How Brittany Lincicome keeps her cool

The LPGA star talks about coping with nerves, her take on the Solheim gimmegate saga, and why the younger players keep her motivated

Back in January, American golfer Brittany Lincicome defeated Lexi Thompson at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic for her seventh career win on the LPGA tour.

It was her first win since the 2015 ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills in California, where she also had a Major triumph in 2009. Then she smashed a hybrid from 210 yards to just four feet at the closing par 5 to win by one. She achieved an equally amazing shot on the 18th in 2015.  The resulting eagle put her into a play-off with Stacy Lewis and led to her eventual victory.

After competing in her 6th consecutive Solheim Cup in Iowa this summer, Mark Townsend chats to the big-hitter about her exciting career.

Do you prefer harder or easier courses?

The harder the better for me, if I have to concentrate that bit more that suits me. When it’s wide open I lose a bit of focus. My ball does not like to go straight all the time but, being long, I will still have a wedge or short iron in.

You have ranked as the No 1 longest driver four times since joining the LPGA Tour in 2005, how technical are you?

Zero. I am the furthest away from a technical player that you can get. My caddy tells me in very simple terms what just happened and what I might need to do. I would rather play a few holes than spend a couple of hours on the practice range and I would rather hit drives onto a narrow fairway or drop some balls in the rough than stand on the range.

When you play 18 do you always think about that shot from 2009?

It is always in the back of my mind which is cool. I know that I have been in that situation before and hit it close so you just think there’s no reason why you can’t do it again. I think one of my brothers took the hybrid and is still using it. You have to get it in the fairway and then make a smooth swing when the pressure is on. Luckily I hit it pretty close in 2015 and managed to make eagle.

Where are the two robes that you received after jumping into Poppie’s Pond?

The one in 2009 is mounted and in a shadow box at my parent’s house. The other is at home and I’ll sometimes put it on and watch a bit of TV, and try not to get it dirty. It’s a good memory.

Was it strange being in the playoffs with Stacy Lewis? Particularly as she’s a friend of yours?

I’ve been in a few play-offs and any playoff is very challenging. My record wasn’t very good back then so that made me nervous and playing against a friend is never easy. But someone has to lose and someone has to win and I came out on top, I’m sure Stacy will win a lot more Majors in the future. There were no hard feelings, people thought there would be bad blood but we’re good friends just like we were before.

What did you do in the nervy period of finishing and waiting for a possible play-off ?

There were a couple of girls on the putting green, Morgan Pressel was there and she said ‘you need to start practising!’ I didn’t know what I should be doing so I hit some chips and putts and she was shagging putts for me as I was trying to stay loose. I have seen a psychologist in the past but not for the last couple of years. My friends and now husband said ‘good luck’, I knew what I needed to do, it just took a couple more holes than I thought.

You are unlike most golfers in that you freely admit when you are nervous and how it affects you?

I have worked with VISION54 in the past and my caddy is a great help. I’ll say ‘I’m feeling really nervous here’ and she’ll say to take it one shot at a time and talk about fishing or dogs, and try and take some deep breaths and get my heart rate down. I know I play my best when I don’t know what score I’ve shot and I just let it happen.

Being 32, does that make you feel like a veteran of sorts on the LPGA Tour?

I feel like a veteran player which is weird as I think of someone like Juli Inkster as being in that category! Lydia Ko and all the youngsters coming out are great for the game and to see what they are doing is amazing. Lydia is such a nice girl and she can really play so that is a great combination. To get to World No 1 at 18 was incredible.

Does that push you on?

It definitely pushes you on. Stacy is one of my great friends and we have roomed together so I always root for her. Inbee (Park) has worked so hard and and she’s done so well. None of them seem to make any mistakes either, I don’t know how they do it!

What did you make to the Solheim gimmegate saga of 2015?

I personally blame it on our walking scorer in the group. Alison Lee said she heard something, I personally didn’t hear anything and I was standing by the side of the green.

He could have changed the whole situation, he had the right to allow Alison to replace the ball and knock the putt in and that would have taken the heat off everybody.

It was a tough situation to be in and it was sad to see how much criticism Suzann (Pettersen) had to take, it was all just very unfortunate and could easily have been wiped away. Someone asked if I was glad that it happened as it seemed to turn the matches around? Well it was the only match that I might have contributed something so it would have been nice if she had tapped it in! It won’t happen again, that’s for sure.

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