- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIF. (AP) - Brittany Lincicome was brilliant when it mattered most.

Lincicome sank a 6-foot eagle putt on No. 18 to upstage good friend Kristy McPherson and win the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Sunday, capturing her first victory in a major.

Never worse than three strokes behind in the final round, Lincicome stayed close as McPherson and Cristie Kerr traded the lead back and forth on a perfect day at Mission Hills.

Trailing by one, the 23-year-old Lincicome broke through with an amazing sequence of shots on the par-5 18th. After hitting a booming drive down the middle of the fairway, she launched her approach shot across the water and onto the upper part of the green, with the ball curling down just above the hole.

She then calmly sank the putt to finish with a 3-under 69, pumped her fist and hugged McPherson, who finished tied for second with Kerr one shot back.

It was the third career victory for Lincicome, whose previous best finish in a major was a tie for second at this tournament in 2007.

Playing in the all-American final threesome, she became the first U.S. winner in the last six women’s majors. Kerr was the last to do so in the 2007 U.S. Open.

Shell Houston Open

HUMBLE, Texas (AP) _ Paul Casey won the Shell Houston Open for his first PGA Tour victory, beating J.B. Holmes with a bogey on the first playoff hole.

The 31-year-old Englishman has nine international victories, but had never won in the United States. The victory boosted Casey to No. 6 in the world rankings, a career high.

Holmes needed a win to earn a trip to next week’s Masters, but is the only player from last year’s Ryder Cup who failed to qualify.

Casey bogeyed the 18th hole in regulation to complete a 72 and tie Holmes at 11-under par. Holmes wrapped up a 69 almost three hours before Casey finished.

The players met on the tee of the 488-yard 18th hole, the most difficult hole of the tournament with an average score of 4.336.

Holmes hooked his tee shot into the pond that lines the hole up to the elevated green. Casey then drove into the fairway bunker on the right side and hit a safe layup to the front of the green.

Holmes reached the green with his fourth shot, then missed a long bogey putt. Casey two-putted from 27 feet to secure the win.

European Tour

CASCAIS, Portugal (AP) _ Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland earned his first European Tour win by beating Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain on the third playoff hole at the Estoril Open.

Both players had finished at 7-under 277 at the Oitavos Dunes course.

Hoey had four birdies in his first 10 holes on his way to a joint-best 5-under 66. Fernandez-Castano had four birdies for a 67.

Italy’s Francesco Molinari (68) finished one shot back for third, while England’s Paul Broadhurst (73), Jamie Donaldson (72) of Wales and Mikael Lundberg (70) of Sweden were at 5 under.

Nationwide Tour

HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) _ Australia’s Michael Sim won the Stonebrae Classic for his second career Nationwide Tour title, closing with a 7-under 64 for a six-stroke victory over countryman Cameron Percy and John Kimbell.

The 24-year-old Sim, also the 2006 PalmettoPride Classic winner, had an 18-under 266 total on the TPC San Francisco Bay at Stonebrae. He earned $108,000 in the inaugural event to jump from seventh to first on the money list with $182,017.

Percy and Kimbell shot 68s. Matt Every (71) and Martin Piller (70) tied for fourth at 10 under, and Andrew Buckle (66), Jeff Gallagher (69), Craig Barlow (69) and Nick Flanagan (69) followed at 8 under.

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