Of all the
Cinderella stories in sports, the one that unfolded last week at the HSBC
Women's World Match Play Championship in Gladstone, N.J., may have been the
first to involve a genuine Cinderella. Brittany Lincicome, virtually a scullery
maid among the glamorous young princesses of the LPGA, won her first tournament
by beating six players head-to-head, including three of the tour's top
An ebullient 19-year-old known the length and breadth of Seminole, Fla.,
Lincicome ran the table on several generations at Hamilton Farm. Her victims
ranged in age from 16 (the wondrous Michelle Wie) to 46 ( Juli Inkster, who had
won four LPGA tournaments before Lincicome was born). "Tomorrow I'll wake
up and say, 'Did I just dream that?'" she said on Sunday after drubbing
Inkster 3 and 2 in the final. If the glass slipper fits, Brittany, wear
With her blonde ponytail streaming like a horse's mane, Lincicome is as
fanciful as a character in a storybook, and as whimsical: Her socks have
itty-bitty Winnie the Pooh pom-poms stitched on the heels. "The pom-poms
keep the footsies from disappearing into my FootJoys," she more or less
Lincicome took up golf at nine and made a name for herself--albeit a small
one--on the junior circuit. Her parents ran a day-care center in Pinellas Park
and couldn't afford to send her to an academy or hire a coach. Lincicome's
father, Tom, became her caddie. "It was always Dad and I doing it--the
home-school thing and all the sacrifices," she says.
Lincicome turned pro in 2005 and helped bankroll her rookie season by
babysitting. On the tour, in the shadow of teen prodigies Wie, Paula Creamer
and Morgan Pressel, she earned $127,452 but little recognition.
Lincicome qualified for the Match Play on the strength of a seventh-place
finish at the recent U.S. Women's Open in Newport, R.I. She carried a share of
the lead into the final round but double-bogeyed the 7th hole, then bogeyed the
8th and ballooned to a 78.
Her stumble at the Open made Lincicome, seeded 39th, something of a dark horse,
as the first three rounds pretty much shaped up as the Women's World Mismatch
Play Championship. The top five seeds breezed into the quarterfinals: Only one
match went the full 18 holes. Annika Sorenstam's third-round laugher with
Brittany Lang ended on 13.
But the wide
fairways and long par-5s of Hamilton Farm favor the long-ball game of
Lincicome, who ranks No. 2 on tour in driving distance at 281.7 yards. "If
it didn't snow in New Jersey during the winter," she said, "I would
probably move here."
This was the
second year the event was held at the hilly course, and probably the last. Club
members object to everything from the LPGA's hefty site fee to the public's
trampling the club's well-manicured bentgrass. Of the 6,700 tramplers on hand
for last Saturday's matches, roughly 6,672 were there to shadow Wie. Among them
was Nike founder Phil Knight, who last fall signed Wie to a reported $5 million
Fresh off her tie
for third at the U.S. Women's Open, the field's youngest player arrived eager
to match wits with her elders. She spotted Candy Hannemann 10 years, but the
brittle Brazilian got bounced 5 and 3.
Next was Christina
Kim, a chatty Californian who considers Wie a close friend. Regardless, Wie
gave Kim--as she did all her opponents--the silent treatment and let her driver
do the talking, bombing it 30 yards ahead of Kim on most fairways and storming
to a 3 and 2 win. She then played long ball to top former No. 1 Se Ri Pak 2 and
1, and run her overall record on the par-5s to 9-1-2.
In the quarters
Wie finally met her match. Staying with Wie bomb for bomb, the 5'10"
Lincicome blew away her foe with three birdies on the first five holes to build
an advantage she would never surrender. Lincicome had a harder time with Lorena
Ochoa, the tour's leading money winner. Lincicome twice went 2 up on her
Bible-study partner and twice lost back-to-back holes. When both players parred
the 18th, they moved to the 10th, where Lincicome sank a 20-footer for birdie
and Ochoa sank her head after missing from 19 feet.
Then Lincicome was
off to the final against Inkster. A nonpareil match player with a 5--1 record
in Solheim Cup singles, Inkster had upended Sorenstam on the 18th hole of the
quarters before crushing Creamer 5 and 4 in the semis.
In the final,
though, Inkster fell behind when Lincicome reached the green of the 533-yard,
par-5 2nd hole in two and two-putted for a birdie. Aided by her father, an
expert reader of curlicue putts, Lincicome won holes 3 and 4 with pars and had
a 5-up lead after eight. When Inkster conceded a par putt on the 16th, it was
through all those players and beating all of them, it means I actually did
deserve to win this tournament," Lincicome said. Her $500,000 take was
$107,742 more than she had earned in all 33 of her previous tour starts and
$499,950 more than she got for her best night babysitting.