Back to defend title Lincicome recalls magical shot


2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Brittany Lincicome’s name leaped among the legends of the game at the end of her victory at last year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship.

It’s not so much that she won a major championship, but the way she won it.

Her final shot into the 72nd hole at the Kraft Nabisco Championship ranks among the greatest shots ever hit in a major championship.

Her hybrid 3-iron from 210 yards to 4 feet set up more than her winning eagle.

When you talk about the greatest shots in majors, Lincicome’s ranks right there with famous final-round shots hit by Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Larry Mize, Karrie Webb, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen.

It’s there with the Woods’ chip-in at the 16th hole when he won the Masters in 2005, with Watson’s chip-in at the 17th at Pebble Beach when he beat Jack Nicklaus by two shots to win the U.S. Open in 1982 and with Larry Mize’s chip-in when he beat Greg Norman at the second hole of their Masters’ playoff in 1987.

It’s there with Karrie Webb’s hole-out for eagle from 116 yards at the 72nd hole at the Kraft Nabisco before she went on to win in a playoff in 2006.

It’s there with Ben Hogan’s 1-iron into the 72nd hole at Merion when he forced a playoff that would win him the U.S. Open in 1950.

It’s even, at least, in the same conversation with Gene Sarazen’s hole out with a 4-wood for double eagle from 220 yards at the 15th hole on his way to winning the Masters in 1935.

Lincicome’s shot was that good.

Back to defend her title this week, Lincicome is reveling in remembrances of last year’s finish.

“Everyone’s coming up to me, and they’re like, `I saw your shot, can you talk me through it?’” Lincicome said. “It’s a great memory, just knowing that I can do that under pressure and overcome the fears or the nerves, knowing that I can hit a great shot like that under pressure.”

Lincicome, 24, a three-time LPGA winner, will be bidding to become just the second player to win this major in back-to-back years. Annika Sorenstam did it in 2001-02.

Down by a shot to Kristy McPherson at the 72nd tee on Mission Hills Country Club’s Dinah Shore Tournament Course a year ago, Lincicome set up her famed shot with a towering drive. She said she was so nervous over the 3-iron hybrid that her hands were shaking. The play is to an island green.

Lincicome’s shot came in high and soft before biting and funneling down a ridge to a right-center pin placement.

Cristie Kerr, who also trailed McPherson by a shot, birdied the final hole and still got beat.

“You would be hard pressed to find a better shot to win a major,” Kerr said. “As soon as it left the clubface, and I saw the trajectory and where it was headed, I knew it was stiff. It was just a question of how stiff.”

Watching Lincicome’s shot in mid-air, McPherson knew how small the landing area was to get that ball to feed down the ridge to the hole.

“I thought it might end up on the left side, or a little bit long,” McPherson said. “There’s a stretch of about 3 feet you have to land it to get it to roll down where it did.”

McPherson knew the shot was close not so much by what she saw as by what she heard.

“The crowd kept getting louder and louder,” said McPherson, who tied for second. “At one point, I thought he ball might have gone in the hole.”

Hall of Famer Beth Daniel called it a perfect shot.

“It was unbelievable,” said Daniel, who will work this week’s final round as an analyst for CBS. “Literally, if her shot lands one foot to the left, the ball does not filter down to the hole the way it did. One foot to the right, and that ball could have run into the water. The difficulty is you have to carry the water, and then the green, especially the left side, runs away from the player. The ball can kick to the back of the green really hard. It had to be pretty much the perfect shot.”

Lincicome’s father, Tom, was in the crowd along the 18th green before Brittany set up to hit that hybrid.

“I was trying to get inside the ropes, but they wouldn’t let me in,” Tom said. “I was pleading, `Hey, I’m Brittany’s father, can I get in there?’ I was told no.”

Some angelic official intervened and lifted the rope for Tom’s entry.

“I had a good feeling all week,” Brittany’s father said. “Brittany’s caddie and I were talking Thursday about how we were going to jump into Poppy’s Pond with Brittany. She kept telling us to not to talk about it.”

In the end, thanks to a shot that will go down in history, Lincicome’s father got to swim with his daughter in the celebratory aftermath.