Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome loses LPGA in playoff

Times wires

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — It came down to fortitude.

Leading on the final regulation hole of the LPGA Championship, Seminole's Brittany Lincicome had nerves get the better of her, and that carried over into a playoff.

Meanwhile, calm under the intense pressure of not only a major but a playoff at a major, Inbee Park added another title to her impressive LPGA Tour resume.

Park successfully defended her title in the LPGA Championship on Sunday, beating Lincicome with a par on the first hole of a playoff. Lincicome was left in tears.

"I didn't feel that nervous at all (Sunday)," said Park, also a playoff winner in the tournament last year. "But once I got to the tee on the playoff hole, I just felt the nerves right away. It was like a replay of last year, and experience definitely helped me out. I think I was able to stay calm."

Lincicome, 29, was poised to win her second major — and her first tournament since August 2011 — but her nerves cost her after she led all day.

"Not being in this position for a while, I think it all caught up with me," Lincicome said. "Being second at a major is always a good thing. I feel like I played really, really well this week. If I keep playing the way I did, my time's coming soon. It was nice to be in contention again."

Lincicome, who led after the second and third rounds, had a one-shot lead over Park on the final hole of regulation. She hit her second shot on the par-4 18th to the left fringe and was in a good spot, but a long delay for a ruling on a shot by playing partner Suzann Pettersen heightened the tension, and it showed.

Lincicome left her first putt 8 feet short and failed to make par, forcing the playoff.

"I was really nervous coming down the stretch. I was shaking like a leaf," Lincicome said. "It's hard to do anything when you're shaking."

Lincicome shot 1-under 71 and Park 70 to tie at 11-under 276.

On the playoff hole, Monroe Golf Club's 18th, Park hit her second shot into the rough behind the hole. Lincicome hit her approach to the left fringe, nearly identical to her position on the final hole of regulation.

Lincicome chipped 6 feet past the hole and failed to convert for bogey. Park, the winner last year on the third extra hole with Catriona Matthew, chipped to 3 feet and calmly sank her par putt for her fifth major title and fourth in the past two seasons.

"Inbee is so darn good. It was so close," Lincicome said. "I need to learn how to control the nerves a little bit more. I was really, really nervous coming down the stretch, especially the 18th hole and then the playoff."

The victory came on a bittersweet day. The tour bade farewell to the Rochester area after 38 years. Next year it will team with the PGA of America to run what will be called the Women's PGA Championship. The event will be played at Westchester Country Club near New York City.

Park, Nancy Lopez and Patty Sheehan are only players to win the LPGA Championship twice in a row in Rochester. "Just very happy to be part of history," said Park, 26.

Americans had won the first three majors of the season for the first time since 1999. Lexi Thompson won the Kraft Nabisco, Michelle Wie the U.S. Women's Open and Mo Martin the Women's British Open.

Park is projected to jump from third to second in the world rankings, passing Lydia Ko, 17. Ko, trying to become the LPGA's youngest major winner, shot 70 to finish third at 8 under.

Pettersen, a two-time major winner, started the day a shot behind Lincicome. But her day went bad at the start — she double bogeyed the par-4 first — and she shot 4-over 76. She finished 5 under in a group of four that included world No. 1 Stacy Lewis (68).