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Thompson is youngest LPGA titlist

Lexi Thompson
Lexi Thompson found herself a trophy date for prom — a 20-year-old Marine.
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PRATTVILLE, Ala. (AP)

Lexi Thompson on Sunday became the youngest player to win an LPGA Tour event.

The 16-year-old Floridian closed with a 2-under 70 on Sunday to win the Navistar LPGA Classic by five strokes over Tiffany Joh.

Thompson shattered the age record for winning a multiple-round tournament. Paula Creamer set the mark in 2005 by winning at age 18. Marlene Hagge was 18 years and 14 days old when she won the single-round Sarasota Open in 1952.

Thompson, who turned 16 in February, led by five strokes entering the final round and increased her advantage to seven through 10 holes at the Robert Trent Jones Trail's Capitol Hill complex. Then came the teen's only big lapse on the pressure-packed day: She bogeyed the next two holes while Joh surged to within three strokes.

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However, Thompson erased any concerns of a collapse with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17.

"I was just focusing on playing the golf course today and doing my best," she said. "That's all I could do. I was a little nervous on the first tee, I'm not going to lie. If you're not nervous, you don't care."

Cool under pressure most of the day, Thompson and her caddie father, Scott, couldn't contain broad smiles as they approached the 18th green with the win, and a spot in LPGA history, in hand.

The home-schooled teen from Coral Springs, Fla., tapped in for par, hugged her father and got a celebratory dousing of bottled water over her head from Joh.

Now the question is, will she be granted LPGA Tour membership? Thompson will have to petition for an exemption of the 18-year-old age requirement.

The LPGA already granted her petition for qualifying school, and she won the first stage by 10 strokes in July.

Joh, who opened the day seven shots back, finished with a 68 after closing the gap with four straight birdies starting on No. 12. Her previous best finish was 12th at the CN Canadian Women's Open.

Angela Stanford shot a 66 to surge into third place at 11 under, posting three sub-70 rounds after an opening 73. Brittany Lang (67) and Karen Stupples (68) were 10 under.

Meena Lee, who opened the day in second and five shots back, finished with a 73 and tied with Stacy Lewis at 9 under.

Thompson got a little relief from the pressure, laughing along with Joh after her tee shot rolled inches to the right of the hole on the par-3 No. 16.

"I'm waiting for everybody's reaction," Thompson said. "I was really excited. It was a great shot."

She birdied to push her lead back to four strokes, acknowledging the fans with a brief grin and a tip of her visor.

Thompson closed with a tap-in for par and a drama-free finale.

She had flirted with history before. Thompson shared the 2009 Navistar LPGA lead after two rounds as a 14-year-old amateur. In May, she entered the final round at the Avnet LPGA in Mobile, Ala., tied for the lead, but she dropped to 19th with a closing 78.

This time, she built such a cushion that back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12 only cut her lead to five strokes over Lang and Lee. Thompson recovered with tap-ins for par on the next hole and No. 15 and coasted from there.

Thompson sailed through the first nine holes with one birdie and a bogey. Only once did she flirt with serious trouble, when her approach shot sailed well over the hole and within a couple of feet of a downhill slope into bunkers.

No problem. She two-putted for par and then made an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 8.

Tagged: Lee Thompson

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