DANVILLE, Calif. – Brittany Lincicome shot an 11-under 61 on Thursday, recording the tour’s best round of the season on the first day of the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge.
Lincicome had 11 birdies at the 6,185-yard Blackhawk Country Club, posting the second-lowest score in relation to par in tour history. The 61 also was a career best for Lincicome, who entered the week 62nd on the money list.
Wendy Ward was four shots back after a bogey-free 65. Moira Dunn had a 66 and Jin Young Pak, Michele Redman, Amy Hung and Katherine Hull were at 5 under following the first round.
Lincicome used her power off the tees and a soft touch around the greens to avoid trouble all afternoon, finishing with just 24 putts. Her lone mistake came on the par-5 No. 5, when she pushed her tee shot right into the rough and had to scramble to save par.
Lincicome set the course record and came within two shots of matching Annika Sorenstam’s LPGA Tour-record 13-under 59 at the Standard Register PING in 2001.
“The only time I looked at the scorecard was when we made the turn,” said Lincicome, who started her round on the back nine. “I was making everything. It was pretty crazy, even more myself. I was making 30-footers, 5-footers. Just one of those days where everything was going my way and I couldn’t do anything wrong.”
It’s been an up-and-down season for Lincicome, a three-time winner on tour.
In her first four tournaments of the year, Lincicome placed outside the top 20 three times and missed the cut in the other. After finishing second at the Bell Micro Classic two months later, she tied for 14th at the LPGA Championship and tied for 25th at the U.S. Open.
She seems to be rounding into form once again.
After a runner-up finish at last week’s Navistar Classic in Alabama by one shot to Katherine Hull, Lincicome began Thursday with five birdies over her first nine holes.
Then the 25-year-old, who shot a stellar 65 in the final round of the Navistar, really warmed up. After her par on No. 5, Lincicome birdied her final four holes, including on the par-5, 505-yard No. 9. Her approach shot sailed past the green and onto a backside hill of rough but she chipped to within 12 feet and made her birdie putt to cap her big day.
Her reward? A doubles tennis match with friends later in the evening.
“We’ve played twice already this week,” Lincicome said. “It’s just more cardio, to get out and run around for an hour or two. I’ve taken two lessons now so I’m getting pretty good.”
Ward had five birdies over her first nine holes, then added two more on the back to stay close. She made a 40-foot putt on the par-4 No. 12, offsetting two short missed putts on Nos. 6 and 9.
“The pace of the greens is really good,” said Ward, who recently changed putters. “I’ve just been fine-tuning my stroke, and seeing putts go in the hole always leads to confidence.”
Ward, whose last win on tour came at the 2005 Takefuji Classic, teed off 4 1/2 hours after Lincicome. By then, the leader was already well on her way to the impressive round.
“It didn’t surprise me,” Ward said. “The fairways are playing pretty hard and fast, and she hits it 50 (yards) past me. It was fun trying to chase her. I thought, ‘Well, game on.’”
Cristie Kerr shot a 1-over 73. Kerr likely needs to place in the top five to overtake Ai Miyazato for the No. 1 ranking.
This is the tour’s only stop in Northern California and could be its last. CVS/pharmacy is not extending its agreement with the tournament, leaving the event without its primary sponsor.
Lincicome became the first player to post an 11-under round since Paula Creamer accomplished the feat in the 2008 Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
Defending champion Sophie Gustafson shot an even-par 72.