by Rick Woelfel
Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic
Paradise Island, Bahamas
Final Round Notes
January 29, 2017
It’s far, far too soon to know if what happened at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic was the start of a trend or merely an anomaly. But the result may get some American golf fans, who may not have given the LPGA much thought, to start paying attention.
For the record, Brittany Lincicome birded the first extra hole to defeat Lexi Thompson after the two finished regulation play at 26-under par 266.
It marked just the third time since the start of 2016 that an American finished an LPGA tournament in the winner’s circle. Lincicome and Thompson were the survivors of a four-way skirmish that featured fellow Americans Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller. Lewis wound up third at 25-under par 267 while Piller placed fourth at 268. Rookie Nelly Korda, another American, tied for fifth with Poranong Phatlum of Thailand at 271. This was Korda’s LPGA debut. (Read more here)
The last time an American contingent finished 1-5 on the leaderboard was at the 2011 Canadian
Ironically, Lincicome won that event in a playoff over Lewis and Michelle Wie. “The only thing I can think of is that it’s a Solheim Cup year, and everyone is fighting for points, myself included,” Lincicome said. “I think it’s great. “Obviously, I love seeing the Americans playing well, being an American, and it’s not like we don’t try to play well. We obviously all work very hard on our games, and it just shows how many wonderful players are out on the LPGA and how deep the field goes.”
Sunday’s win was the seventh LPGA victory for the 31-year old Lincicome and her first since she won the ANA Inspiration for the second time in 2015.
Lewis and Thompson shared the lead when the final round started at 23-under par. Piller was one shot back and joined Lewis and Thompson in the final group while Lincicome played just ahead of them.
All four players had at least a share of the lead at one point or another.
Tee times were moved up in anticipation of an approaching weather system but the final groups found themselves dealing with rain and string winds coming down the stretch. The winds were strong enough to move balls on the greens at least twice; Lincicome had the advantage of finishing first while her fellow competitors were still battling the elements.
“I was thinking that I was very lucky,” she said. “Obviously the last three or four holes for all of us was really unfortunate. It was gusting. The par three that we played (the 17th), I was just trying to hit it on the front of the green and I took three extra clubs. It was blowing almost 35 miles an hour into, and when it started pouring I was already done so I was feeling blessed that I was already done and didn’t have to compete with the elements.”
Thompson, who turns 22 on February 10, was trying for her eighth LPGA win. “The wind totally changed on 16,” she said. “It would have been dead in, and then it switched and it was straight down. I ended up going through the fairway and it was tough club choice, and then getting 17 straight into the wind, 180, playing about like 230. It was just tough, but that’s golf. Everybody has to play in it.”
Thompson appreciated seeing her fellow Americans on the leaderboard, even if her own name wasn’t on top. “That’s always what we want to see,” she said, “being an American and representing my country, and it is great to see so many Americans at the top of the leaderboard. I’ve played with Brittany a bunch and played with Stacy and Gerina today, and it was just a great pairing. We had great fun out there and it’s great representing USA.”
With just eight months to go until the 2017 Solheim Cup, the battle for a berth on Team USA will intensify in the 2017 LPGA season. Solheim Cup points, that determine eight of the 12 American golfers who make the team, will double for each of the five majors (ANA Inspiration, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, U.S. Women’s Open, RICOH Women’s British Open, and The Evian Championship) and increase by one-third during the year’s other LPGA tournaments.
The increase in awarded points means players can make big moves in a hurry by carding top-20 finishes during 2017.