RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Brittany Lincicome was thinking birdie and came up with an eagle.
That’s how she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year, her first major and just her third career win.
The ending was a blur, from sinking a 4-foot putt to seal the win, getting the trophy and then finding out just how cold the lake is that winners jump into.
Always, though, there will be the shot.
After hitting a 275-yard drive down the middle of the fairway on No. 18, Lincicome hit a hybrid from 210 yards that cleared the water and landed on the upper part of the green, with the ball curling down just above the hole.
“Everybody always comes up to me, and they’re like, ‘I saw your shot. Talk me through it,’ Lincicome said this week. “It was really funny, yeah, I was there. I remember doing it.
“It’s definitely a shot that I kind of reflect on just for confidence, just knowing that I can hit that shot under pressure will help me in the future,” Lincicome said.
She’ll defend her title beginning Thursday at Mission Hills against a field that includes South Korean Hee Kyung Seo, who ran away with the Kia Classic last weekend, and Michelle Wie, whose rules gaffe on Sunday at La Costa cost her $90,000.
In last year’s final round, Lincicome was never worse than three strokes behind. She stayed close as her good friend Kristy McPherson and Cristie Kerr traded the lead back and forth.
Trailing McPherson by one stroke, Lincicome broke through with her amazing sequence of shots on the par-5, 485-yard 18th.
“My No. 1 thought was just getting the ball on the fairway,” she recalled. “After I hit that tee shot, it was like, all right, I’ve got a chance, at least get it on the green, two putt and get the birdie and try to get in the playoff, hopefully Kristy doesn’t birdie on top of mine and beat me by one. But after I hit that hybrid, it was right in the middle of the green, right where we were aiming. I wasn’t anticipating it taking that slope that well, but I’m not complaining.”
Lincicome missed the cut at the Kia Classic. She tied for 26th in both Thailand and Singapore, the first two stops on the LPGA Tour this year.
Seo, meanwhile, ran away with the inaugural Kia Classic for her first LPGA Tour title. She beat Inbee Park by six strokes.
It was during Sunday’s round that Wie was penalized two strokes for grounding her club in a hazard after hitting out of the water near the 11th green. The penalty dropped her into a tie for fifth.
“I think it was very unfortunate, and I left that where it was last week, and now I’m here at Kraft Nabisco and I’m really excited to play this week,” Wie said. “So all I’m thinking about is how I’m going to try to play my best this week.”
Still, it wasn’t her first run-in with the rules book.
“It’s unfortunate,” she said. “It’s something that you never want to do, but it happens. People make mistakes, but you know what, that’s all in the past. You know, I really think that that’s what happened, and hopefully from now on it won’t happen. But you know, I’m just trying now to think about this week.”