REUNION, Fla. (AP) — Brittany Lincicome had a small bag that held a new necklace, one of the gifts for winning the Ginn Open.
“It’s got champagne all over it,” Lincicome said. “Probably going to tarnish.”
Oh, those perils of victory.
Lincicome, who started four shots behind Lorena Ochoa and Laura Davies, survived a blustery Sunday and a six-hour round to shoot an even-par 72, enough to give the 21-year-old her second career LPGA Tour win. She finished at 10 under, one shot better than Ochoa (77) – who was 6 over on her final six holes, a stunning collapse.
“Third place was going to be a great score,” said Lincicome, the Women’s World Match Play winner last year. “I tried to stay patient and it paid off.”
Paid off nicely, too. She earned $390,000, plus a new car, the necklace and a spa trip – something Ochoa and Davies probably felt like they needed after their Sunday struggles.
Ochoa missed an opportunity to pass Annika Sorenstam for the top spot in the world rankings. Only a win would have pushed Ochoa to No. 1, but the Mexican star missed a 10-foot bogey try on the final hole that would have forced a playoff.
“It’s hard to describe,” Ochoa said. “Not meant to be. I tried really hard.”
Davies (79) had the outright lead with two holes to play, but three-putted her way to double bogey at the 17th and then bounced around bunkers for a disastrous triple bogey at the last. She finished alone in third at 7 under, one shot better than Juli Inkster (72) and Nicole Castrale (74).
Conditions were simply brutal. Morning storms delayed play for 2+ hours, and once the sky cleared, the wind followed. A 41 mph gust was measured in the area at mid-afternoon, and the wind steadily blew in the 20-25 mph range, causing an already tough course to nearly become unbearable.
“The sand would come out of the bunkers and just hit us,” Ochoa said, tapping her face. “We were talking about how hard the wind needs to blow before they stop play.”
Only one player – Meena Lee, who shot 71 – broke par in the final round.
Players backed off most every putt, often two or three times. Ochoa was rattled at the 16th when she stepped away from her par putt twice, the second time because her cap was about to blow off her head. And play was dreadfully slow; play resumed at 12:15 p.m., and it was a few minutes past 6 p.m. when Ochoa missed her putt on the 18th, sealing Lincicome’s victory.
“Tough conditions prove who’s the best player,” Ochoa said. “And today it was Brittany, for sure.”
The day’s average score was 76.5, 4+ shots higher than it was Saturday. Natalie Gulbis, who started the day tied for third and four shots off the lead, shot an 80 and finished 2 under, and 10 other players shot in the 80s.
The back nine was simply wild, with all three players in the final group getting some time atop the leaderboard.
Ochoa made the turn at 15 under, one shot ahead of Davies and four up on Lincicome. But Ochoa made a double-bogey at 13 and bogeys at the 15th and 16th, giving back four shots in a four-hole span, a collapse that gave Davies a one-stroke lead with two holes to play.
But Davies wasted the opportunity.
Davies’ third shot at the par-5 17th went over the green. She chipped to about 6 feet, barely inside of where Lincicome’s third shot from a fairway bunker 95 yards away landed.
While Ochoa made par, after getting her second roughly 30 yards from the flag, Lincicome’s par try dropped perfectly in the center of the cup. Davies studied Lincicome’s putt, knowing hers was on exactly the same line.
But she missed, and exacerbated her woes by having the bogey try from 3 feet lip out – making her settle for a double-bogey 7 and giving the lead back to Ochoa and Lincicome at 11 under.
“A three-putt on these greens, as windy as it is, it’s possible to do it,” Davies said. “But what a bad time to do it.”
At the 18th, things got even worse for Davies. Her tee shot landed in a bunker, and her second shot clipped the lip of that trap and landed in another one a short distance ahead. She eventually made triple and saw her hopes of ending a nearly six-year drought between wins on the LPGA Tour come to a sudden end.
Just as suddenly, Lincicome – who tied for second at the Kraft Nabisco, the season’s first major – is seeing her star rising. Her photo wasn’t among the couple dozen promotional shots lining the road to the course this week, something that surely won’t be the case next year.
“Hopefully after this week,” Lincicome said, “I’ll see my name out there.”
Divots: Gulbis’ 80 was costly. For finishing in third place, the spot where Gulbis started the day, Davies earned $169,557. Gulbis wound up taking home $44,916 for a share of 11th. … Defending champion Mi Hyun Kim shot 78 and tied for 20th at even par. … Ochoa also finished second at the Ginn last year.