Near-flawless Lexi Thompson wins wire-to-wire at Kingsmill

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

By HANK KURZ Jr.

AP Sports Writer

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) Lexi Thompson hopes she can finally put the ANA Inspiration rules mess behind her.

Thompson shot her third 6-under 65 on Sunday to finish off a nearly flawless wire-to-wire victory in the Kingsmill Championship with a tournament-record 20-under 264 total. She broke the record of 19 under at Kingsmill's River Course set by Annika Sorenstam in 2008.

The victory came in Thompson's third event since she lost the ANA Inspiration in a playoff after being penalized four strokes for a rules violation reported by a television viewer, and she said she hopes chatter about that situation can finally be put to rest.

"I'm so over that. It is in the past. It's unfortunate what happened, but it's time to move on and this puts a lid on it," she said.

At Rancho Mirage in early April, Thompson was given the four-shot penalty with six holes to play in the final round. She had a 15-inch putt on 17 in the third round when she stooped to mark the ball, and quickly replaced it about an inch away. The television viewer contacted the LPGA Tour the next day, and officials determined it was a clear violation. Thompson was assessed a two-shot penalty for where she replaced the ball, and because it happened the day before, she received a two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She went from a three-shot lead to one shot behind, and eventually lost to So Yeon Ryu in the playoff.

The victory Sunday, Thompson's eighth, gave her at least one in five consecutive seasons. That matches top-ranked Lydia Ko for the longest streak on tour, and Thompson said after three solid ball-striking days, she had to work a little harder in the final round.

"Today I was a little off off the tee and kind of steered it around the golf course, but I'm not complaining with a 65, that's for sure," she said. "I just felt very in control of my game and a lot more relaxed in between shots and my caddie was a big help with that."

Thompson, who skydived to the first tee for the Pro-Am on Wednesday to highlight her charitable partnership with the SEAL Legacy Foundation, wore blue camouflage for the final round to "bring awareness to them and this foundation."

In Gee Chun, playing with Thompson, shot a bogey-free 67, but was no match for the leader, finishing five shots back. Thompson also was bogey-free and finished the tournament with just two bogeys, both on the par-3 17th hole.

"I had great round today," Chun said, "... but she play was so good. Really enjoyed play with her. So I learn a lot from her today."

Thompson began the day with a three-shot lead and quickly added to it, rolling in long birdie putts on the par-4 first hole and the par-5 third. "It definitely helps to get the birdie at the start just to kick-start things," she said.

Chun used birdies on the third, par-4 fifth and par-5 seventh to get within two shots, the latter prompting a large roar from her fans.

But Thompson drew a roar of her own with a birdie putt on the par-4 ninth and then made three birdies in a four-hole span on the back nine. She eclipsed Sorenstam's record with a birdie on the par-5 15th, pushing her lead to five shots. The birdie was made possible by a 9-iron she hit about 180 yards out of a bad lie in a bunker, and she finished it off with about a 10-foot putt, all by erasing any lingering suspense.

"I wasn't planning on it to go 180 yards, 190 yards through the fairway, but I caught it very clean," she said. "I knew it was a shot that I definitely needed to pull off to be able to get my approach shot in there for birdie."

Angela Stanford closed with a 66 to finish third, and Danielle Kang was fourth after a 68.

The top-ranked Ko began the day five strokes off the lead, and shot 73 to tie for 10th at 7 under. She is winless since last July.

Updated May 21, 2017

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