MIAMI: American Brittany Lincicome birdied four of Monday’s last five holes to win her second consecutive LPGA Bahamas Classic, finishing in near-darkness to capture the shortened season opener by two strokes.
The 32-year-old Floridian fired a seven-under par 66 in the final round to complete 54 holes at 12-under par 207 to defeat Taiwan’s Hsu Wei-Ling, who shot 68 to close on 209.
With portable lights used to illuminate pre-dawn practice areas turned upon the 18th green, Lincicome sank an eight-foot birdie putt to complete the low round of the tournament and take the trophy again.
“I’m on cloud nine,” she said. “And I’ve never defended before either. It’s unbelievable.”
The event was shortened to 54 holes after high winds wiped out most play Friday and forced Lincicome to complete a second-round 67 on Sunday morning.
With five players deadlocked atop the leaderboard at nine-under, Lincicome seized command on the back nine with a 10-foot birdie putt at 14, a six-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th, another 10-foot birdie at the par-3 17th and her closing clincher.
“My putter really saved me all day,” said Lincicome. “I made a lot of great birdies and par saves and that saved me.
Lincicome, who beat Lexi Thompson in a playoff to take last year’s crown, claimed her eighth career LPGA title. That includes two major titles, both at Rancho Mirage, in 2009 and 2015.
Hsu, who has made 79 LPGA starts without a triumph, was in the hunt late thanks to a run of three consecutive birdies ending at the eighth hole and a birdie at the par-5 11th to reach nine-under.
Hsu birdied the 15th and 18th but a bogey at 17 was too much to overcome.
World number one Feng Shanshan of China and South Korea’s Amy Yang shared third on 210, one stroke ahead of American Danielle Kang while England’s Bronte Law and Americans Thompson and Nelly Korda shared sixth on 212.
Feng took a bogey at 16, the course’s toughest hole of the week, but sank a long birdie putt at 17 and had the last chance to threaten Lincicome. Her eagle bid from the rough across the wide green was short.
Yang was also undone by a bogey at 16. She also closed with a birdie for a final-round 70.
Feng led Yang by a stroke after completion of the second round Sunday morning. AFP