GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. - After Brittany Lincicome hit one of the best chip shots of her career at the 18th hole with the championship of the ShopRite LPGA Classic in the balance, all she had to do was try to calm her nerves on the winning putt the best she could.
It wasn't easy.
"My hands were shaking so bad," she admitted.
But Lincicome steadied herself enough to drain the five-footer for birdie Sunday to finish in front of a three-way chase for the title and win the event on the Bay Course of Seaview Resort, her first victory since early in the 2009 season.
The long-driving Lincicome, who played her final 38 holes in par or better, carded a 5-under-par 66 in the final round for a 54-hole score of 11-under 202 to edge Cristie Kerr, the 36-hole leader, and Jiyai Shin, who finished the opening round in first place, by a stroke.
"When you haven't won since 2009, you don't know if you're ever going to win again," she said. "So it feels fantastic. . . . I was just super happy with the way I played and hopefully bigger and better things are going to come."
It was a tense day for Lincicome, a 25-year-old Floridian. After an eagle and two birdies on the front nine, she felt herself getting tight on the back nine but still managed to grind out eight consecutive pars coming to the 18th, a 501-yard par-5 where the three women in line to win played in three separate groups.
Lincicome was the second of the three to reach 18. She blasted a drive down the middle about 270 yards and choked down on a 3-wood for her second shot, which rolled left into tall fescue, an area where making clean contact between club and ball was a chore for players all week.
But Lincicome succeeded, chipping out with a lob wedge to five feet and sinking the putt, making her 9 under par (one eagle, seven birdies, one par) on Seaview's three par-5s for the weekend.
"I could go out and hit a whole bucket of balls and not get it within five feet like I did," she said of the chip.
"It wasn't a horrible lie. It wasn't in the tallest of stuff. So I guess if it was going to be there, it was probably the best spot to be. I just kind of told myself, 'Don't quit on it, keep the clubhead going.' Obviously, if you [decelerate] on it, it's going to go about two feet."
Lincicome had the lead. But she still had to wait for Kerr, playing in the final group, to finish.
The top-ranked American in the world rankings, Kerr hit two great shots to the front fringe but her 80-foot putt for the potential tying eagle wound up 5 feet short. She sank the birdie for a 69 and a 203 total where she was tied with Shin, who shot a 66.
"You've always got to anticipate that they're going to make it," Lincicome said of Kerr's chip. "So I told my caddie that maybe we should go to the [practice] green. She said, 'Why, so your hands can shake?' "
Shin, the world's No. 3-ranked player who had made a three-foot birdie putt at No. 17 to tie Lincicome for the lead at 10 under, came up short of the 18th green in two and pitched 10 feet past the hole, but her birdie putt leaked to the right.
Kerr made three early birdies to open up some distance between herself and the field but didn't make another until 18. She had back-to-back bogeys at 7 and 8 and couldn't quite catch back up to the leaders.
As for the 18th, she said, "It's tough to have to make an 80-foot eagle putt to make it into the playoff.
"It was obviously [Lincicome's] week," she said. "But it doesn't diminish my performance. I played great this week."
After picking up a victory exactly 26 months after her last one, the 2009 Kraft Nabisco, Lincicome might agree.
"Everything kind of fell my way," she said. "It was clearly my week."