MOBILE (Alabama): Stacy Lewis fired a three-under par 69 on Sunday to hold off teenager Lexi Thompson and win the US$1.25 million (RM3.75 million) Mobile Bay LPGA Classic by one stroke.
It was only the second career title for Stacy, whose only prior title in five LPGA seasons came last year at a women's golf major, the Kraft Nabisco.
Stacy enjoyed a three-stroke lead on the back nine but needed a clutch birdie at the par-five 16th and two closing pars to hold off fellow American Lexi, a 17-year-old who won her first title last year to earn an LPGA membership.
Stacy admitted it was a great relief to tap in for a par at 18 to finish 72 holes on 17-under 271.
Lexi was a stroke adrift after a final-round 65 with France's Karine Icher third on 273 after a finishing 68.
"Huge (relief). You have no idea," Stacy said. "I just had to get it to the clubhouse. I didn't quite have (my best game) but I got it done."
Stacy began the round with a two-stroke lead over compatriot Brittany Lincicome and opened with back-to-back birdies, then added another on the par-5 sixth to seize command.
But Lexi, playing just ahead of Stacy, birdied the par-three second and par-four third, and added another at the sixth.
Lexi opened the back nine with a birdie and added back-to-back birdies at the par-five 13th and par-three 14th to pull within two strokes of Lewis.
When Stacy took a bogey at the par-four 15th and Lexi birdied the par-five 16th, the two were deadlocked atop the leaderboard.
Stacy followed her bogey by making her own birdie at 16 to reclaim sole possession of the lead, then followed with two tense pars for the triumph.
"I knew when I made the bogey it was huge," Stacy said. "I knew I had to make the birdie and I had two tough holes coming in."
For Lexi, the near miss was another learning experience in a career that is just beginning.
"I hit it pretty good, was just really relaxed out there and had a lot of fun," Lexi said. AFP