What looked to be a final-round LPGA match for the ages turned out to be nothing more than a victory lap for Lexi Thompson as she breezed through the Kraft Nabisco Championship with a 3-stroke win over Michelle Wie at Rancho Mirage, CA. Thompson and Wie began the day tied at 11 under, but Lexi took the lead for good after a Wie bogey on the third hole and never looked back.
Winning her first major was quite a feat for the 19-year old from Coral Springs, FL. Thompson began the tournament with 73 on Thursday but quickly moved into contention on Friday, firing an eight under par 64 on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club. She made only one bogey over her last three rounds—a six on the par-5 finishing hole on Saturday.
Thompson executed her game plan, and her shots, to perfection throughout the final round. She built a lead and then eliminated mistakes. On her way to winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Lexi’s lead was as much as five shots–and could have been more. With Wie using a strategy of hitting less than driver off of most of the tees to improve her accuracy, Thompson thrived on hitting long, straight drives leading to shorter approach shots and as a result, most times, shorter putts. Wie cut the lead to 3 strokes with a birdie on 14, but that was as close as Lexi would allow her to get.
Michelle Wie was easily second best on Sunday, finishing with an 11-under total of 277. Stacy Lewis, a past winner of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, carded a 69 in the final round to finish third at 281. Cristie Kerr and Se Ri Pak tied for fourth at six under par. First round leader Shanshan Feng was sixth, followed by Charley Hull, Azahara Munoz and Angela Stanford, tied for seventh at four under.
This is Lexi Thompson’s first major, but her fourth win on the LPGA tour. She said she was a little nervous on the first tee on Sunday, but pointed out that it “just shows how much I care about it.” Winning the event fulfills what she revealed to be her number-one goal coming into this year; winning a major. She added that she always pictured herself winning this tournament and “taking the leap into Poppy’s Pond.” Poppy’s Pond is the water hazard off the green on the finishing hole at Mission Hills where it has become tradition for the winners of the tournament to take the plunge after signing their scorecard.
With the win at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Thompson gets a winner’s check of $300 thousand and, at 19 years of age, becomes the second-youngest winner of a major tournament. Morgan Pressel was 18 when she won this tournament in 2007. The win for Thompson is impressive in one other respect. In her previous four appearances in the Kraft Nabisco, she had failed to finish in the Top-20.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky