Lexi Thompson, Brittany Lincicome to add LPGA component to Diamond Resorts Invitational

Lexi Thompson, Brittany Lincicome to add LPGA component to Diamond Resorts Invitational

LPGA Tour

Lexi Thompson, Brittany Lincicome to add LPGA component to Diamond Resorts Invitational

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Diamond Resorts Invitational, already a mixed event with sports and entertainment celebrities and PGA Tour Champions players, announced another wrinkle Monday.

The second annual event will not only host two tournaments (a celebrity event and a PGA Tour Champions get together) but will also include LPGA players.

Lexi Thompson and Brittany Lincicome have committed to the field for the Diamond Resorts Invitational, set to take place at Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Resort Orlando from Jan. 13-15. Thompson, Lincicome and one other LPGA player will join 27 PGA Tour Champions pros in competition over 54 holes for $750,000.

The celebrities, meanwhile, will compete for $500,000 in prize money. The scoring format will be Modified Stableford for both competitions. While the celebrities and pros will compete in distinct tournaments, they will be paired together in threesomes, with each group having a PGA Tour Champions or LPGA player and two celebrities.

Lincicome, a two-time major champion and six-time LPGA winner, is itching for next month’s proceedings.

“To be able to play with PGA Tour Champions players, it’s going to be an incredible week and I’m so excited,” Lincicome said.

With female and male pros playing together for the same prize, it brings back the days of the JCPenney Classic, a male-female team event that once boasted a grouping of Tiger Woods and Kelli Kuehne.

Lincicome said she actually used to be a standard bearer for that tournament, and “always loved going out and watching the guys play with the girls.”

Last week, Thompson, a seven-time LPGA champion including the 2014 ANA Inspiration, teamed up with Bryson DeChambeau at the Franklin Templeton Shootout.

The sentiment all around seems to be the pros would relish more male-female opportunities.

“The mixed team event was a great way to end the year. It was in December, you chose your partner, you went out and played and it just blended the tours together,” said John Cook, a PGA Tour Champions player competing in next month’s Diamond Resorts Invitational. “To grow the game of golf, you have to integrate these tours.”

For the event, 48 celebrities are anticipated to compete. Among the notable commitments are defending champion Mardy Fish, Emmitt Smith, Jake Owen, Mark Mulder, Justin Verlander, Alfonso Ribeiro and Mark Rypien.

The full PGA Tour Champions field hasn’t been finalized yet but already includes John Daly, Mark Calcavecchia, Woody Austin, Lee Janzen, Jeff Sluman, Billy Mayfair and Cook. This is the first year with the PGA Tour Champions (and now LPGA) competition.

Mulder, a former Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who has won the last two American Century Celebrity Golf Championships, doesn’t have any misconceptions about how good pro golfers are.

But he feels their inclusion adds a new dimension to the event for the celebrities regardless.

“I played with (PGA Tour winner) Chez Reavie the other day and he played terrible, and shot 67. He really played terrible, but that’s what they do. They shoot 65 in their underwear and flip-flops,” Mulder said. “It’s amazing how good these guys are, and be able to tee it up next to these PGA Tour Champions guys, it’s going to be a challenge to me because I love that. I love playing with those guys who are better because I want to compete with them.”

The Diamond Resorts Invitational will be the final of two “Challenge Season” events to start the 2017 PGA Tour Champions schedule.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge kicked off the Challenge Season last week, with David Duval and stepson Nick Karavites earning a one-shot victory.

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