PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Brittany Lincicome won the LPGA Tour’s season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Sunday in wind and some late rain, beating U.S. Solheim Cup teammate Lexi Thompson with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff.
Playing a group ahead of Thompson, Lincicome birdied the par-5 18th — after dropping strokes on 14 and 17 — for a 5-under 68 and 26-under 266 total — one off the tour record for relation to par to by Annika Sorenstam on a par-72 course in the 2001 Standard Register Ping.
With Lincicome looking on from a tent, Thompson played the 18th as strong sideways rain blew through the Ocean Club, holing a 3-footer for her third straight par and a 70 .
“I was thinking that I was very lucky,” Lincicome said. “Obviously, the last three or four holes for all of us was really unfortunate. It was gusting. The par 3 that we played, 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. So, for Lexi to make par on 18 with those conditions is pretty awesome.”
The first U.S. winner since Brittany Lang in the U.S. Women’s Open, the 31-year-old Lincicome won her seventh tour title and first since the 2015 ANA Inspiration. She’s projected to jump from 48th to 34th in the world ranking.
“It was pretty incredible. Just the leaderboard all week has been amazing,” Lincicome said. “Obviously, a lot of Americans up at the top. Obviously, friends of mine, so to come down to the final stretch, I played with Lexi yesterday, and it was an awesome day. We had so much fun, and to obviously have the playoff today is a bummer, but it’s just incredible.”
In the playoff on 18, Lincicome hit her hybrid second shot from 227 yards to 20 feet and tapped in for birdie.
“I just put the hybrid in actually a couple of weeks ago, and it’s been one of my new favorite clubs. So I hit it perfect, right where we were aiming and ended up with the same putt that I had the first go-round, which is pretty crazy, and knew the line better and just, obviously, super, super nervous. My hands were shaking pretty bad, I was just happy to kind of lob it up there and get the easy birdie.”
Thompson went through the green in two and, after Lincicome holed out, missed a 15-foot birdie try.
“I played well all week. My putter definitely saved me,” Thompson said. “I made a lot of birdies out there, just a lot of positives to take from the week. Brittany played amazing, amongst a lot of other players out there, and it just got tough out there today, especially with three or four holes to go. That’s the hard stretch.”
Stacy Lewis, undone by a triple-bogey 7 on No. 14, was third at 25 under after a 71. Lewis was second in 2014 and tied for second last year. The Texan is winless since June 2014.
“Generally, I played pretty well. Obviously, I had one bad hole,” Lewis said. “Kind of a series of bad breaks and just proud of the way I came back there and finished really good, and really had a chance there coming up 18, which is really all you can ask for.”
On 14, she hit a tree and went into knee-high plants on the other side of the cart path. Her next shot ricocheted off the far curb of the path and went back across the path into grass as high as the plants.
“The iron shot I just pulled a little bit and it caught a palm tree,” Lewis said. “I didn’t have much of a shot the next shot, and was just hoping to catch the cart path before it caught the edge and it would skip over it, and just came out of there better than I thought. Didn’t have a shot once it was in the weeds and had to take an unplayable.”
Gerina Piller (71) completed the Solheim Cup quartette atop the leaderboard at 24 under.
Nelly Korda birdied the two late par 5s in a 67 to tie for fifth at 21 under in her first start as an LPGA Tour member. The 18-year-old Korda is the sister of Jessica Korda — the 2014 winner who shot a 65 on Sunday to tie for 16th — and daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda.
Pornanong Phatlum matched Nelly Korda at 21 under, also finishing with a 67.
Lincicome earned $210,000.
“I’m going to the casino tonight. Hopefully, try not to lose all of our money that we won today,” the Pure Silk endorser said. “I haven’t been to the casino since Wednesday night, so I’m itching to go play.”