Lexi Thompson becomes youngest LPGA winner at 16
PRATTVILLE—American Lexi Thompson became the youngest champion in the LPGA’s 61-year history, the 16-year-old prodigy firing a two-under par 70 on Sunday to capture the Navistar Classic by five strokes.
Thompson, who is seven months and eight days beyond her 16th birthday, finished 72 holes on 17-under par 271 at the $1.3 million event to defeat compatriot Tiffany Joh five five shots and American Angela Stanford by six.
American Marlene Hagge won the 18-hole Sarasota Open in 1952 just two weeks past her 18th birthday to become what had been the youngest LPGA champion.
Paula Creamer, another American, was nine months and 17 days past her 18th birthday when she won the 2005 Sybase Classic to become the youngest winner of a typical multi-round event until Thompson’s triumph.
Thompson, who turned pro in June of last year, birdied the par-3 second and suddenly only playing partner Meena Lee of South Korea was within eight strokes of the lead, and Lee was six adrift.
A birdie at the par-5 eighth gave Thompson a personal-record 20th birdie of the week. Lee birdied the ninth to stay within six but began the back nine with a bogey to leave Thompson seven clear of the field at 17-under.
Thompson, who made only three bogeys in the first three rounds, stumbled with back-to-back bogeys at 11 and 12, missing six-foot par putts on both holes as her lead shrank to five shots with six holes to play.
Lee birdied the par-3 13th to move within four shots but faded as Joh charged into contention with a run of four birdies in a row through the 15th hole to pull within three of Thompson.
Thompson had led after 54 holes earlier this year at Mobile, Alabama, and squandered the lead with a last-round nightmare to finish in a share of 19th.
But Thompson made it clear that such bad memories were well in the past. After Joh had a short birdie miss at the par-3 16th, Thompson tapped-in for a birdie and sank another at 17 to seal the historic victory.