news 6 days ago

Lexi Thompson wins ShopRite LPGA Classic with eagle on 18th hole

The Philadelphia Inquirer — Joe Juliano The Philadelphia Inquirer

June 10-- Jun. 10--GALLOWAY, N.J. -- The professional debut of then 15-year-old Lexi Thompson gained a lot of attention in 2010, especially when she arrived at the ShopRite LPGA Classic riding shotgun in the No. 83 car of the Red Bull Racing team.

Now 24, with eight years as an LPGA Tour member under her belt, she has developed into the top-ranked American player on the tour who has shown an ability to rally when down, whether personally or in competition.

She showed her competitive side Sunday in strong winds at the ShopRite, coming back from a two-stroke deficit in her last three holes with a birdie-par-eagle finish. Her last putt, a 20-foot make for a 3 on the par-5 18th, gave her the victory where it all began, at the Bay Course at Seaview.

Thompson finished with a 4-under-par 67 in winds that blew steadily from 20 to 30 miles an hour all day, and completed 54 holes at 12-under 201 to overtake U.S. Women's Open champion Jeongeun Lee6. Lee6, the 36-hole leader, needed an eagle at 18 to tie Thompson but finished with a birdie for 70 and a 202 total.

"It means the world to me to get this win here," said Thompson, whose 11th career LPGA Tour victory was worth $262,500, helping her exceed $1 million in 2019 earnings.

"Red Bull and my other sponsors really helped out with the whole NASCAR feel of it so they came up with this great idea of coming in [in a race car] and jump out of it to the clubhouse. It was a great week memories-wise. Obviously I didn't play to my potential but there was a lot to learn."

She's learned quite a lot. She came in to this event at No. 4 in the world rankings. She left having won a tour event for the seventh consecutive year after last week's runner-up finish -- to Lee6 -- in the Women's Open.

She said she has grown stronger after seeing her mother, Judy, battle uterine cancer in 2017.

"Really what my mom has gone through, see just her attitude in life, has opened up my eyes for things that I've been through," she said. "It's not that bad. And if you still go through life with a positive attitude, you can get through anything. That has helped me out so much."

Thompson trailed Lee6 by two strokes beginning the day, and remained two behind after she three-putted the par-3 15th from off the green for a bogey. But Lee6 fell back with bogeys at 13, 14, and 15, while a birdie on 16 gave Thompson the lead. Lee6 matched the No. 16 birdie and the two were tied at 10-under.

At 18, Thompson, playing two groups ahead of Lee6, drove into the left rough and had 190 yards to the front of the green. Allowing for a fluffy lie, hard fairway in front of the green, and the fact that the wind was behind her, Thompson went with a pitching wedge, which she called "my 135 club."

The ball rolled to 20 feet from the hole and she drained the putt, pumping her first in the air.

"I got chills, like my hair on my arms was sticking up once I made the putt," she said.

Thompson then waited. Lee6 drove into the fairway at 18 but her second shot kicked right before reaching the green, giving her a 45-foot attempt to tie. She hit a good putt but the ball slid by, and Thompson had the victory.

"The way I'm playing the ShopRite tournament, it's amazing, and I'm pretty satisfied with finishing in second place," Lee6 said through her manager/interpreter.

Thompson summed it up like this:

"Just to get this win here," she said, "there's a lot of great memories, not only 2010 but now 2019."

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