GGM January Pro Golf Wrap Up

2018 Champion, Brittany Lincicome

Welcome to the January Pro Golf Wrap-Up – everything you need to know in the world of golf expertly curated by your friends at Global Golf Management.

As the first – and only – LPGA event in the month of January, the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic stands out in the golf world and enjoys a unique spotlight. Deservedly so. It never fails to disappoint, and this year was no exception, even with the weather challenges that tried to blow away the competition.

With darkness closing in, Brittany Lincicome shined bright down the stretch at the Ocean Club and Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. The Florida native fired a final-round 7-under-par 66 with birdies at four of her last five holes to successfully defend her title and provide the most entertaining finish on either the women’s tour or on the PGA TOUR in January.

Winners on the PGA TOUR in the first month of the year were world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, as he won in a walk, Patton Kizzire at the Sony Open in Hawaii, youngster Jon Rahm in the CareerBuilders Challenge and former world No. 1 Jason Day at the Farmers Insurance Open, who needed six extra holes and an extra day to defeat Alex Noren in a playoff.

But nothing compared to Lincicome’s dramatic comeback in the Bahamas on January 28 as the sixth annual event avoided an extra day by finishing under the lights to ward off the approaching nightfall.

A Pure Silk ambassador – and, in fact, the first – Lincicome, 32, won her eighth LPGA title and her first since her playoff victory over Lexi Thompson a year ago here. This time, despite a slow start in the opening round, when she shot a 1-over 74, Lincicome won outright, beating Wei-Ling Hsu by two strokes and Amy Yang and world No. 1 Shanshan Feng by three. Lincicome finished 54 holes in 12-under 207 after beginning the third round two behind Feng.

“I’ve never defended before so that’s pretty cool,” said Lincicome, who played 27 holes on Sunday and did so in a collective 10 under par with 12 birdies and two bogeys. Her 67 was the low round of the tournament until she bettered it with her closing 66. The Florida native is the first player to successfully defend an LPGA title since Shanshan Feng at the 2017 TOTO Japan Classic.

“It was totally on my bucket list,” Lincicome added about winning back to back for the first time.

Hsu (pronounced “she”) was tied with Lincicome until she bogeyed the par 3 17th hole after a spectacular chip in to save par at 16. Lincicome birdied 17 with a 12-foot putt to move two strokes ahead and then played the 18th hole in the gloaming. She converted a six-foot birdie at 18 under floodlights that had been used earlier in the day to illuminate the practice area when play resumed at 7 a.m. EST.

Hsu closed with a 5-under 68, her best finish since joining the LPGA in 2015. Her best previous finish was T-89 at the 2015 Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic. Yang had a 70 and Feng a 71 on Sunday. Danielle Kang carded a 68 to end up alone in fifth at 8-under 211.

 “I was very happy for my performance this week because my low ball wasn’t playing that great all the time,” Hsu said. “Trying to improve it over the winter and it looks like it done pretty good this week and got to play a lot of low shots and playing into the wind so very happy for me, especially my rhythm this week was very good.”

The sixth edition of the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic was reduced to 54 holes after sustained high winds gusting to 43 miles per hour caused a suspension of the second round for nearly 27 hours.

Lincicome won $210,000 and 500 points in the first event of the Race to the CME Globe competition. She emerged with the win amid a bunched leaderboard and winds that were still fairly strong. At one point on Sunday, she was among five players tied for the lead with Feng, Hsu, Yang and Lexi Thompson, who ended up tied for sixth at 212.

“The conditions were pretty rough out there and you just kinda had to stay patient and have some fun with it,” Lincicome said. “There wasn’t a lot you could do, and my putter was incredible all week, I made so many good putts, so many good par saves and good birdies coming down the stretch which really proved a lot to myself I think today playing 27 holes. 

On the same day Lincicome triumphed, Day and Noren played 23 holes (five extra) at the breezy South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course without deciding a winner. They tied with Ryan Palmer at 10-under 278 after 72 holes, but Palmer was eliminated with a par on the first hole of their sudden death playoff. Day finally won it with a birdie on the first hole Monday morning for his first win since the 2016 Players Championship.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Day said. “… I worked very hard in the offseason to get back in this position.”

Speaking of overtime, Jon Rahm of Spain went four extra holes before claiming his second PGA TOUR title in La Quinta, Calif., at the CareerBuilders Challenge, the event long hosted by the late Bob Hope. Rahm moved to No. 2 in the world when he sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the fourth extra hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West to beat Andrew Landry. 

In yet more sudden death drama, Patton Kizzire became the first two-time winner on the TOUR’s wrap-around season when he outlasted James Hahn at the Sony Open in Hawaii. The two men played six extra holes at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu before Kizzire emerged with the victory to take the lead in the season-long FedExCup standings. Both men finished at 17-under 263, with Hahn shooting a final-round 62 only to lose after the lengthy playoff.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson needed no extra effort in his victory to start the year at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Resort in Maui, Hawaii. He blitzed the field at the Plantation Course to win by eight strokes with a 24-under 268 total. 

Johnson’s victory was the 17th of his career and erased a disappointing loss at the WGC-HSBC Championship a few months earlier when he let a six-stroke lead slip away in the final round to Justin Rose. This time, he won going away.

Stay tuned here and on Global Golf Management Twitter for next month’s Pro Golf Wrap-Up.