Lincicome makes major splash

Brittany Lincicome (center) leads her father Tom (right) and caddie Tara Bateman into the lake after winning the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Brittany Lincicome was brilliant when it mattered most.

Lincicome sank a 6-foot eagle putt on No. 18 to upstage good friend Kristy McPherson and win the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Sunday, capturing her first victory in a major.

Never worse than three strokes behind in the final round, Lincicome stayed close as McPherson and Cristie Kerr traded the lead back and forth on a perfect day at Mission Hills.

Trailing by one, the 23-year-old Lincicome broke through with an amazing sequence of shots on the par-5 18th. After hitting a booming drive down the middle of the fairway, she launched her approach shot across the water and onto the upper part of the green, where the ball curled down just above the hole.

“Please be good,” Lincicome said as she watched the ball fly through the desert air, then smiled when it was.

She calmly sank the putt to finish with a 3-under 69, pumped her fist and hugged McPherson, who finished tied for second with Kerr one shot back.

It was the third career victory for Lincicome, whose previous best finish in a major was a tie for second at this tournament in 2007.

Playing in the all-American final threesome, she became the first U.S. winner in the last six women’s majors. Kerr was the last to do so in the 2007 U.S. Open.

After receiving her trophy, Lincicome joined hands with her caddie and father and jumped into the lake surrounding the 18th.

Lincicome, who took the first-round lead Thursday with a 66, finished with a 9-under 279. McPherson shot a 72 and Kerr a 71 on Sunday.

McPherson, leading by one shot heading to No. 18, was trying to hold on for her first LPGA victory when Lincicome broke through.

McPherson calls Lincicome “Bam-Bam” because of the length of her drives, and Lincicome lived up to it on the 18th, where her drive left her just 210 to the pin.

McPherson had a seesaw day.

She lost her overnight lead to Kerr on the second hole, pulled into a tie by making three birdies in four holes making the turn, dropped back when Kerr birdied the par-3 14th, then jumped back into the lead on the 15th when Kerr took a double bogey after losing her ball out of bounds, hitting it through some trees and apparently clearing a wall onto Gerald Ford Drive.

Lindsey Wright (70) was fourth at 6 under, while Suzann Pettersen (66) and Meaghan Francella (69) tied for fifth at 5 under.

Defending champion Lorena Ochoa shot a 69 for her best round of the tournament and finished in a tie for 12th at 1 under.

Lincicome opened the final round with seven consecutive pars before two straight birdies put her in contention.

Kerr started the round one shot behind McPherson, but had a three-shot lead after five holes despite some wayward driving.

Kerr jumped into the lead on the par-5 second hole, despite driving into the rough and failing to extricate herself with her second shot. She had a nice approach shot and sank an 18-foot birdie putt while McPherson had a bogey after her sand shot was short of the green.

Kerr saved par on No. 3 despite driving into the left rough, getting a break when her lie was in grass that had been trampled by the gallery.

Kerr birdied No. 4 with a tricky 10-foot downhill putt, then took a three-stroke lead when McPherson bogeyed the par-3 fifth hole by hitting her tee shot into the water.

McPherson’s ball splashed into the lake, popped out but then rolled back into the water. A rules official said it wasn’t conclusive whether the ball crossed the hazard line before rolling back into the water. McPherson had to go back to the tee box rather than the drop zone, and this time hit the green and helped herself by making a 25-foot putt.

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