2012 ISPS Handa Heroes
Lewis & King win nine-hole scramble.
Brittany Lincicome and Stacy Lewis teased each other. Pat Bradley and Nancy Lopez praised each other's shots.
And eight women's golfers received $80,000 for their charities Monday in the inaugural ISPS Handa Heroes at TwinEagles Golf Club before over 750 fans.
Those fans got to see the LPGA's past — Bradley, Lopez, Betsy King and Jan Stephenson — and its present and future in Player of the Year Lewis, Lincicome, Paula Creamer and 17-year-old Lexi Thompson. Each current player was paired with a legend in the nine-hole scramble that was taped and will be shown at 8 p.m. Wednesday on the Golf Channel.
They covered a lot of topics before and during Monday's exhibition, which unofficially wrapped up the LPGA Tour's return to Naples after Na Yeon Choi won the CME Group Titleholders at the course Sunday.
Lewis and Lincicome traded barbs. After the long-driving Lincicome blasted a 330-yard drive on the par-5 and her and Stephenson arrived at their ball, Lincicome turned and waved back down the fairway to where Lewis and King stood.
"It was like 100 yards it seemed like between her and I," said Lincicome, who finished third Sunday. "Obviously, downwind if I can get it high, get it going right to left, the ball's going to go pretty far."
But on the long drive hole for the day, Lewis put one well out there, then razzed Lincicome before she got up on the tee.
"I was trying to get in her head a little bit," said Lewis, who ended up winning long drive. "Tell her it's got to be in the fairway, the wind's moving to the right, moving it left a little."
Lewis and King were the overall winners, clinching it with a long birdie putt on the 18th hole — the teams played Nos. 1, 9 and then 12 through 18 — knowing Lincicome and Stephenson had a short birdie putt that could've tied them. Lincicome made the putt to put them in second. Thompson and Bradley, and Lopez and Creamer fell back with bogeys on No. 15, the sixth hole in the competition.
Lewis and King won $50,000 for the Scoliosis Research Society and Golf Fore Africa — the two decided to give $40,000 to Golf Fore Africa, King's charity that Lewis also is on the board of, with $10,000 going to the Scoliosis charity (Lewis had scoliosis as a child).
"I see a little bit of myself in her, although she's a lot more talented," the modest King, who won six majors, said of Lewis.
Each remaining team received $10,000. The other charities were: The First Tee of St. Petersburg (Lincicome), the Handa Foundation (Stephenson and Bradley both played for it), the Paula Creamer Foundation (Creamer), AIM for the Handicapped (Lopez) and the Wounded Warriors (Thompson).
Thompson, 17, and Bradley, 61, had the biggest age disparity, but may have had the most fun.
"Today was a day I'll always remember," Bradley said. "walking the fairways with Paula and Lexi was a lot of fun, and of course being with my good friend Nancy, we had a blast."
"Probably the most fun I've ever had on a golf course," Thompson said.
In addition to the money going to charity, Lewis found another meaning to the day.
"Something we're doing here today, which is cool, is celebrating our past, which I don't think we've done a very good job of doing," Lewis said. "Bringing back the former players and really showing the fans, remembering who these great players were, remembering that Betsy's in the hall of fame ..."
The four older players also want people to know that they're still playing — out on the Legends Tour, which had a pair of stops in Florida earlier this month.
"It's a lot of fun to play on it," said Lopez, 55, who won 48 tour events, including three majors. "The players that are out there are very competitive. You still see the focus and trying to hit great shots. ... I think the Legends Tour has kind of given everybody a new something-to-do, to play competitively again."
For Creamer, playing with Lopez was another treat.
"She's mentored me through my career," the 26-year-old said. "It's really nice to be able to do something with the Legends. ... They give back to us so much as well, and it's nice to have an event where we can all be together."
Bradley, Lopez and Stephenson, 60, all had connections to Southwest Florida.
Bradley used to be a part-time Marco Island resident, and her mother still lives in Naples five months a year. Lopez lived at Windstar, and represented the property for a number of years after she moved. And Stephenson won her first LPGA Tour event, the Sarah Coventry Naples Classic in 1976.
"It brought back good memories," Stephenson said. "I kind of got a little bit lost, because I'm like 'Oh, my God, the place has changed. Yeah, I think so ... in 30 years."