2012 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove, Crossings Course
April 29, 2012
Final-round notes and interviews
Rolex Rankings No. 9 Stacy Lewis staved off a Sunday charge from 17-year-old rookie Lexi Thompson to capture her second career LPGA Tour victory at the 2012 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. Lewis shot a final-round 69 to defeat Thompson, who fired a 7-under 65 on Sunday, by one stroke on the Crossings Course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Magnolia Grove.
Lewis entered the day with a two-shot lead and looked to be pulling away early in her round. Lewis' lead grew to five strokes after the 2011 Kraft Nabisco champion recorded back-to-back birdies on her first two holes.
But the rest of the field wasn't afraid to make a move, including Thompson who matched her career-best round with her 65. Lewis' lead shrank considerably over the back nine as Thompson recorded four birdies and The Woodlands, Texas native ended a streak of 24 holes without a bogey on the par-4 15th. Lewis hit her second shot into the water to the left of the green and got up-and-down for bogey which put her in a tie for the lead with Thompson, who had just birdied the 16th hole.
Lewis was able to recover her composure and birdie the 16th hole to take a one-shot lead over Thompson. After a par on the 17th, Lewis needed to two-putt from around 30 feet on the 18th to secure her victory, which she did to capture her first victory since last year's Kraft Nabisco Championship.
"The second almost feels better than the first," Lewis said of the win. "I mean, it's only been a year since I won, but I felt like it's been a long time since then, and I've worked really hard and it's just nice to finally see some results of all the hard work."
See this one coming? Lewis' victory at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic marked her fifth top-10 finish of the year. That stretch included a runner-up finish at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open where she lost in a six-way playoff. But while the results had seemed to point toward a victory coming soon for Lewis, the major champion said herself that she wasn't exactly pleased with her game prior to this week.
"This year I've actually kind of just been frustrated with my play because I felt like I wasn't getting a lot of out of my rounds," Lewis said. "The first three days this week I finally got stuff out of my round and made putts, made some good pars and made a lot of birdies, so I felt like my game was coming around. I'm getting more comfortable in this situation, 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."
So close once again: Last year in Mobile, Lexi Thompson appeared on her way to capturing her first career victory on the LPGA Tour until a back nine collapse during Sunday's final round derailed her chances.
This Sunday on the Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove provided much different results for Thompson, who instead delivered late charge to push eventual champion Stacy Lewis right until the final hole. The 17-year-old tied her career-best round with a 7-under 65 and was tied for the lead following a birdie on 16 after having entered the final round five shots behind Lewis – although Thompson said she didn't know it at the time.
"I saw [a scoreboard] on No. 9, I believe the lead was at 17 I was at minus 12 but then I didn't look until No. 18 and I looked away," Thompson said. "I was just playing my own game and not focusing on anybody else."
Thompson was asked about the different feeling she had at the finish of this year's event compared to last year when she shot 78 on Sunday to finish in a T19 after holding a share of the third-round lead. And while this year was a much better result, Thompson said that last year's finish did help her in the long run.
"I wouldn't take last year's Sunday round back for anything because I learned so much from that," said Thompson. "Then I went and won at Navistar, so I knew what not to do and how to prepare for it, so it was a big learning experience for me I wouldn't take back that experience for anything."
On a roll…It's been a strong start to the 2012 season for 2010 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Azahara Munoz. The 24-year-old Spaniard tallied her second straight top-10 finish at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, finishing in a T4 at 12-under-par. This week's strong performance followed up Munoz's runner-up finish at the LPGA LOTTE Championship in Hawaii, which matched her career-best. Munoz fired a 4-under 68 in Sunday's final round to move from a T12 into a T4.
Red, White, and Blue! Coming into this week's Mobile LPGA Classic Stacy Lewis held an already commanding lead in the U.S. Solheim Cup points. After a victory this week, Lewis has earned a total of 212 points and extends her lead to 75 points over Angela Stanford.
Lexi Thompson, who finished second this week, earned 20 points and now has a total of 28 points. Other Americans earning points this week with their top-20 finishes are Brittany Lincicome, Natalie Gulbis, Nicole Castrale, Brittany Lang and Moira Dunn.
The 2013 Solheim Cup will take place August 13th thru 18th at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, CO. The biennial, trans-Atlantic team match-play competition features the best U.S.-born players from the LPGA and the best European members from the Ladies European Tour (LET).
The U.S. Team leads the competition, 8-4, with Europe having won the 2011 Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle, just outside Dublin Ireland.
Racking up the rookie points: So Yeon Ryu continued her quest for Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors with a tie for fourth at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. Ryu, the winner of the 2011 U.S. Women's Open as a member of the KLPGA, now has a tie for second and four ties for fourth through seven events in 2012. She entered the week with a 141-point lead in the Rookie of the Year race over Lexi Thompson, who earned 80 points for her runner-up finish at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.
