Thompson makes history
At 16, she’s youngest to win LPGA event
PRATTVILLE, Ala. - Lexi Thompson, 16, has become the youngest player to win an LPGA Tour event.
She closed with a 2-under-par 70 yesterday to win the Navistar LPGA Classic, beating Tiffany Joh by five strokes to finish at 17-under 271.
Thompson shattered the age record for winning a multiple-round tournament held by Paula Creamer, who won in 2005 at 18. Marlene Hagge was 18 years and 14 days old when she won the single-round Sarasota Open in 1952.
The victory brought a piece of history and $195,000.
“This has been my dream like my whole life,’’ Thompson said. “It’s the best feeling ever.’’
Thompson, who turned 16 in February, led by five strokes entering the final round and built that to seven through 10 holes at the Robert Trent Jones Trail’s Capitol Hill complex. Then came the teen’s only big lapse on the pressure-packed day, bogeys on the next two holes that allowed Joh to get within three strokes.
Thompson erased any concerns of a collapse with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17, and then the celebration and the kind words began.
“Paula Creamer came up to me and said, ‘If anybody was going to change the record, it should have been you,’ ’’ Thompson said. “That meant a lot.’’
Cool under pressure most of the day, Thompson and her father, also her caddie, couldn’t contain broad smiles as they approached the 18th green with the win, and a spot in LPGA history, in hand.
“It’s just awesome watching your kid do something like this, but it is very nerve-racking, though,’’ Scott Thompson said. “It was an unbelievable feeling to hear people cheering your kid like that. A very proud moment.’’
The home-schooled teen from Coral Springs, Fla., tapped in for par, hugged her father and got a celebratory dousing of bottled water over her head from Joh.
Now, the question is will she be granted LPGA Tour membership? Thompson will have to petition for an exemption of the 18-year-old age requirement.
The LPGA already granted her petition for qualifying school, and she won the first stage by 10 strokes in July with two more to go.
“We haven’t even really talked about that yet,’’ Scott Thompson said.
Joh, who opened the day seven shots back, finished with a 68 after closing the gap with four straight birdies starting on No. 12. Her previous best finish was 12th at the CN Canadian Women’s Open.
Angela Stanford shot a 66 to surge into third place at 11 under, posting three sub-70 rounds after an opening 73. Brittany Lang (67) and Karen Stupples (68) were 10 under.
Meena Lee, who opened the day in second and five shots back, finished with a 73 and tied with Stacy Lewis at 9 under.