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Brittany Lincicome finds success by keeping things simple

One of the LPGA's longest hitters, Brittany Lincicome stays true to her personality: friendly, laid-back, uncomplicated. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A tweet with one word and a couple emojis might not be worth the proverbial thousand words, but Brittany Lincicome's March 10 reply to her good friend and fellow LPGA player Anna Nordqvist was telling.

"Practice practice practice," Nordqvist tweeted, with her message accompanied by a short video clip of the Swede hitting a shot on the range next to a large pile of golf balls.

"Overrated," Lincicome responded.

When it comes to practice, Lincicome would rather be a dozen miles out in the Gulf of Mexico fishing for grouper, such as the estimated 400-pounder she caught a few years ago.

In an era in which most professional golfers work feverishly on their swings and fitness, Lincicome -- defending champion at this week's ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club in Palm Desert, California, the first major of the LPGA season -- is a quiet lane off the busy street. Follow the 30-year-old on social media, and you'll see something about watching a movie or wanting a nap -- not a marathon session on the range.

One of the LPGA's longest hitters since joining the tour as a 19-year-old in 2005, the 5-foot-10 Lincicome stays true to her personality: friendly, laid-back, uncomplicated.

"I practiced a lot before I went to Thailand earlier this year and played horrible," Lincicome said. "You never know when it's your time or your week. You could work your butt off, and it works or it doesn't work. There is no right or wrong way."

The Lincicome way is to keep things simple. Although the Floridian took lessons from club pro Matt Mitchell as a teenager growing up in St. Petersburg, Florida, she has avoided formal instruction throughout a successful tour career in which she has won six tournaments (including two majors) and more than $7 million and played on five United States Solheim Cup teams. These days, her golf help comes from her caddie, Missy Pederson, and her husband of almost four months, Dewald Gouws, who is a long-drive competitor and golf entertainer.

"They know my swing better than anybody, especially my caddie," Lincicome said. "It's just a little thing here or there. They break it down in very simple terms. There's nothing technical, no big words -- alignment or something very silly. People talk about getting the club here or the club there, but I hate seeing my swing on video."

Lincicome is mystified when she hears of star players tweaking swings they won with.

"Why would you even try to mess with it?" she said. "It's mind-blowing to me."

With Lincicome, the critiques aren't about whether she has tinkered too much but toiled too little, especially because her inherent power -- "Even when I was 9 or 10 years old, I loved hitting it far," she said -- can be such a plus.

"A lot of people do think she has left something on the table," Hall of Famer and Golf Channel analyst Judy Rankin said, "but I also know from watching so many players and from personal experience that you really have to go with who you are. And Brittany does that as well as anybody. She has a balance in her life. If all of a sudden, she had a teacher and beat balls all day, she wouldn't be any better. She might be worse."

Golf Channel's Karen Stupples, a former major champion, said: "Being content with who you are and what you have to offer the game of golf is quite huge, and you're able to enjoy it so much more because of it. Being No. 1 in the world, that's a lot of responsibility and a lot of work and a lot of effort, and it's not for everybody. Everybody is entitled to live how they want to live. I think that's what she's doing, and more power to her."

In her 12th year on tour and eager to start a family, Lincicome knows more of her career is behind her than ahead of her.

"I think you always wish you had more success," she said. "But when I started, I didn't have any expectations. I didn't know if I'd keep my card, if I'd win once. Some girls have been on tour for 20 years and never won. I feel very blessed to have six wins. Being competitive, I'd love to have a couple of more wins before I retire."

Lincicome hasn't played well so far in 2016, with no top-10 finishes since a tie for eighth place in the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic. She has dropped to No. 18 on the Rolex Rankings after being sixth in the world last spring. Lincicome is currently the fourth-highest ranked American, behind Lexi Thompson (No. 3), Stacy Lewis (No. 4) and Cristie Kerr (No. 14). A country can have as many as four players in the 2016 Olympics, as long as those players are among the top 15 in the world.

"To make the Solheim Cup is very special, and to say you played in the Olympics would be a very cool dream," Lincicome said. "The Solheim Cup is sort of like our Olympics, but to make the team would be really special. Most every other sport has been in the Olympics, and golf hasn't for a very long time."

If there is an appropriate place for Lincicome to jump-start her season, it's at Mission Hills, where she has shown a knack for the dramatic.

In 2009, she closed out the Kraft Nabisco Championship with one of the finest shots anybody has ever hit on the 72nd hole in a pressure situation, a 3-hybrid approach over a pond from 210 yards that nestled four feet from the flagstick on the 485-yard par-5 18th. The eagle putt gave Lincicome a one-stroke victory over Kerr and Kristy McPherson.

Last spring in the tournament, with a new sponsor and new name and having not won a tournament since 2011, Lincicome again eagled the 72nd hole. This time, after bombing another big drive, she hit a 5-iron from 190 yards to within 10 feet. The 3 allowed her to tie Lewis, who was playing behind her, and beat her on the third playoff hole.

"I really didn't feel as much pressure as 2009 because then I was the playing with the girls and we were all in the lead together," Lincicome said. "Last year, when I got to 18 on Sunday, I wanted to just see if I could make an eagle and see what would happen. I love that entire course because it's a long-hitter's course. But when I get to the last hole, I tell myself to take a deep breath, hit it in the fairway, and it's game on. Then it becomes really fun."

Those moments are a lot of things, but they definitely aren't overrated.