Jitters and excitement. That is how the outcome of the ANA Inspiration, golf’s first Major of the year can be described. American player Brittany Lincicome thought she was completely out of the tournament but after an eagle on the 72nd hole she tied the lead at 9-under par and forced a playoff against Stacy Lewis. It was Lincicome who emerged victorious after the three-hole tiebreaker to take her sixth Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) title home.
World’s No. 2 Stacy still had a chance to win the tournament in regulation but missed her birdie putt from 13 feet, which meant Lewis and Lincicome would have to walk back to the 18th hole. Overnight leader and rookie Sei Young Kim struggled during her final round and could not managed to keep the lead after a terrible back nine.
When it comes to nerves Lincicome is not afraid to admit having them, but it seems she’s worked on her game anxiety after the playoff lost to Inbee Park in 2014 at the LPGA Championship. This time it was different.
She played with confidence each of her shots and totally owned the 18th. That same hole that in 2009 was the key that led to her first Major title.
1st hole: Both players’ driver found the rough and were forced to layup and find the green in three shots. Once on the green Lincicome’s birdie putt came up short and tapped in for par. It was once again in Stacy’s hands to win the event but she missed her birdie putt too.
2nd hole: Stacy and Brittany found the 18th fairway, Lincicome could have reached the green with her second shot but she decided not to risk it. Both Americans once again made it a 3-shot hole and left the green with pars after their birdie putts missed by inches.
3rd hole: Sunset at Rancho Mirage was getting close and there was still no winner. Stacy and Brittany went off to the 18th tee for the third playoff hole. It seemed like fortune was not on Lewis side after her second shot stopped in a sand-filled divot, which made her approach shot come up short. Lincicome made a solid shot and left the ball for a 15 feet birdie to finish the hole with an easy 2-putt par. Lewis’s bogey made her walk off with a heartbreaking defeat.
Battling against Stacy was not easy for “Bam Bam” since the two are good friends, besides being partners in the Solheim Cup. “To be against Stacy who, A, is a good friend, and, B, is a tremendous competitor. She’s always right there coming down the stretch on Sunday. So to be in a playoff against her, I knew I had my work cut out for me,” said Lincicome after winning.
Lincicome’s nerves were there but this time she knew better and managed to win them over. With her win the 29 year old player put an end to her almost four years drought.
The leap into Poppie’s Pond
Surely this jump will be one of the most remembered when they refer to the ANA Inspiration. Not for the style in which “Bam Bam” and her companions jumped, but bye the way in which Lincicome managed to tie the lead and overcome Stacy Lewis in the playoff.
Brittany was joined by her caddie Missy Pederson, her father and her fiancé Dewald Gouws while taking the leap.
Stats to know
- Lincicome joined Juli Inkster, Dottie Pepper and Karrie Webb as two time champions of the event.
- Brittany is now number 5 on the Race to the CME Globe ranking.
- She jumped 12 spots on the Rolex Rankings and is now 6th.
- Her worst finishes at the ANA Inspiration are CUT (2008, 2012, 2013) and T59 (2014)