Thompson wins LPGA Malaysia by 4 strokes
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — American teenager Lexi Thompson shot a two under 69 on Sunday to comfortably win the LPGA Malaysia, beating the field by four strokes.
The 18-year-old, who won her second career LPGA title and first of the season, finished on 19-under 265 to end the South Korean dominance at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Jimin Kang won the inaugural event in 2010 before compatriots Na Yeon and the top-ranked Inbee Park followed the next two years.
Chinese star Feng Shanshan was second on 269 after carding a 67 while Ilhee Lee, leader after the first two rounds, ended tied for third with second-ranked Suzann Pettersen three strokes further back.
It was the second career tour victory for Thompson, who also won the Navistar LPGA Classic 2011.
“Words can’t even describe the feeling I have right now,” said Thompson. “It’s sort of like a rerun from Navistar, just having that feeling walking up to the 18th green, embracing the fans and just knowing you have the win under your belt.
“It’s very big, I have worked so hard between this whole last year since Navistar, it pays off and means so much to me.”
South Korea’s Amy Yang was fifth, nine shots off the pace.
Sandra Gal of Germany, who shot a 5 under 66 in the final round, finished with a share of sixth alongside five other players: Chella Choi (-4), Alison Walshe (-2), Stacy Lewis (-2), Beatriz Recari (-2) and Karine Icher (+1).
Thompson began the day atop the leaderboard, leading nearest rival Lee of South Korea by three strokes, but the comfortable margin was down to two after the first nine as Lee made her move.
Lee picked up two back-to-back birdies on the 7th and 8th to close in.
“She (Lee) made a few birdies in that stretch of holes that I missed a few birdies putts. It got really close,” Thompson said, who bogeyed the 2nd to drop a shot.
“It was hard to grasp because I actually hit some really good putts and they just lipped out unfortunately,” she added.
Pressure on Thompson eased a little when Lee bogeyed the 9th.
On the back nine, Thompson came back strongly and fired three straight birdies to put her back in a comfortable position.
“Those were big. No. 10, I just hit a close wedge shot and made like a four-footer, but the birdie actually on 11 was really unexpected.
“But those are always huge in a tournament, getting into the next hole and always pumping yourself up to make more birdies out there.”
She added another birdie on 16th to close in on the title she went on to clinch despite a bogey on the next.