MIRABEL, Que. - Brittany Lincicome put a new spin on the old show tune "Singing In the Rain" as she gritted her way through a storm to victory in the US$2.25 million CN Canadian Women's Open.
The 25-year-old American made a dramatic par save in a driving rain to close with a 2-under 70 and edge defending champion Michelle Wie and Stacy Lewis by one stroke at Hillsdale Golf Club on Sunday.
Lincicome, who earned $337,500, said she kept herself calm by singing country songs to herself as she parred the final six holes to stay ahead of Lewis and hold off Wie, the winner last year in Winnipeg. Wie sank long putts at the 15th and 17th to make it close with an even-par 72.
Lewis had put up the low score of the day — a 67 on a day in which only 16 of 78 were under par — more than an hour earlier.
"I was very patient, singing a lot of songs, very chatty," said Lincicome, who said singing to herself is part of her sports psychology program to stay focused. "The weather was not great, but I was still having fun. I'm definitely going to remember this win."
In her post-match interview, she cautioned that "I'm not a good singer, so I'm not singing for you."
The victory was nearly as sweet for her caddy, former LPGA regular A.J. Eathorne of Penticton, B.C., whose own playing career has been on hold since 2009.
Lincicome pulled her tee shot on 18 into a tent and had to take a drop, but managed to get the ball up near the green, chip it close and make the winning putt. She also had fine saves on the eighth and ninth.
"I'm growing as a golfer, I guess," said Lincicome. "If this would have happened a couple of years ago I'm not sure how I would have handled it."
Playing in the last group, Wie needed birdie on 18 to force a playoff, but missed the green to the right and left her chip shot wide and short. She made the putt to keep a share of second place and win $177,981.
"I'm proud of the way I hung in there," said Wie, 21. "Coming in, I had a lot of clutch shots that I can really take positives from. It feels good to be back in contention again."
Fears that the final round would be washed out by the remnants of tropical storm Irene did not pan out. Rain and some nasty gusts of winds hit the lead groups about midway through their rounds, but nothing that would force a stoppage in play.
Organizers moved up start times by 90 minutes, had the players grouped into threesomes instead of twosomes, and started groups on both the first and tenth tees to get the fourth round in before the course could be washed out.
Lincicome got her birdies in on the first, fifth and seventh holes. She survived on bogey on the 12th, but the toughest test came on the 17th, which had a strong crosswind, and the 18th, which played straight into the gusts.
Lewis went out earlier and didn't catch any rain until the 16th hole of her bogey-free round.
"It was still windy even when we teed off," she said. "I knew the day was going to be hard and you just have to get through it — grind over every putt and every shot."
Americans took the top five placings, with Cristie Kerr (71) and Angela Stanford (72) finishing at 11 under. All five are members of the U.S. Solheim Cup team.
They were followed by four South Koreans at 10-under 278 — Hee Won Han, Jenny Shin, Jiyai Shin and Na Yeon Choi.
World No. 1 Yani Yseng of Taiwan closed with a 73 to finished tied for 29th at 4 under.
Eathorne caddied for more than a year on the PGA Tour for Kris Blanks, then she let it be known on Facebook she was available and was contacted by Lincicome.
Lincicome has won two-of-four tournaments since they began working together, including the SafeRite Classic in Atlantic City in June. It is the first time Lincicome has won two events in one year and was her fifth LPGA win overall.
"Our first week together was Match Play and we lost the first round, but the next week was Atlantic City where we won," Lincicome said with a laugh. "We had two weeks off before Portland last week, so jokingly, I told her I was going to fire her and rehire her back for Portland.
"So technically, Portland was our first week back together and this week, the second week, we won. So I just have to keep firing and rehiring her."
Eathorne said she enjoyed the tournament almost as much as Lincicome.
"I never won on Tour myself, so it's kind of cool to say I've been involved in two wins in one year," she said. "I guess I never thought it would get that good, that fast.
"It's been a lot of fun this week being a Canadian in Canada. Everyone's asking me why I'm not playing and obviously there's a very good reason I'm not playing. I've got a great job. I can be involved in a win and I know my game is not where it needs to be to do that."
The low Canadian was Jessica Shepley of Oakville, Ont., at 1 under. And 16-year-old Jisoo Keel of Coquitlam, B.C., was low amateur for the tournament at 4 over.
Next year's Canadian Women's Open is at the Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam.
There will be a second LPGA event in Canada next year. Rich Kuypers, who was assistant tournament director for the Open, will leave Golf Canada to become director of the new tournament in Waterloo, Ont.