Lincicome, Thompson lead US breakaway in LPGA Tour opener

Lincicome, Thompson lead US breakaway in LPGA Tour opener

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Brittany Lincicome and Lexi Thompson led a U.S. Solheim Cup breakaway Friday in the LPGA Tour’s season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic.

Lincicome shot an 8-under 65 to reach 17-under 129 at Ocean Club Golf Course, and Thompson had a career-best 61 to pull within a stroke.

“The way it’s been going the last two days, the putter has been making everything, which is obviously really fun. If I can keep that up, then it could be good on Sunday,” Lincicome said. “I’m just playing well, and still made everything today. Putter is on point right now and it’s exciting to see.”

Lincicome broke the tournament 36-hole mark, and Thompson shattered the course record of 64 that Lincicome set Thursday. Lincicome had a hole-in-one on the par-3 12th, using a 7-iron from 161 yards.

“When it went in I was like, ‘Do I jump up and down or do I just wave my arms?’ There are so many thoughts that went through my head, but obviously it’s pretty fun,” Lincicome said. “I didn’t feel like I hit the greatest shot, but got away with it and pretty impressive.”

Thompson had the second-lowest round in relation to par in LPGA Tour history, following only Annika Sorenstam at 13-under 59 in the 2001 Standard Register Ping in Arizona. Thompson had an eagle and 10 birdies.

“It’s just one of those days that’s hard to explain,” Thompson said. “As an athlete, it’s just like nothing can mess you up. Your swing is just in the zone and no interruptions, you’re just focused. I could have gotten out of whack on the first hole, I airmailed the green and then I chipped in. But if I let that get to me and didn’t get up and down or anything like that, I could have let that falter, but I ended up chipping in and it helped the rest of the round.”

Thompson admitted she thought about shooting 59.

“I thought about it, but I just wanted to keep on playing my own game and see where it goes,” Thompson said. “I was just pin-seeking the whole day. I was just trying to stay with my routine and have good tempo with my golf swing. That’s just all I’ve been working on.”

Gerina Piller was third at 14 under after a 65, and Stacy Lewis completed the Solheim Cup quartette at 13 under. Lewis had a 67.

“Just really believing in myself that I can do this,” said Piller, seeking her first victory. “I don’t have to play perfect golf and just go out there, play my game and focus on the process and the results will take care of itself.”

P.K. Kongkraphan and Megan Khang each shot 69 to reach 11 under. Brooke Henderson (65) of Smiths Falls, Ont., was 10 under along with Xi Yu Lin (67) and Austin Ernst (68).

“It was a great round today, a 65, I was really happy with it,” said Henderson. “Made a lot of putts and a lot of birdies. Yesterday I felt like I was really close to having a great round and today making those putts and get the momentum in my favour, really helped.”

Hamilton’s Alena Sharp (68) also climbed up the leaderboard, entering a tie for 44th a day after firing a 74. Maude-Aimee Leblanc (71) of Sherbrooke, Que., was tied for 56th, While Calgary’s Jennifer Ha (70) missed the cut, as did Quebec City’s Anne Catherine Tanguay (70).

U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster made the cut, following an opening 70 with a 72. She’s starting her 35th season on the LPGA Tour.

Second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn advanced to the weekend on the number with rounds of 75 and 69.

She won five times last season and took the LPGA Tour player of the year award.

Michelle Wie dropped out, shooting 73-74.

The Associated Press