Lincicome and McPhersons major friendship

By Randall MellApril 15, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Brittany Lincicome tapped out the text message a couple days ago.
 
You still mad at me?
 
Kristy McPherson has been getting these kinds of messages from Lincicome for two weeks now, and she couldnt resist a playful retort.
 
My brothers are mad at you, McPherson answered back.
 
This is the kind of fun McPherson has been having since Lincicome beat her at the Kraft Nabisco Championship with one of the greatest shots ever hit at the end of a major championship.
2009 Kraft Nabisco
Lincicome chips onto the green on the fifth hole during the second round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills Country Club. (Getty Images)

The 22-degree hybrid Lincicome used to carve a shot from 210 yards to 4 feet to set up her winning eagle should have broken McPhersons heart, and Cristie Kerrs for that matter. Lincicome beat them both by a shot at Mission Hills Dinah Shore Tournament Course, but there was a different dynamic in play for McPherson.
 
Lincicome, 23, and McPherson, 27, are close friends.
 
Nearly every week, when theyre playing the same tour event, youll find Lincicome and McPherson together, battling it out in a card game, typically Spades. Its usually Lincicome and Meredith Duncan against McPherson and Angela Stanford.
 
I wish Meredith and I could win a little more at cards, Lincicome said.
 
Lincicomes fantastic finish was the kind of blow that could test the true nature of their friendship, but it doesnt appear to have altered their bond at all. It has only allowed McPherson to have some fun with the guilt Lincicome expresses whenever they pick up their cell phones to speak or text, which theyve done practically every day since the Kraft Nabisco.
 
Brittanys like, `Dude, I didnt mean to hit it that close, McPherson said. Its something Ill always give her a hard time about.
 
But if youre going to get beat, thats the way to get beat, by a best friend with a shot like that. Its not like I chunked a ball in the water or beat myself.
 
Lincicome is still glowing over her first major championship. Shes being recognized more now, and that will only continue with her Major League Baseball pitching debut approaching. OK, its just a single pitch that doesnt count, but Lincicome is excited about the Tampa Rays invitation to throw out the first ball when the Rays play the Boston Red Sox on April 30 at Tropicana Field. Lincicome grew up in Pinellas Park, Fla., about 15 minutes from the ballpark.
 
Shortly after returning home after the Kraft Nabisco, Lincicome showed up at Bardmoor Golf & Tennis Club in Largo, Fla., to meet with local media. Club members there perused through her bag looking for the other star in Lincicomes victory, the Adams Idea Pro Hybrid that set up Lincicomes winning eagle. She isnt about to take the club out of play and mount it on some wall just yet.
 
Its staying in my bag, said Lincicome, a three-time LPGA winner. Its one of my favorite clubs. I had a few people at the course who wanted to know if they could look at it, or touch it, to see if the good vibes would rub off.
 
Lincicome is in Daytona Beach this week, where her boyfriend is throwing a belated victory party. The celebration had to wait because Lincicome spent only a few days at home after her victory before flying back out west for the Vision 54 School in Phoenix. Thats Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriotts school, which is built on their philosophy and book, 'Every Shot Must Have a Purpose.'
 
Its the first time a major championship winner has attended our school, Nilsson said. It was really cool.
 
Lincicomes attendance a week after winning her first major shows just how determined she is to avoid the letdown so many first-time major champions experience. After a depressing 2008 season, when Lincicome finished a career-low 92nd on the money list with just one top-10 finish, shes determined to keep building on her momentum. A swing change initiated in the off season is part of that. So is the new approach Vision 54 brings to her game.
 
Before the Kraft Nabisco started, Lincicome got a short preview session from Nilsson and Marriott. She implemented their suggestion that she visit a happy place after bad shots, by singing or thinking about fishing, a favorite hobby.
 
Going to a happy place is an idea that really helped Brittany, said Tom Lincicome, Brittanys father. Before, when Brittany hit a bad shot, she would take a couple holes before she came out of it. At Kraft, after a bad shot, you couldnt tell.
 
Vision 54 helped Lincicome immensely.
 
So did playing the final round with McPherson, who grew up in Conway, S.C. Lincicome met her in a tour fellowship meeting two seasons ago.
 
I dont think Kristy and I ever played together in an LPGA tournament before, Lincicome said. It was ironic it would come in the final round of a major, but it was awesome to have her out there with me.
 
Walking to the 10th tee for the back-nine finish, Lincicome grabbed McPhersons hand and wouldnt let go. Nilsson couldnt have prescribed a more calming tactic to settle Lincicome for what was to come. McPherson was playing in her first Kraft Nabisco and just her fifth major. She has never won an LPGA event, but she showed almost no nerves under final-round pressure.
 
Brittany was squeezing my fingers and telling me that her heart was going to beat out of her chest, McPherson said. We still laugh about that. I dont know why I was so calm. Maybe it was because I was with her.
 
Nilsson saw the benefit the pairing was having as she watched on TV.
 
The pairing had a calming effect on Brittany, you could see that, Nilsson said. You could see what good friends they are when Kristy almost made the hole-in-one on the 17th. Brittany looked happier about it than Kristy was.
 
Though McPherson took a one-shot lead to the 72nd hole, she didnt walk away crushed. Shes taking her strong play as a positive while being surprised at how much attention shes getting for a second-place finish.
 
Walking Augusta National as a spectator at the Masters last week, McPherson was moved by how many patrons recognized her.
 
Quite a few people said they were pulling for me, McPherson said.
 
Pat Green, the country music singer, called McPherson to encourage her. They met once in a golf outing.
 
He said he spent his birthday watching the Kraft Nabiscos final round and couldnt turn off his TV, McPherson said.
 
McPherson joined Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam as the only LPGA players at the Hootie & the Blowfish Monday after the Masters Pro-Am in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The bands lead singer, Darius Rucker, made a point of congratulating McPherson. So did Sorenstam, who sought out McPherson at the concert and hugged her.
 
She was really supportive and said she looked forward to watching me the rest of the year, McPherson said. That was great.
 
The biggest boost McPherson got from the Kraft Nabisco was her jump to No. 8 in the U.S. Solheim Cup standings. The top 10 in points automatically qualify for the Aug. 21-23 event at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. Lincicome is 12th in points. The duo would relish being teammates in the biennial competition against Europe.
 
Its every Americans dream to play for your country, McPherson said.
 
That might be more a nightmare for Europe given the strength that McPherson and Lincicome can give each other.
 

Related Links:
  • Final Leaderboard - Kraft Nabisco Championship
  • Full Coverage - Kraft Nabisco Championship
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