Positive thoughts turn Lincicome into contender
PITTSFORD, N.Y. – When Brittany Lincicome missed her eagle attempt on the 16th hole June 12 at the State Farm Classic, she hit the wall. Mentally exhausted after winning and then contending for two consecutive weeks, Lincicome was “just over it.” She can’t imagine what players such as Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa experienced week in and week out.
“Your mind has to be so strong,” she said.
After the 25-year-old won her fourth career title at the ShopRite LPGA Classic June 5, Lincicome tied for third in Springfield. She enters this week’s Wegmans LPGA Championship ranked 14th in the world, and has a confident, easygoing approach to the tour’s most important stretch of the season.
“It’s more about believing in myself,” she said. “Trying to be better … wanting to be better.”
The mental shift caught Lincicome by surprise as much as anyone else. The week of the ShopRite she called her gurus at Vision54 complaining of a negative attitude she couldn’t shake. She hung up the phone with an order to replace negative thoughts with something positive.
For quite some time, Lincicome had been talking to Ryan Gildersleeve, a mini-tour player who lives nearby in Clearwater, Fla., about buying a new boat. Before she could purchase a Yellowfin, however, she had to win a tournament, something she hadn’t done in two years. So each time Lincicome had a negative thought during the first round of the ShopRite, she tried to replace it with “yellowfin.”
“I must have said it 500 times,” she said. By Sunday, Lincicome estimates the number was down to 20. “It was really weird how the mind can overcome anything.”
Lincicome went home after Springfield and caught a decent-sized trout from her trusty 22-foot Cape Craft. Turns out the Yellowfin costs six figures and doesn’t go in water that’s deep enough to suit her taste. The new boat is on hold for now.
Lincicome gives Gildersleeve credit for keeping her motivated during the off weeks. Much like her idol, Laura Davies, Lincicome loathes practice.
“When I’m home, and nobody is there, I won’t practice,” she said. “I won’t go out by myself. It’s so boring. There’s only so many songs on my iPod that I actually like.”
The pair typically play from 7,000 yards, and Lincicome, one of the longest hitters on tour, tries to stretch her game even farther.
At Locust Hill Country Club, it’s all about keeping it in the fairway. Tournament officials narrowed the fairways to make conditions more major-like the past couple of years. Lincicome finds herself with a wedge in her hand more often than not, which is a good thing if it’s not 100 yards, like today on the 18th. She hits her sand wedge 95 yards and her gap wedge 115.
“I either need to bend the wedges or do something,” she said. “It’s a number I get quite frequently.”
Then Lincicome admits to often telling her caddie to lay her up to 100 yards, even though she doesn’t have a club for that distance. She simply shakes her head when explaining the miscue. That’s where a looper like A.J. Eathorne can prove invaluable to Lincicome, who doesn’t like to overthink any aspect of life. She hasn’t had a swing instructor in 18 months.
Eathorne, a former LPGA player, began working for Lincicome last month at Sybase, and the two found almost immediate success. Lincicome loves to talk about anything but golf while playing, and said it was time for new conversations.
“I would like to have (the same) caddie for the rest of my life, but it’s kind of like a boyfriend,” said Lincicome, while standing in the middle of the 18th fairway. “Things start going the wrong way …”
As if on cue, Lincicome’s pro-am partner then hit his approach into the 18th so far right it hit the roof of a hospitality tent. Lincicome, playing in her third consecutive pro-am, didn’t give him any grief. She’s an ideal playing partner: engaging, down-to-earth and fun to watch. Men love to try and outdrive her, but they get most excited when she drains a long putt for the team, like the 30-footer she poured in on the 17th.
An example of Lincicome’s lighthearted approach: She brought a bag of carrots to feed the traffic cop’s horse on her walk from the 10th green to the 11th tee.
Eathorne, who caddied on the PGA Tour prior to her stint with Linicome, says her job is the same no matter the player – keep her boss in his/her best state of mind. For Lincicome, that might mean talking about her ideal man or the fish she caught over the weekend.
“I don’t need a lot of coaching,” she said. “I don’t need a lot of thoughts in my head.”
Just a simple path to a strong mind.