Brittany Lincicome makes a statement
When long-hitting American Brittany Lincicome made the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship her first major and third career LPGA title with an eagle on the 72nd hole, there was great reason to anticipate a new, rising star in women's golf.
Except it wasn't that easy.
"You don't know if you're ever going to win again," Lincicome said.
Lincicome can relax -- at least a little. At the ShopRite Classic at Seaview Golf Club in Galloway, N.J., on Sunday she finally took the necessary next step toward establishing herself among the LPGA's elite.
Playing her final 38 holes of the 54-hole event without a bogey, Lincicome, 25, shot a final-round 5-under 66 to earn a one-shot victory over runners-up Jiyai Shin, world No. 3, and Cristie Kerr, No. 4. With the win, Lincicome moved up nine spots in the world rankings, to No. 15.
She did it exactly as one might have expected.
The Florida country girl nicknamed "Bam Bam" is one of the longest hitters on the LPGA tour. She played the nine par-5s for the week at 9 under -- recording one eagle and seven birdies, including Sunday's finishing hole.
But she didn't win without a little drama at the end.
After pushing her 3-wood second shot left of the green, Lincicome found her ball in tall fescue, an area where chip shots had been a problem for the field all week.
Lincicome, however, managed, hitting a lob wedge to five feet and sinking the birdie putt for the one-shot win.
"I could go out and hit a whole bucket of balls and not get it within five feet like I did," she said of the chip.
And the putt?
"My hands were shaking so bad," she admitted.
"You don't know if you're ever going to win again or if you'll ever have your time. So it feels fantastic. It's a wonderful tournament. The people do a fantastic job here. The food was amazing this week. That's probably why I played well. Just fat and sassy every day, but it feels great. My game, I was super happy with the way that I played and just hopefully bigger and better things are to come."
-- Brittany Lincicome
Kerr, the top-ranked American in the women's world rankings at No. 4, continues to search for her first win of the season, after finishing second for the second consecutive tournament week, tying Sunday with Shin, one shot back.
In her last outing, Kerr lost to Suzann Pettersen in the finals of the Sybase Match Play Championship. After Sunday's final-round 69 and 10-under finish, she has five top-10 finishes in eight tournaments this season.
She will go into this week's LPGA State Farm Classic as defending champ.
"I have nothing to hang my head about," Kerr said. "You can always say what if, but I'm looking forward to next week.
"It was obviously [Lincicome's] week. But it doesn't diminish my performance. I played great this week."
Lincicome fashioned the week's best round Saturday, putting herself in position for Sunday's success with a second-day, bogey-free 7-under 64. The score was two shots off the tournament record 62 posted by Laura Davies and Jimin Kang in 2005.
Michelle Wie, pro golfer and college student, is on schedule to graduate from Stanford in March, but after turning in a paper this week, will be finished with school until the fall.
"It's been tough. It's been very challenging to get my work done and to stay on task. But I'm proud of myself," Wie said. "If I do finish next March, I'll be done for four and a half years and I won't jinx myself."
The obvious question is how full-time play will affect her golf. After arriving on the women's golf scene as a teenage prodigy, Wie's accomplishments remain limited. Yet, for all the mounting years in the spotlight, she is only 21.
"I play 20 tournaments a year, which is basically almost a full schedule, so I haven't been laying off much on the golf, per se, but it will be nice to come back from playing and just sit on the couch and do nothing without having to pull out my laptop," Wie said.
By the numbers
• 6: Players who finished in the top 10 who posted final-round scores of 67 or better.
• 13: Rounds under par by the 150 golfers who opened play Friday with steady winds of 20 mph.
• 18: Rounds in the 80s on Friday.
• 53: Second-round scores under par on a calmer Saturday before the 36-hole cut.
• 6: Place Lincicome moved to on the LPGA season money list after Sunday's $225,000 payout gives her $398,024 for the season. Yani Tseng leads with $650,725.
• 39: Fairways, out of 42, second-place Jiyai Shin hit during the week, the tournament best.