Monday, June 6, 2011

ShopRite LPGA Classic Sunday: Brittany Lincicome Wins with Walkoff Birdie

Brittany Lincicome is known for her length off the tee, but this bomber played her last 38 holes in the ShopRite LPGA Classic bogey-free and made a clutch up-and-down from the junk off the par-5 18th green for birdie to secure her 4th career LPGA victory and 1st since the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship over 1st-round leader and precision player Ji-Yai Shin and 2nd-round leader and straight shooter Cristie Kerr. As you can see from my pre-tournament predictions, I never saw this one coming. Color me seriously impressed that Lincicome could combine distance and accuracy and touch so effectively this week. Were it not for a bad patch in high winds during the 1st round where she went bogey-bogey-par-par-bogey-double from the 11th through the 16th holes, she would have run away with this thing. Sure, Shin could say the same thing if she had just been better on the greens from 5 feet and in over the course of the week and Kerr was absolutely right to point to some really unlucky breaks in the final round, but the former did miss putts when it mattered and the latter did falter over the final 12 holes. For Lincicome to handle the pressure the way she did when she doesn't seem to relish the heat of competition like Shin and Kerr do and to both capitalize on her strengths and avoid big mistakes better than 2 recent world #1s shows how close she is to realizing her immense potential.

With a host of sites already covering Lincicome's win--in order of usefulness, Hound Dog LPGA, LPGA.com, Golf Babes, LinksLifeGolf, and ProGolfTalk--let me close with a few other observations.

  • It didn't seem like Ya Ni Tseng's or Karrie Webb's week, what with Tseng's shoulder injury and Webb's weak finishes the 1st 2 rounds that offset great starts each day, but both closed strong with 65s yesterday that vaulted them into the top 10. Tseng hit every fairway and every green, while Webb took only 24 putts!
  • How due is In-Kyung Kim for another win? After firing a 5-birdie 32 on the front, she couldn't buy one on the final 9, despite spinning out 2 in a row and giving herself lots of good looks. Even so, she's 2nd to Ya Ni Tseng in scoring average and birdie rate and leads the tour in top 10 rate, having gotten there 5 times in 6 starts this season. How well has she been playing in the last calendar year? Well, she's finished outside the top 25 only twice in her last 20 events, during which she's garnered 15 top 10s and 10 top 5s (3 of which came in the last 3 majors). It's amazing she's won only once in that stretch!
  • Anna Nordqvist and Catriona Matthew impressed me this week. A few fewer mistakes by either of them and we could easily have seen a European win this week. Coupled with Maria Hjorth's sizzling 65 to match Tseng and Webb for low round of the day and Melissa Reid's win on the LET, the European Solheim Cup team is looking pretty formidable.
  • There were more positive signs this week from my fave Ai Miyazato. With only 2 missed fairways all week, her driver seems to be back on track. She missed too many greens and made too many bogeys to put herself in contention, but she's starting to make birdies in bunches again. I'm very curious to see how she does on the JLPGA later this week!
  • Speaking of comebacks and better driving from an '06er, how about Brittany Lang's top 10 this week? She bounced back in the final round from an early double with 4 birdies in her last 12 holes. It's about time she secured her spot on the U.S. Solheim Cup team, don't you think?
  • What do you do when you miss the cut? If you're Morgan Pressel, you shoot a 63 at Bayonne! Expect to see a lot of fireworks later this week at the State Farm....
  • I really liked Helen Alfredsson in the booth on Golf Channel this week, and she got better each day. Would love to hear more from her down the road!
In a nutshell, the LPGA is heating up in a big way as summer approaches. Any number of players could reel off wins in bunches in the coming weeks. If you haven't been paying attention so far this year, now is the time to tune in!

[Update 1 (10:50 am): Here's Hound Dog's epilogue.]

4 comments:

Mike said...

I think Inky's just a victim of things she can't see on the green that keep the ball just barely outside the hole. So many of those putts really should have gone in! it probably won't be long before they start falling and we're talking about how she can't miss.

The Constructivist said...

I'm going to keep picking her to win (on shorter/tighter courses) until she does!

joonx said...

What a great story thank you very much for sharing with us
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vette_2004 said...

I followed alongside Ai Miyazato all round saturday and she was driving the ball exceptionally well. She shot a respectable 69 but it def could have been a better, she missed a few makeable putts. Really hope she continues to improve over the next few weeks