Lexi Thompson’s two previous LPGA victories, and her Ladies European Tour win for that matter, demonstrated her ability to finish the job with a comfortable margin. In the final round of the 2013 Lorena Ochoa Invitational, Lexi proved she could withstand the pressure of going head to head down the stretch against one of the best players in the world. Standing on the 12th tee, Lexi held a 3 shot lead over former world #1 Stacy Lewis. However, Lexi would bogey the par 4 12th while 2-time Major winner Stacy went on a roll, birdying 12, 13 and 14. From the 11th hole to the 15th tee, a 3 shot lead for Thompson turned into a 1 shot deficit. All the momentum was with Lewis. It looked like Stacy would steal the day from the up and coming 18-year old. Well, not so fast with the coronation. Stacy gave back a shot with a bogey on 17. With one hole to play, Lexi and Stacy were all square. It would come down to who could make a birdie putt. Thompson was away and struck first, draining her attempt. Lewis had to make hers to force a playoff. Unfortunately, she burned the edge to fall a shot short.
Lexi Thompson notches her 3rd LPGA victory, all before her 19th birthday in February. Moreover, she has 2 victories in the last two months and seems to be hitting her stride. This could be the beginning of a run to #1 for Lexi. Of course, there are players out there named Inbee, Suzann, Stacy and maybe Lydia, among others, who will have something to say about that. But at worst, having another young American to go along with Stacy Lewis fighting down the stretch for trophies is a boon for the tour. With luck that she remains healthy in her career, Lexi has maybe a good 15 years of top level play, maybe more. The next hurdle is winning a Major. Considering her massive talent, it’s a bit of a surprise that she “only” has 2 top 10s in Majors. I have to say, for all of her achievements she is still a teenager. So the paucity of Major contention is really nothing. It’s only a matter of time before Lexi starts being in the mix late on the final day of Majors. In fact, one of her top 10s was a 3rd place finish at Evian a few months ago this year. Sooner or later, she will raise a Major trophy. I’m betting on sooner.
All hail the 2013 LPGA Player of the Year, Inbee Park. As far as I am concerned she was the POY regardless of what happened in the last two tournaments. Unfortunately, the point system didn’t agree. Thank goodness that whole drama is over. Inbee was and is the Player of the Year. Plain and simple. The point system needs tweaking. With all of the success that South Korean players have had on tour, it’s fitting that finally there is a Seoul Sister as LPGA Player of the Year. 박인비, 축하 해요!
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SO YEON RYU
IN KYUNG KIM
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2013 LPGA TOUR WINNERS (Numbers in parentheses are official career wins)