Lewis holds off Thompson in Mobile
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By JOHN ZENOR
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) Stacy Lewis sweated out a win that came down to the last pressurized putt in a day full of them.
Lexi Thompson, meanwhile, was at her poised best - not her worst - on a Sunday in Mobile.
Lewis outlasted the rising teenager to win the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic by one stroke for her second LPGA Tour title in a round that supplied a measure of vindication for both.
Lewis, five strokes ahead early in the day, reclaimed the edge with a birdie on No. 16, while the 17-year-old Thompson parred the final hole and had to wait.
Lewis parred out. Her week was so solid that her finishing 3-under 69 was her worst round en route to a 17-under 271 total on The Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove, part of the Robert Trent Jones Trail. The former Arkansas star also won the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
"I'm getting more comfortable in this situation," said Lewis, who earned $187,500. "I think that's a lot of it, and it's definitely been coming. I lost in a playoff in Australia, so I knew I was due."
She has five top 10s in eight events this year, including a tie for second in the Women's Australian Open.
Thompson made her earn it, and found redemption from her final-round fall in Mobile a year ago. She didn't flinch under the pressure given a second shot, closing with rounds of 66 and 65, tying her career low in a bogey-free round.
"l wouldn't take last year's Sunday round back for anything, because I learned so much from that," said Thompson, whose closing 78 last season dropped her from a share of the lead to 19th. "I knew what not to do and how to prepare for it. It was a really big learning experience for me."
Thompson said she didn't check out the scores coming onto No. 18. "I looked away," she said.
Here's what she missed: Lewis secured the win with a two-putt par from the edge of the green, which she said was pretty standard for the 402-yard par 5.
"I knew it was going to be a hard two-putt no matter where I hit it," she said. "
Karine Icher of France closed with a 68 to finish third, two strokes back.
It ended up as a duel of two young Americans, though.
Thompson signaled that this one would be different from 2011 with a long chip-in for birdie on the par-3 second hole.
"That got me going a little bit, but just positive thoughts the whole day," she said.
Thompson was seeking her second straight Alabama win after becoming the youngest LPGA Tour winner in September at the Navistar LPGA Classic. She got her tour card a few weeks later.
Thompson signed autographs, while Lewis strolled toward the green and said she didn't "see any of her 18th hole. I just saw that she had a tap-in to win."
She exorcised one demon by making her second straight birdie on No. 14, where she made a double bogey a year earlier after her ball went into the water.
"I wasn't going to make that mistake again," Thompson said.
Lewis raised both arms after sinking her short clinching putt, more relieved than exuberant in the moment.
"It was just a really stressful day," she said. "I'm glad I didn't have to play in a playoff, because I was exhausted. It was just total relief."
Lewis spent her teen years in a back brace with scoliosis, then had surgery that corrected her spine with five screws and a steel rod.
She birdied Nos. 15-17 each of the past two days, when she was a combined 9 under on the back nine.
Her approach shot on No. 15 hooked left and rolled downhill into the water. She took a drop and two-putted for bogey to lose the outright lead, but got the stroke back on the next hole.
"Probably the shot of the week for me was my chip shot on 16," Lewis said. "You could probably put 10 balls there and maybe get four or five of them up and down. To hit the shot I did under the pressure was huge."
Lewis birdied the first two holes to open a five-stroke lead over five players bunched at 11 under. She had nothing but pars and one bogey on those holes through three days.
Se Ri Pak had the previous low score in the tournament's first three years at 13 under in 2010.
Five players finished just one stroke off that pace: Azahara Munoz, U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu, Karrie Webb, Sun Young Yoo and Brittany Lincicome. Ryu moved to 13 under before a triple bogey on No. 15.
Updated April 29, 2012
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