KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Lexi Thompson shot a 2-under 69 to win LPGA Malaysia by four strokes Sunday, giving the 18-year-old American her first victory of the season.
"Words can't even describe the feeling I have right now," she said. Thompson finished at 19-under 265 to end South Korea's dominance at this tournament. This was her second career LPGA title, following the Navistar LPGA Classic 2011.
"It's sort of like a rerun from Navistar, just having that feeling walking up to the 18th green, embracing the fans and just knowing you have the win under your belt," she said. "It's very big. I have worked so hard between this whole last year since Navistar. It pays off and means so much to me."
Chinese star Feng Shanshan was second after a 67. South Korea's Ilhee Lee, the leader after the first two rounds, tied for third with second-ranked Suzann Pettersen another three strokes behind. South Korea's Amy Yang was fifth, nine shots off the pace. Sandra Gal of Germany, who shot a 66 in the final round, shared sixth with Chella Choi, Alison Walshe, Stacy Lewis, Beatriz Recari and Karine Icher.
Thompson began the day in front, leading Lee by three strokes. But the comfortable margin was down to two shots after the first nine as Lee made her move with birdies on Nos. 7 and No. 8. "It got really close," said Thompson, who bogeyed the second hole to drop a shot. "It was hard to grasp because I actually hit some really good putts and they just lipped out unfortunately."
The pressure on Thompson eased when Lee bogeyed the ninth hole. On the back nine, Thompson fired three straight birdies to put her back in command. "Those were big," she said. "No. 10, I just hit a close wedge shot and made like a 4-footer, but the birdie actually on 11 was really unexpected. But those are always huge in a tournament, getting into the next hole and always pumping yourself up to make more birdies out there."
She added another birdie on No. 16 to close in on the title, although she had a bogey on the next hole. South Korea's Jimin Kang won the inaugural event in 2010 before compatriots Na Yeon and top-ranked Inbee Park followed the next two years.