PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Inbee Park and Suzann Pettersen have no shortage of fuel for their run at chasing down Brittany Lincicome Sunday at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
Park and Pettersen both left the Ricoh Women’s British Open last month disappointed they couldn’t close out chances to win.
Lincicome has her own full tank of motivation as she seeks to claim her first victory in three years and extend the Americans’ bid to sweep all the women’s majors this year.
With a 1-under-par 71 Saturday, Lincicome battled to hold off her hard-pressing challengers. At 10-under 206, she is one shot ahead of both Park (69) and Pettersen (67).
“It means the world to me,” Lincicome said of this chance.
This looks like it will come down to the trio of major champions topping the leaderboard. Lincicome, 28, won her first and only major at the Kraft Nabisco in 2009. Park, 26, has won four majors, including a historic run winning the first three last year. Pettersen, 33, has a pair of majors, including the Evian Championship at the end of last year, when she put on a ball-striking clinic.
Park and Pettersen left the Ricoh Women’s British Open hungry for another chance.
Park took a one-shot lead into the final round at Royal Birdale and built it into a two-shot lead making the turn, but in windy, tough conditions, she could not hold on as Mo Martin posted early with a spectacular finish to prevail.
Park and Pettersen both found themselves needing to hole out from the same greenside bunker at the last hole at Royal Birkdale to tie Martin and force a playoff, but they left watching Martin hoist the claret jug.
“I kind of still think about it, especially when I see Mo,” Park said. “Yeah, it’s tough to forget.”
Park ended up fourth behind Martin at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
“I think it'll be good to actually recover from my mistakes at the British Open and play well in the final round,” Park said. “I think that's going to be great key going into the last half of the season.”
Pettersen’s road through the majors hasn’t been easy since she won at Evian last year. Stricken with a back injury in late March, she was laid up and unable to play this year’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco. She was stricken again before the year’s second major, the U.S. Women’s Open, but she came back to play it, missing the cut.
“Ever since the U.S. Women’s Open, my back and my body have been great,” Pettersen said. “Arkansas [the week after the U.S. Women’s Open] was probably the first tournament back where I felt like that was the real me, back in contention, back where my game should be, and ever since it's been good. It's been solid.”
Pettersen started the year looking like she was poised to reach the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in her career, but an aggravated disc in her back laid her up for nearly a month. A workout warrior, she has cut down her regimen and says she’s actually gaining distance and feeling better than she ever has about her game.
“My good right now has never been this good,” Pettersen said.
Pettersen has finished T-4 or better in five of her last seven major championships starts. She won five times around the world last year, but she's seeking her first title since winning the LPGA’s Sunrise Taiwan Championship last October.
Lincicome is trying to make it four straight major championship titles for the Americans this year. Lexi Thompson opened the year winning the Kraft Nabisco, Michelle Wie followed winning the U.S. Women's Open and Martin won the Ricoh Women's British. Lincicome has proven she can close out as a five-time LPGA winner, but she acknowledged battling nerves Saturday after going three seasons without a victory. She was pleased she battled to hold on to her lead.
“Nervous was probably an understatement,” Lincicome said of waiting for her late afternoon tee time. “I was fine all morning. I got my 10 hours of sleep. I watched `Puss In Boots’ on TV. I watched kids' movies, was doing fine, and then when it came time to eat lunch, it just wasn't happening. And then on the course, I took some stuff to calm my belly. I did have a banana, a few bananas actually.
“I think because I haven't been in this position in a while, it just kind of all caught up with me. Just tried to take multiple deep breaths out there. I don't think I calmed down until, really, the back nine, probably.
“Hopefully, going into tomorrow, it's kind of out of my system. I kind of know what it feels like to be in this position, to kind of dominate again.”