.
The 32-year-old American, a two-time major champion and eight-time LPGA winner, will be among 132 starters at Keene Trace Golf Club while most of the top men's players compete in the British Open at Carnoustie. "I'm really, really excited," Lincicome said in an essay on The Players Tribune website. "I'll just be out here swinging for the fences and having the time of my life."
Swedish superstar Annika Sorenstam became the first woman in 58 years to appear in a PGA event when she played the Colonial in 2003, missing the cut. Michelle Wie later played in a handful of PGA events, never making the cut. Babe Zaharias and Suzy Whaley also competed in PGA tournaments. "All the girls in the locker room thought it was awesome," Lincicome told reporters. "That was really cool. They have been really supportive."
While her nerves were tested being in contention last week, Lincicome expects she will be nervous at the start - "I'm sure the first three or four holes I will be." Lincicome wrote in her essay she pondered accepting the offer to play on a sponsor's exemption for days because she worried "about how this whole thing might backfire or cause some people to lash out toward me."
"I'm not trying to compare myself to the guys. I'm not trying to compare our games. I just want to go out and have a good time," Lincicome said. "It will be like playing in a major, but with the guys. I just want to have fun."
Lincicome recalled playing on a high school boys golf team, with rivals unhappy to risk losing to a girl. "I was never someone those guys were happy to see," she wrote. "But you know what? I soldiered on. I didn't let that stop me. I loved competing against the guys. It allowed me to improve more rapidly because I needed to work hard to keep up. The decision to ignore any outside distractions and just go play golf seems to have worked out OK for me after all."
It’s not everyday you get to go to a pro-am party in a castle!
Ahead of her @PGATOUR debut @Brittany1golf got to hang out with 2018 LPGA rookie @talley_emma who is playing in the @BarbasolChampKY pro-am tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/f2SMaPNLlM
Thinking of today's young female golfers ensured Lincicome would take the PGA opportunity. "The more I thought about whether to play in this event, the more I kept coming back to all the younger girls who I might be able to connect with and inspire by doing this," she wrote. "I thought about how an opportunity like this might be able to make a difference in how people think about our sport in the future. I truly believe if you're a girl and you're good, you should practice, play and compete with the guys as much as you can."
And Lincicome hasn't heard any negative words about her playing against men. "It has been wonderful. In every way it has been like a dream," she wrote. "No one has been a jerk to me about my decision. Not one person has been nasty or sexist or anything. No one has cursed me out or told me to stick to the women’s game. Maybe by the time those girls are my age, there will be lots more opportunities for PGA and LPGA pros to compete and play against each other."