Lexi Thompson won her third LPGA tournament on Sunday, a one-shot victory over Stacy Lewis at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, while world No. 1 Inbee Park became the first South Korean golfer to earn player of the year honors.
For Thompson, who needed a birdie on the 72nd hole to edge Lewis, the victory was her second in her last four tournaments.
''To have Lorena Ochoa give me the trophy on the 18th green, it's so memorable and honorable,'' Thompson, 18, told reporters after carding a final-round 3-under 69 to get to 16-under for the week. ''She's been such a huge role model to me. Just to play in her event, it's an honor and to be here and to see her. It is a great honor to win this event and have her give me the trophy. It means a lot to me.''
Ochoa retired in 2010 after winning 27 times on the LPGA, qualifying for the tour's Hall of Fame.
Thompson, at the time a 16-year-old, was the youngest player ever to lift a tour trophy when she captured the 2011 Navistar Classic (Lydia Ko broke the age barrier last year when she won the Canadian Women’s Open at 15.). Last month's Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia triumph was Thompson's second tour W.
Park, who finished at 11-under after a 69 in the finale, was astounded that none of her countrywomen, including the iconic Se Ri Pak who inspired so many golfers from South Korea, had ever nailed down the points-based PoY award.
"It feels great to be the first one to win," Park said coming in fourth. "I said all year, there should have been at least two or three girls that already won the award, but nobody really did it. It’s just really hard to believe and I’m just very lucky I won."
Park, who won three straight major championships earlier this year, achieved the PoY feat while playing alongside her closest competitor for the award, second-ranked Suzann Pettersen. Park’s seven points knocked Pettersen, who tied for fifth, out of contention.
All three golfers are slated to play in this week's season-ending CME Group Titleholders tourney in Naples, Fla.