Lexi Thompson's record-setting week wins LPGA Kingsmill Championship

Dave Johnson
Contact Reporterdjohnson@dailypress.com
Lexi Thompson breaks Annika Sorenstam's tournament record at 20-under par.

In Gee Chun was spectacular Sunday — all week, for that matter. Under normal circumstances, her 15-under par would have been good enough to win the Kingsmill Championship.

But Lexi Thompson was anything but normal.

By shooting a tournament-record 20-under-par, Thompson capped a masterful week on the River Course with her first win of the year. With only two bogeys in 72 holes, she became the first player to win wire-to-wire here since Karrie Webb in 2006.

Thompson (65-65-69-65—264) had the greatest four days ever seen at Kingsmill. And she's only 22.

"The first three days, I struck it very well off the tee and the irons were good," she said. "Today was a little off off the tee and I kind of steered it around the golf course. But I'm not complaining with a 65, that's for sure.

"I just felt in control of my game and a lot more relaxed between shots. My caddie (Kevin McAlpine) was a big help with that."

Sunday's win came seven weeks following maybe the biggest disappointment of her career at the ANA Inspiration. After a TV viewer informed the LPGA of a rules infraction, Thompson was assessed a four-shot penalty — two for marking her ball incorrectly, two for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Thompson would have won the tournament by those four shots. Instead, she ended up losing to So Yeon Ryu in a playoff.

There had been three LPGA events since ANA, and Thompson played one. That was a tie for 17th in the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout two weekends ago.

If she hadn't already, Thompson has finally put that issue to rest.

"I'm so over that," she said. "This puts a lid on it."

If there was a moment that capsulates Thompson's talent and poise this week, it came on the par-5 15th. Her 4-shot lead at that point was strong if not insurmountable. But her tee shot landed in the left fairway bunker with a bad lie.

With a 9-iron, Thompson got out cleanly. The helped set up a 10-foot birdie putt to go 20-under.

"I was in that bunker two out of the four days," she said. "I wasn't planning on it to go 180 or (190) yards through the fairway, but I caught it very clean. It was definitely a shot I needed to pull off to be able to get my approach shot in there for birdie."

At that point, the only drama left was whether she could hold on for the tournament record. By parring out, she did and broke Annika Sorenstam's nine-year record.

Interestingly, 20-under was her goal. But not for record-setting purposes.

"I didn't know that was the record or anything," she said. "I just set my own little goals, and that way I don't focus on other players' games. I just focus on making birdies out there."

Chun (69-66-67-67—269) was so good that her 15-under would have won eight of the previous 12 LPGA events at Kingsmill. The only better finish by a runner-up is when Jiyai Shin and Paula Creamer tied at 16-under in 2012 — Shin won in a playoff.

"I had a bogey-free round, but (Thompson's) play was so good," Chun said. "I really enjoyed playing with her. I learned a lot from her today."

Sunday's final round couldn't have started much better for Chun, whose second shot on the par-4 No. 1 hit the flag and set up a 3-foot birdie putt. But she two-putted for par.

Thompson? She drained a 20-foot putt for birdie, which expanded her lead over Chun to four strokes.

Sole possession of second place is Chun's best finish of the season. Angela Stanford took over third at 11-under with a Sunday 66.

But the week belonged to Thompson, who in tandem with a Navy SEAL parachuted onto the River Course for Wednesday's pro-am. Imagine what she has planned in the future.

"You're just going to have to wait and see," she said. "Having Red Bull as a sponsor, I can do anything."

Johnson can be reached by phone at 757-247-4649.

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