Kuala Lumpur, October 13 – American teenager Lexi Thompson closed out a popular four-shot win in the US$2 million Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia with a final round 69 at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC).
Thompson finished on 19-under-par 265 on a breezy final day at KLGCC’s East Course, ending the Korean dominance in the event – all three previous winners hailed from South Korea, namely Jimin Kang (2010), Na Yeon Choi (2011) and Inbee Park (2012).
“Just a bunch of happiness, that’s for sure. Words can’t even describe the feeling I have right now. 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,” said Thompson, who pocketed a cheque for US$300,000.
“It got to I think a one stroke difference between me and Ilhee. Really close. I had a little off start – 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. I knew I had to just keep on birdieing and making pars,” she added.
18-year-old Thompson shot four birdies and two bogeys on her way to a 2-under-par 69 to finish the tournament four shots clear of second-placed Shanshan Feng of China, who overhauled South Korea’s Ilhee Lee with a final round of 4-under-par 67 to finish at 15-under-par 269. Lee, who topped the leader board after the first two rounds, concluded her campaign on 12-under-par 272 to lie in joint third place together with Norway’s Suzann Pettersen.
Asked about her effort to win back-to-back tournaments, Feng, who arrived in Malaysia just after her October 6 victory at the inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic in homeland China, said, “I was in the second to last group, so to be honest I had less pressure than the other girls. 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. But I think 4 under is still a very good round for me.”
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Michelle Koh topped the list of Malaysians with rounds of 70, 76, 74 and 74 to finish in 60th place with a respectable 10-over-par, and was presented the leading amateur prize. “I enjoyed every moment of it. The course is playing amazing, the greens are rolling great and the fairways are good, I struggled out there a little bit today at the beginning, but I sort of managed to pick up my rhythm and momentum. One thing I definitely learned is that no matter who you play with, it’s the game that’s more important, so you really have to focus on your own game rather than all the other external distractions. I guess I’ve really learned to focus on my own game and nothing else apart from that,” said Koh.
“We’ve witnessed four days of first class competition and yet another dramatic final round in this year’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. I would like to congratulate Lexi in whom we have another highly deserving champion with the form and consistency she has shown all week. At just eighteen years old, she is a fine ambassador for the game and an excellent role model for young Malaysians. On behalf of Sime Darby Foundation, I would like to extend our thanks to the players, the LPGA tour, the ground staff and officials at the KLGCC, the tournament organisers IMG and all the fans that have come to watch the on-course action, for making the fourth edition of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia the success it has been” said Tun Musa Hitam, Chairman of Sime Darby Foundation.
“Once again the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia has proved itself to be one of the top tournaments on the LPGA tour. With the combination of the course and facilities at the KLGCC, the accommodation at One World Hotel and the hospitality that we’re shown each year in Malaysia, it’s no coincidence that this tournament continues to attract the very best players in the world. On behalf of the LPGA tour, I’d like to say a special thank you to the tournament sponsor Sime Darby Foundation and to IMG for laying on another first rate tournament. We look forward to coming back again in 2014,”said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan.