KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Lexi Thompson ran away from a strong field in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday to win her second-career LPGA Tour victory and first as a Tour member at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.
The 18-year old American shot a final-round 69 for a four-day total of 19-under 265 to finish four shots ahead of Shanshan Feng. Feng shot a 67 to pick up her second runner-up this season, a week after she won her second LPGA title in China.
Thompson set a new scoring record for the event with a 19-under 265 total and shot all four rounds in the 60’s for the first time in her career. The four-day total also marks a career low for the Coral Springs, Fla. native. Her previous best was 271 which she shot on three separate occasions, most recently at the 2013 Marathon Classic.
“Just a bunch of happiness right now, that’s for sure,” said Thompson. “Words can’t even describe the feeling I have right now. 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. It means so much, especially to get it here in Malaysia.”
Thompson becomes the third Rolex First-Time Winner this season joining Jennifer Johnson (Mobile Bay LPGA Classic) and Ilhee Lee (Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic). She picked up her first LPGA Tour win as a non-member at the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic and made 43 starts in between her two victories. Thompson was a rookie last season in 2012 and said her second win was probably harder to capture than the first.
“Yeah, probably,” said Thompson. “I mean, it took a little longer than I thought. But it’s the top players in the world here, so it’s not easy. Every tournament you have to shoot super low and you have to have your A game, and that’s what I had this week.”
She said it was sweet to finally see all the hard work pay off in the two years she had in between wins.
“I’ve worked so hard between this whole last year since Navistar, just working hard on my game, improving on my short game in particular, and just to have it pay off, it means so much to me, and it’s just no stopping here, just going to continue to work hard and just going to try to win every tournament,” said Thompson. “I mean, that’s the same attitude I have going into every event.”
Thompson started the day with a three-shot lead over South Korean Ilhee Lee but had the margin cut to one shot through seven holes after an early bogey on No. 2 and two birdies by Lee on the 6th and 7th holes.
“It got really close,” said Thompson. “I had a little off start. I had a few bad tee shots. But I was just trying to stay into it and be confident with all my tee shots and shots into the green. But I knew not only the group I was playing with, Suzann and Ilhee, they’re both good players, but even players behind them were obviously coming up and playing well. I knew I had to just keep on birdieing and making pars.”
But the teenager used a stretch of three-consecutive birdies after the turn to push her in front of the pack and extended her lead to five shots through 12 holes.
“Yeah, those were big,” said Thompson. “No. 10, I just hit a close wedge shot and made like a four‑footer, but the birdie actually on 11 was really unexpected. I made about a 35‑footer. But those are always huge in a tournament, getting that momentum and getting the confidence going into the next hole and always pumping yourself up to make more birdies out there.”
After back-to-back bogeys by Ilhee Lee on Nos. 13 and 14, Shanshan Feng entered the picture for the race for runner-up. Feng would birdie two of her final three holes and sank a 30-footer on 18th hole to claim solo second.
“I was in the second‑to‑last group, so to be honest I had less pressure than the other girls,” said Feng. “I started six back, I believe, and I knew, because I played with Lexi yesterday, she’s in good shape. We know she’s not going to do bad today, so I had to shoot a really low score to catch her, which I tried but I didn’t make. I mean, after the win last week, the pressure is off, and I got my confidence back and I’m really relaxed on the course. I really enjoy playing now.”
Thompson walked to the 18th tee box knowing she had win No. 2 in the bag and tried to enjoy every moment including a warm reception from the Malaysian fans at the 18th green.
“I was feeling very good coming up to the 18th green,” said Thompson. “Like you said, there’s top players here at these tournaments, limited field events, and if you win one of these tournaments, you know you beat the best in the world. It means so much to me, and this tournament is one of the best out there and one of the best run events, so it’s a huge honor to get this one under my belt.”