(Reuters) - Brittany Lincicome beat fellow American Stacy Lewis at the third sudden death hole to win the ANA Inspiration in California on Sunday.
Lincicome, who eagled the par-five 18th to force the playoff, won with a par at the same hole to claim her second victory at the LPGA’s opening major at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage.
She also eagled the final hole for her previous victory six years ago, but this time she needed to work overtime after carding a closing 69 to finish tied with Lewis (70) at nine-under 279, one stroke ahead of compatriot Morgan Pressel.
Overnight leader Kim Sei-young of South Korea struggled in strong winds on the back nine and faded to tie for fourth, two shots behind. She went eight consecutive holes without a par on the back nine.
Long-hitting Lincicome had little pressure playing the 18th hole in regulation because she did not give herself any hope of victory and rifled a five-iron to six feet to set up the eagle chance.
She said she felt considerably more heat in the playoff.
“The first time it felt fairly easy because I thought I was so far out of the tournament that I never had a chance,” she told Golf Channel after tapping in her winning putt from a foot.
“I’m standing here physically shaking like a leaf. That’s how nerves get to you.”
Lincicome said her approach at the 18th to set up eagle was almost a carbon copy of her shot that set up victory six years ago.
“It took the same slope like it did in 2009, which is pretty crazy. To roll down to almost the same spot it was in 2009 is really crazy,” she added. “Today just must have been my day.”
Lincicome also shot a final round of 69 to finish nine under par in 2009.
Lewis was dejected after throwing away the playoff with a bogey, though there was an element of poor fortune after her second shot stopped in a sand-filled divot and contributed to a bad approach shot to the green.
“It was just bad luck really, getting it right in the middle of a divot there,” she said. “It was just a hard lie. I played great golf this week so it’s really hard to be too upset.”
Dual major champion Lewis had three chances to win at the 18th, missing a birdie putt from about 12 feet in her final round and then failing twice more in the playoff from similar distances.
She dropped her putter in disbelief when her attempt at the second extra hole shaved the cup moments after Lincicome had also missed by a whisker on a similar line.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford