Lincicome gets redemption with fiancé in attendance

By Randall MellApril 6, 2015, 4:09 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – You can take a ride on Frank Sinatra Drive, Gene Autry Trail and Bob Hope Drive before turning down Dinah Shore Drive to get to the main gate to Mission Hills Country Club.

To win the ANA Inspiration, you leave the 17th green and pretty much merge onto Brittany Lincicome Way.

That’s what they ought to call the 18th fairway here.

Lincicome, 29, played like she owned the hole Sunday winning the ANA Inspiration.

Six years after winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship here with an eagle at the final hole of regulation, Lincicome closed spectacularly with another eagle. She sent a roar across the Coachella Valley again Sunday, this time with the eagle getting her into a playoff with Stacy Lewis, a playoff Lincicome won with a par on the third extra hole.

Of course, Lincicome closed it out on the 18th hole. She played the hole four times in a row before coming away with the victory.

“I'm standing here, physically shaking like a leaf still,” Lincicome said after. “It’s over, and I'm still shaking.”

It is Lincicome’s sixth LPGA title, her first in nearly four years.

She prevailed on a wild day of ebb and flow, of unexpected twists and turns.

Lewis and Sei Young Kim traded a staggering five two-shot swings in the final pairing, four in a row on the back nine. They kept trading blows, taking turns with the lead.

“It was a crazy day,” Lewis said. “It was all over the place.”

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Morgan Pressel delivered a big shot at the end, nearly holing out for eagle from 99 yards in the fairway at the final hole. She would have been tied for the lead and been in that playoff had her ball found the cup, instead of checking up inches away. She tapped in for a birdie that left her one shot back.

Lincicome delivered the biggest shot of all.

Two shots behind Lewis at the 18th tee at the end of regulation, Lincicome bombed her drive down the middle. From there, she carved a 5-iron from 190 yards to a flagstick tucked back, right. She watched with chills as the ball fed off the slope there to within 10 feet of the flag, to the same hole location she played to when she made that winning eagle in ’09.

“It's just a perfect hole,” Lincicome said. “You land it on the front, it takes that little slope, and I don't think my ball knows anything else other than that, to do. It's done it twice now, so it's pretty incredible.”

Back in ’09, Lincicome hit a grip hybrid from 190 yards to that pin.

There was déjà vu for Lincicome in winning on Easter. The last time this championship’s finish fell on Easter Sunday was ’09 when Lincicome won.

It was sweet redemption for Lincicome, who had a chance to win the LPGA Championship late last summer. Lincicome was two shots up on Inbee Park in Rochester with two holes to play and got beat by Park in a playoff.

“I hadn't been in that position in so long,” Lincicome said. “I just wasn't playing that great. So I just took from that that it was nice to be in contention again. It was nice to have a chance to win a golf tournament again. Just didn't let it get to me.”

There was something special winning this championship with her fiancé watching.

Dewald Gouws teams with Lincicome as quite the power couple. He was the 2008 World Long Drive Championship runner-up. Lincicome is the LPGA’s longest hitter. She goes by the nickname “Bam Bam.”

After Lincicome lost to Park at the LPGA Championship, she left in Gouws consoling arms, back when they were dating, before they were engaged.

“I wanted to win for you babe,’” Gouws remembers her saying. “She said, `I’m sorry, I wanted to win with you there.’”

Lincicome didn’t just get to win with Gouws watching. She leaped into Poppie’s Pond with him, her father, Tom, and her caddie, Missy Pederson. “

“I couldn't have written it any better,” Lincicome said. “It's pretty incredible, A, that he was here, and B, that he got to jump in the pond with me. There are no words.”

Gouws said he was nervous Sunday watching Lincicome put herself right back in the fire, back in another playoff.

“I was shaking,” Gouws said.

Gouws, a strong, hulking fellow, was asked the last time he shook like that.

“When I asked her to marry me,” Gouws said.

That was last December, on a beach in Clearwater.

Gouws, who is from South Africa, didn’t know a whole lot about Lincicome when they first started dating. They met, fittingly, at the 2012 World Long Drive Championship in Mesquite, Nevada. A friend, Trevor Consavage, introduced them.

Gouws never saw that first eagle Lincicome made. He didn’t even know about it until after he started dating Lincicome and Consavage Googled the shot and showed him a recording.

“I said, `Wow, she’s kind of a big deal,’” Gouws said. 

Lincicome’s an even bigger deal now.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.