Back to defend title Lincicome recalls magical shot

By Randall MellApril 1, 2010, 5:00 am
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.

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Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''

Full-field scores from the Sanford International

Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.

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Glover (64) leads Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:12 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shot his second consecutive 7-under 64 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the Tour Championship.

The 38-year-old Glover, who won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, can still regain his PGA Tour card through a medical extension if he fails to earn enough money in the four-tournament Tour Finals. But a high finish this weekend at Atlantic Beach Country Club would take care of everything.

''I've got a lot to fall back on regardless of this week, but any time I tee it up, I want to play well,'' Glover said. ''Tomorrow won't be any different. Sunday won't be any different.''

Glover had arthroscopic knee surgery in June and will have eight starts to earn 53 FedEx Cup points and keep his card. He earned $17,212 in the first three Tour Finals events. The top 25 money winners in the series earn PGA Tour cards, and the final card went for $40,625 last year.

Glover was at 14-under 128. Denny McCarthy, who has already earned enough money to secure a return to the PGA Tour, was one shot back. McCarthy, a former Virginia player, has a shot at winning the Finals money list, which would guarantee him fully exempt status and entry into The Players Championship.

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

''There's no secret about it. I'll come out and tell you I'm here to win this tournament and get that No. 1 spot,'' McCarthy said. ''I've been hungry for a while. I have a pretty hungry attitude and I'm going to stay hungry.''

Tour veteran Cameron Tringale, who has earned just $2,660 after missing two of the first three cuts, was 12 under after a 67. Last year, Tringale entered the Tour Championship at 63rd on the Finals money list and finished tied for fifth to get back onto the PGA Tour. He struggled again this season, though, missing 19 cuts in 26 starts.

''Yeah, I was hoping last year was my last time here, but I do have a comfort at this golf course and I'm excited to keep pressing,'' Tringale said.

The four-tournament series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top 25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals.

Sepp Straka and Ben Silverman were three shots back. Each would likely need a top-5 finish to earn his card.

Peter Malnati, who regained his card with a second-place finish in the opening finals event, followed his opening-round 74 with a 9-under 62, shooting an 8-under 27 on his second nine.

Four-time PGA Tour winner Aaron Baddeley was among those who missed the cut. He was 22nd on the finals money list going in and likely will fall short of earning his card.

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Thomas (69) only three back with 'C' or 'D' game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTA – Justin Thomas was tied for fourth place following his second-round 69 on Friday at the Tour Championship, which considering the state of his game on Day 2 was an accomplishment.

“I wish I had my 'B' game today. I would say I had my 'C' or 'D' game today,” he laughed.

Thomas’ struggles were primarily with his driver and he hit just 6 of 14 fairways at East Lake, but he was able to scramble late in his round with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to remain three off the lead.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

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“I drove it so poorly today, this is probably in my top 5 rounds of the year I'm most proud of just because I easily could have shot 4- or 5-over par today and not had a chance to win the tournament,” he said. “I hung in there and birdied two of the last four, and I have a chance.”

Thomas was slowed the last two weeks by a right wrist injury that limited his preparation for the finale and said the issue with his driver is timing and the byproduct of a lack of practice.

Thomas made up for his erratic driving with his short game, getting up and down four out of seven times including on the fourth hole when he missed the fairway well left, punched out short of the green and chipped in from 81 feet.

“[Rory McIlroy] just kind of said it looked like a ‘3’ the whole day and I kind of laughed because I played with him at The Players and I chipped in three times that first round with him, so I guess he's good luck for me,” Thomas said.

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McIlroy two behind Woods, Rose after 68

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:46 pm

ATLANTA – Maybe it should be no huge surprise that Rory McIlroy finds himself back in contention at the Tour Championship. It is, after all, a Ryder Cup year.

In 2016, McIlroy won the finale before heading to Hazeltine and posting a 3-2-0 record. In ’14, he finished runner-up to Billy Horschel and went 2-1-2 at the Ryder Cup; and in ’12 he finished tied for 10th place at East Lake and went 3-2-0 at Medinah.

“I was on such a high a couple of years ago going into Hazeltine after winning the whole thing, and I felt great about my game that week and played well. I won three matches,” McIlroy said. “I guess it doesn't matter whether it's a match play event or whatever. If you're playing well and you've played well the week before, I think most people can carry it into the next week, whatever that is.”

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy’s performance this week certainly qualifies as “playing well.” He charged out on Friday with birdies at two of his first three holes and bounced back from a pair of late bogeys to shoot a 68 and was in third place and two strokes off the lead held by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

“I've made 12 birdies in 36 holes, which is really good around here, and that's with not birdieing either of the par 5s today,” he said. “So yeah, just tidy up the mistakes a little bit.”