Lexi Thompson left Michelle Wie behind Sunday – off the tee and on the leaderboard in the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
The 19-year-old Thompson beat Wie into Poppie’s Pond, too, capping the breakthrough major victory with the traditional victory leap into the water near the 18th green. “It’s just a dream come true,” Thompson said.
Thompson closed with a bogey-free 4-under 68 for a three-stroke victory. She birdied four of the first nine holes to open a five-stroke lead and parred the final nine.
“This is what I’ve worked so hard for,” Thompson said. “This was one of my goals coming into the year, to win a major. I’ve always seen myself winning a Kraft Nabisco. It’s such a huge honor with all the history behind the tournament.”
Wie was second, making birdie on the final hole for a 71. She used her driver only four times, choosing to hit fairway-metal stingers on the other 10 driving holes – leaving her as much as 60 yards behind Thompson.
When both hit 3-woods, Thompson also had the advantage.
“I stuck with my game plan and I think it was the right play,” Wie said. “Who knows? In hindsight you would do something here or do something there, make a putt there. That’s the way golf is. I just couldn’t get anything going today.”
Thompson became the second-youngest major winner in LPGA Tour history at 19 years, 1 month, 27 days. Morgan Pressel set the record in her 2007 victory at Mission Hills at 18 years, 10 months, 9 days.
Thompson finished at 14-under 274 for her fourth LPGA Tour victory. She opened with a 73, shot a tournament-best 64 on Friday and had a 69 on Saturday to tie for the lead with Wie at 10 under.
The 6-foot Florida player had only one bogey – when she missed a 3-footer on the par-5 18th Saturday – in her last 55 holes.
“You have to hit it in the fairway and, if you miss it, just miss it small,” Thompson said. “I think just staying into it mentally. When I had a bad hole, I’d just fight right back. Or if I hit a bad shot, just know that I can get it up-and-down or get it on the green.”
Matt Jones earned his first trip to the Masters with a remarkable 42-yard chip-in on the first playoff hole, outdueling Matt Kuchar on his way to winning the Houston Open in Humble, Texas.
The win is the first on the PGA Tour for the Australian, who made a 46-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to reach the playoff.
He ended it one hole later, chipping over the right front bunker on the 18th and watching it roll in.
Kuchar, who bogeyed the final hole of regulation, then missed his bunker shot to give Jones the win – earning him nearly $1.2 million and a trip to Augusta National.
Jones, who began the day six shots back of Kuchar, shot a final-round 66 and ended the tournament 15 under overall.
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