BRITISH COLUMBIA

Defending Canadian Women's Open champion likes to battle against the best

08/21/2012 07:37 EDT | Updated 10/21/2012 05:12 EDT
COQUITLAM, B.C. - Brittany Lincicome faces no shortage of competition as she prepares to defend her title at the CN Canadian Women's Open golf tournament.

The 26-year-old Seminole, Fla., native is among 48 of the world's top 50 women's golfers who will compete at the Vancouver Golf and Country Club.

"I still wish all 50 could be here," she said after a practice round Tuesday. "It's such a wonderful event and an event that I look forward to defending or not defending. I would never miss this event unless I broke a leg."

Lincicome has yet to win on tour this year after capturing a pair of victories in 2011. She welcomes the chance to be crowned champion over the star-studded field.

"Obviously, I'd want to win a tournament with all the top players there," she said. "That means that you've beaten the best for those events. ... If I'm the one that gets to come out on top, it will be an unbelievable feeling."

Last year, Lincicome won by one stroke over U.S. compatriots Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie, who are both back, albeit at a different venue. The site of the tournament rotates annually.

Lincicome won in 2011 with a 13-under par 275 at the Hillside Golf and Country Club in Mirabel, Que., near Montreal. The switch to the Vancouver's club's 6,681-yard, par-72 layout has eased the mental burden of trying to repeat.

"It is going to be a little easier defending (by) not playing the same golf course," she said. "(It's) not the same pressure. I haven't played this golf course eight times back to back to back. It's a little different."

Lincicome hopes to pick up where she left off last weekend, when she finished in a tie for second at the Safeway Classic near Portland, Ore. The same goes for struggling world No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan, who placed 11th in the same tournament after a strong finish.

"I've never been that happy to shoot five-under ever in my life," she said. "So it's a great feeling."

Tseng, 23, won three of the first five tournaments this year, but she has had difficulty getting her game back on track the past couple of months.

"I'm not really angry," she said. "I feel more disappointed and feel upset a little bit. Every time I'm struggling, I'm kind of second-guessing myself."

Unlike many in the strong field, Tseng is quite familiar with the Vancouver club's layout. She won her first pro tournament on the same links in 2007 while competing on the CN Canadian Women's Tour.

Tseng said her return to Vancouver has brought her a lot of great memories.

"I was trying to get into the Canadian Open," she recalled. "So now I'm in the CN Canadian Open. It's just so much different."

Wie is looking for more of the same in Canada. Her second-place finish in this tournament in 2011 came after she won the 2010 crown in Winnipeg.

Like Tseng, the former teenage star has struggled this year while also completing her communications degree at Stanford. Her eighth-place finish last weekend was her first top-10 finish on the LPGA Tour this season.

"It's been my toughest year so far," said Wie, 22, who turned pro at the age of 16. "But I think that I've really tried to see positives through it and done a good job with that. I've enjoyed every single week. Even though I didn't play as well, I still try to take the positives out of it, because the game is tough enough without beating yourself up too much."

Accordingly, Wie has been trying to enjoy herself before play begins Thursday. She has visited Vancouver's Chinatown and other areas in a bid to experience the city's culture.

"I'm loving it here," she said. "It's like Asian-food Heaven."

Notes_Brooke Henderson, 14, of Smith Falls, Ont., will become the youngest player to compete in a Canadian Women's Open when she tees off in the first round. Henderson gained entry by winning a Canadian Women's Tour event earlier this year in Beloeil, Que. ... The tournament champion will take home $300,000. ... Lincicome, Tseng and Wie all welcomed Augusta National's decision this week to allow female members for the first time. All expressed a desire to play the famed course in Georgia that serves as home of the Masters. "Playing in a Masters has always been a dream of mine," said Wie. You've got to dream big, but you never know. But it will always be a dream of mine."