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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Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

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Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.