16-year-old wins LPGA event

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16-year-old wins LPGA event


Lexi Thompson holds her trophy after winning the Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville, Alabama, on Sunday. [AP/YONHAP]

PRATTVILLE, Alabama - At 16, Lexi Thompson has become the youngest player to win an LPGA Tour event.

The Floridian closed with a 2-under 70 Sunday to win the Navistar LPGA Classic, beating Korean-American Tiffany Joh by five strokes to finish with a 17-under 271.

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

The victory brought a piece of history and $195,000.

“This has been my dream like my whole life,’’ Thompson said. “It’s the best feeling ever.’’

Thompson, who turned 16 in February, led by five strokes entering the final round and built that 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, bogeys on the next two holes that allowed Joh to surge within three strokes.

Thompson erased any concerns of a collapse with birdies on the 16th and 17th, and then the celebration and the kind words began.

“Paula Creamer came up to me and said, ‘If anybody was going to change the record, it should have been you,’’’ Thompson said. “That meant a lot.’’

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

“It’s just awesome watching your kid do something like this, but it is very nerve-racking, though,’’ Scott Thompson said. “This is a very special day.

“It was an unbelievable feeling to hear people cheering your kid like that. A very proud moment.’’

Thompson said her dad told her he was “going off to the side, because I might cry.’’

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

Now, the question is whether she 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 with two more to go.

“We haven’t even really talked about that yet,’’ Scott Thompson said. “We’ll worry about that as it comes, so we’ll see.’’

In the meantime, she’s still a kid having fun. She spent the evening before the tournament at Outback Steakhouse with fellow teen golfer Janie Jackson. What did they talk about?

“Boys. Boys definitely came up,’’ Thompson joked.

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.

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

Thompson had flirted with history before. She 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, Alabama, tied for the lead, but dropped to 19th with a closing 78. This time, she built such a cushion that bogeys on the 11th and 12th only cut her lead to five strokes over Lang and Lee. Thompson recovered with tap-ins for par on the next hole and the 15th and coasted from there.

“I definitely had a little nerves out there, but they were controllable,’’ Thompson said. “Once I hit the first tee shot I was like, ‘OK, I’m good.’’’


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

톰슨 ‘어리다고 놀라지 말아요~’

나비스타서 LPGA 최연소 우승
우즈 메이저 데뷔한 95년에 태어나
14세에 아마 1위 … 노먼 “스윙 완벽”

치마를 입은 로리 매킬로이?

 19일(한국시간) 미국 앨라배마주 프래트빌 RTJ 골프트레일에서 열린 LPGA 투어 나비스타 클래식에서 17언더파로 5타 차 우승을 차지한 렉시 톰슨(미국) 이야기다. 어려서부터 ‘제2의 미셸 위’로 기대를 모았던 그는 LPGA에서 첫 우승을 차지하면서 잠재력을 발휘하기 시작했다.

 US오픈 최소타 기록을 갈아치운 매킬로이(22·북아일랜드)와 비교할 만한 기록적인 우승이었다. 톰슨의 나이는 16세 7개월 8일이다. 폴라 크리머(25·미국)가 보유하고 있던 LPGA 투어 역대 최연소 우승(18세 9개월) 기록을 2년 이상 경신했다. 크리머는 경기가 끝난 뒤 톰슨에게 “내 기록을 깰 선수는 너밖에 없다고 생각했다”고 말했다.

 미국 언론은 톰슨이 LPGA 투어에 활기를 불어넣어 줄 것으로 기대하고 있다. 톰슨이 태어난 1995년이 타이거 우즈(35·미국)가 메이저 대회에 데뷔하던 해라면서 ‘여자 타이거 우즈’라는 이미지를 만들고 있다. 톰슨은 어려서부터 유명했다. 1m80㎝의 키에 미셸 위(22·미국)에 버금가는 장타를 쳤다. 큰 오빠 니컬러스와 작은 오빠 커티스 모두 골프 선수다. 어릴 적 오빠들과 골프를 하면서 지는 사람이 설거지나 청소 등을 하는 내기를 했는데 렉시 톰슨은 이길 때가 더 많았다고 한다. 큰 오빠 니컬러스는 “승부욕은 렉시가 가장 강했다”고 말했다.

 만 12세이던 2007년 US여자 오픈 예선을 통과해 최연소 기록을 남겼고 14세부터 아마추어 랭킹 1위를 기록했다. 지난해 초 톰슨과 함께 라운드를 한 그레그 노먼(56·호주)은 “그 나이에 저렇게 완벽한 스윙을 하는 선수를 보지 못했다. 10대 중반 때의 타이거 우즈보다 낫다”고 했다.

 홈스쿨링을 하면서 지난해 6월 프로로 전향했으나 큰 활약은 못했다. LPGA의 새 커미셔너가 학교를 그만두고 일찍 프로가 되는 것에 대해 부정적이어서 톰슨을 회원으로 받지 않았다. 초청으로 드문드문 대회에 나오면서도 그래도 꾸준히 성적을 냈다. 지난해 US여자오픈에서 공동 10위, 에비앙 마스터스에서 준우승을 했다. 올해는 에브넷 클래식에서 3라운드까지 공동 선두를 달리다가 마지막 라운드에 무너진 아픔도 가지고 있다. LPGA는 내년 톰슨에게 회원 자격을 줄 가능성이 크다. 내년 LPGA 투어에서는 미셸 위, 청야니, 톰슨이 한국 선수들과 좋은 경쟁을 할 것으로 보인다.

 한국의 LPGA 투어 통산 100승 달성은 또 미뤄졌다. 역전 우승에 도전한 이미나(30·KT)는 9언더파 공동 6위로 내려앉았고 재미동포 티파니 조(25)가 12언더파로 단독 2위에 올랐다.
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