For most of the afternoon, Thidapa Suwannapura was waiting. But the waiting was worth it.
After one playoff hole she notched her first LPGA Tour victory at the Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I.
Suwannapura, who finished about an hour before the final group, saw her 14-under par score hold up as Brittany Lincicome lipped out for a birdie on her 72nd hole to get to 15-under and also finished at 14-under.
Lincicome saw her second shot in the playoff find the water in front of the green, but still toughed out a par save.
However, Suwannapura made a birdie after playing the par-5 18th in textbook fashion.
She found the fairway with her tee shot, laid up to a comfortable yardage, and knocked a chip to just six feet. She drained the birdie, center-cut, and pumped her fist in jubilation before being doused in water by her supportive family.
Her career-best finish prior to Sunday was a 7th at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship, and in 120 career LPGA Tour starts, she had only notched two top-10’s.
However, after closing out her final round going eagle-birdie to shoot a 6-under-par 65 (tied for the round of the day), she finally found the winner’s circle.
Henderson had a chance
Brooke Henderson recorded her seventh top-10 finish of the year Sunday at the Marathon Classic, but had it not been for a bit of a balky putter on the back nine, she may have instead been celebrating her second win of the year.
The Canadian was unable to notch a birdie on either of the back-to-back par fives to finish after making bogeys on No’s 15 and 16. She fell short of the playoff at 14-under by one shot.
But, she said she felt great with her result after missing the cut a year ago.
“It's great to come back here and kind of put the last two years out of my mind and know that I can play really well here. Third is awesome, so I'm really happy, another top 10 for this year,” she said. “And it was great to kind of be in contention again and seeing your name at the top of the leaderboard gives you a lot of confidence going forward.”
Lincicome leads into the PGA TOUR with a great result
Brittany Lincicome was less than inch away from going into next week’s Barbasol Championship on the PGA TOUR on the highest of highs.
A victory was not to be, however, as her birdie try on the 72nd hole horseshoed around the hole and eventually lipped out. She finished at 14-under.
Lincicome said, despite being a professional on the LPGA Tour for more than a decade, she was very nervous standing over that putt.
“I was shaking so bad. I had to take so many deep breaths. So it's kind of cool to have those nerves, but learning how to play through them after 12 years of being a pro… 14 years of being a pro, I still haven't figured it out, so that's a little disappointing,” she explained. “(The putt) caught a lot of the hole, so I feel like I hit a pretty good putt for how nervous I was. I really haven't seen one that aggressive in a long time, so that was just unfortunate really.”
Her runner-up finish was her best result since she captured the season opener in the Bahamas.
Lincicome will become the first woman since 2004 to play in a PGA TOUR event next week in Kentucky. She said she leaned on feedback from Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster who said if she wasn’t nervous, she wasn’t human.
“I still have the drive. I still want to compete. I still want to be the best that I can be. And I guess if I didn't have the nerves, I should probably give up the game,” she said.
Lewis focuses on family
After a 5-under-par 66 Sunday, Stacy Lewis hung up her clubs for the rest of the season as she is expecting her first child in a couple months. It was a fitting end to her 2018 season, as the Marathon Classic is her hometown event.
Lewis’ best finish this year was a tie for seventh at the LPGA Volvik Championship, as she looked to become just the second professional golfer to win while pregnant (Catriona Matthew won the unofficial 2009 Brazil Cup while five months pregnant and Nancy Lopez won the Sara Lee Classic in 1991 at 5.5 months pregnant).
She finished tied for 38th this week. Her husband Gerrod (the women’s golf coach at the University of Houston) acted as her caddie.
“It was a lot of fun. He got to see the other side of it. He definitely got a little frustrated with me out there, and I thought it was good for him to learn a little bit to help his kids when he gets home too,” said Lewis.
Lewis’ said her first stop during her break is to head to Pebble Beach after a day with a sponsor on Monday, where she’ll be along with her husband as he recruits another crop of girls for his team.
She said she’s only been home for about a week and a half in the last three months so she’s not yet got the baby’s room set up.
“I have a few golf and sponsor things to do, seeing family and travel with my husband a little bit. So not going to really be home until October when I'm forced to be home. So I don't know what I'm going to do to be home for a month,” she said. “I'm excited. I'm excited about what's to come.”
Steady Sunday for Ernst
Austin Ernst seems primed to find the winner’s circle once again sooner rather than later after another top-five finish – her second such result in her last four events.
Ernst shot a 5-under-par 66, one of the best rounds of the day, to move into fourth place alone at the Marathon Classic. Last month she finished runner-up in Arkansas, her best finish of the year.
“It's good to be back in the hunt and get those nerves flowing a little bit,” she said.
Ernst bogeyed her fifth hole of the day but made six birdies over the last 13 holes to finish at 5-under. She said she had a “solid” day.
“I don't think it's going to be good for a win. But it was a really solid week, and I love this golf course,” she said. “I feel like it suits my game well, and that's why I always like coming back here.”