Thompson ral­lies for one-stroke vic­tory

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

Lexi Thompson made sure she didn’t beat her­self — and ended up de­feat­ing ev­ery­one else.

“I was just try­ing to be pa­tient,” Thompson said af­ter ral­ly­ing from four shots back to win the Mei­jer LPGA Clas­sic by a stroke Sun­day. “Re­ally, the whole day I was just try­ing to play my own game,”

The 20-year-old Florida player closed with a 6-un­der 65 at Blythe­field Coun­try Club for her fifth LPGA Tour vic­tory. She won for the first time since the thenKraft Nabisco Cham­pi­onship last year.

Thompson fin­ished at 18un­der 266 and earned $300,000.

“I ac­tu­ally said when I was on 10 that my goal was to get to 20un­der,” Thompson said. “I didn’t get it up to that, but I was just try­ing to fo­cus on my own game, fo­cus on my pre-shot rou­tine and hav­ing fun in be­tween shots. I think that’s what helped me.”

Lizette Salas, four strokes ahead af­ter the third round, tied for sec­ond with Ge­rina Piller. Salas fin­ished with a 70, and Piller had a 64.

Thompson birdied Nos. 1, 4, 5 and 7 to catch Salas. Piller made five birdies on the front nine, with her birdie at No. 8 briefly ty­ing her for the lead with Thompson and Salas.

But Thompson, ranked sev­enth on the tour in av­er­age driv­ing dis­tance and greens in reg­u­la­tion, kept bomb­ing drives, spin­ning wedge shots and mak­ing putts. A 6-footer for birdie off a wedge to the back pin on the 400-yard, par-4 16th put her three shots in front.

Thompson cre­ated some drama when she missed the green at No. 17 and rimmed a 4foot par putt. She caught a good bounce off a tree down the right side of No. 18 on her tee shot, ripped a shot from the rough to the mid­dle of the green and twop­utted for a win­ning par.

“I called my cad­die over and I told him to give me some­thing to think about to get my mind off it,” she said about the first putt on 18. “He just said some­thing so ran­dom, like, food. And I’m like, of course. But it kept me re­laxed and got me laugh­ing and it helped me go into that putt con­fi­dent.”

Thompson worked in the off- sea­son with John Den­ney, a Jupiter, Florida, per­for­mance coach who spe­cial­izes in the men­tal side of golf.

“That has helped me tremen­dously just to re­lax and have fun in­stead of just grind­ing 24-7 on the golf course,” she said.

Piller had hit all 15 greens and was 7 un­der for the round when she missed the green at No. 16 with tree trou­bles on the left side of the par 4. She made bo­gey for the first time. A 7-footer for birdie at No. 18 left her one shot be­hind.

“I knew it was go­ing to take a great day and I gave it a run,” said Piller, whose hus­band, Web.com Tour player Martin Piller, was in the gallery. “I just kind of stum­bled with the tee shot (at No. 16) at the end. I couldn’t af­ford one mis­take, and I made one.”

Salas had three birdies and three bo­geys through 16 holes, and stayed in it with a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 17. But she could man­age only par at No. 18.

AP PHOTO

Lexi Thompson is doused with wa­ter af­ter win­ning the Mei­jer LPGA Clas­sic golf tour­na­ment Sun­day in Bel­mont, Mich.

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