Welcome to Sybase…Two spots in next month's Sybase Match Play field were up for grabs this week during the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. Lindsey Wright had already secured one heading into Sunday's final round but one was still up for grabs between rookies So Yeon Ryu and Sydnee Michaels. It was Ryu who ended up securing her spot as she shot a 4-under 68 while Michaels closed out the event with a 2-over 74.
Golden ticket winners: Lexi Thompson, Karine Icher and Karrie Webb punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 15-18, 2012 at The TwinEagles in Naples, Fla. The second annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.
Lewis is going to Canyon Ranch. With her victory at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, Stacy Lewis earned an all-inclusive stay for two at a Canyon Ranch resort. In a combined effort to promote health and overall well-being among Tour players, Canyon Ranch will provide every winner of an LPGA event with one all-inclusive stay at one of Canyon Ranch's two destination resorts.
Tweet of the Day: "Another great tournament. Really pleased w my game and attitude!!!! Getting closer and closer. Now on my way to Atlanta and home tomorrow!!" -- @AzaharaGOLF
Of Note…New mom Karine Icher, who gave birth to daughter Lola last August, recorded her best finish in nearly two years. She shot a 68 on Sunday to finish third, which was her best finish since she recorded a third place at the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational…Natalie Gulbis recorded her second top-10 finish of the 2012 season, shooting a final-round 70 to finish in a T9 at 11-under-par…Lewis' victory is the third win by an American on the LPGA Tour this year. The other American winners of the '12 season were Jessica Korda at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open and Angela Stanford at the HSBC Women's Champions.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome the 2012 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic champion, Stacy Lewis, into the interview room. Congratulations, your second career LPGA Tour victory. Is this one just as sweet as the first?
STACY LEWIS: It is. Sometime ‑‑ I don't know, second almost feels better than the first. It's been ‑‑ I mean, it's only been a year since I won, but I felt like it's been a long time since then, and I've worked really hard and it's just nice to finally see some results of all the hard work.
MODERATOR: Quite a day out there. Early, on after back‑to‑back birdies to start your day, you got off to ‑‑ it was a five‑stroke leads. Then things narrowed down toward the end. Take me through that round and kind of what your thoughts were at the beginning when you got off to such a big lead and where were you ‑‑ how tight things got at the end.
STACY LEWIS: Right. Well, the first two holes I just hit great shots in and made the putts. I wasn't ‑‑ I mean, I wasn't trying to birdie or do any of that, just hit some good shots and made a couple putts, and then from there things just kind to seem to level off. I drove it really well today, but I didn't quite have my irons spot on and so didn't have a lot of really good looks at birdie.
And then when I hit in the water on 15, I knew that was huge and I needed to get up and down there. Double was going to put me out of the tournament, so I needed to get up and down there.
And then probably the shot of the week for me is ‑‑ was my chip shot on 16. I mean, you could probably put 10 balls there and maybe get four or five of them up and down. So to hit the shot I did under the pressure was huge. And then 17 and 18, those are tough holes and I made two really good pars, so I'm so happy it's over with.
MODERATOR: Are you much of a scoreboard watcher? I was talking to Lexi and she wasn't really paying much attention, but did you see her name and the type of round that she was having?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I knew she was playing well. When we went to 13, I think I had a two‑shot lead at the time over her, two or three, and then I heard she made birdie on 14 and so I knew things were getting tight. I didn't know how close it was. And I found myself watching just because I wanted to know, and especially on this golf course because your game playing can change whether you just need to make par or whether you need to make birdie. So I liked watching it, and usually when you're kind of far back coming into the day like she was, you're just trying to make as many birdies as you can and not watch the leaderboard.
Q. Stacy, you've been playing so well this year. Did you ever feel like, well, I'm due, it's going to happen, I'm going to break through? And did you have that feeling possibly going into this weekend?
STACY LEWIS: This year I've actually kind of just been frustrated with my play because I felt like I wasn't get a lot of out of my rounds, and the first three days this week I finally got stuff out of my round and made putts, made some good pars and made a lot of birdies, so I felt like my game was coming around. I'm getting more comfortable in this situation, 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.
Q. On 15, how hard was it or easy was it to come back and say, okay, just straighten up, that's over and move on?
STACY LEWIS: It was tough. I mean, I didn't ‑‑ that was probably one of the worst shots I hit all day. I don't know. It was ‑‑ I hit it in the water, but then it was instantly I needed to get up and down. I wasn't even thinking about the shot I hit in the water. It was right way, I have to get it up and down.
And after I finished that hole, I knew I still had a one‑shot lead, and so I actually moved past it pretty quick just because there was so much ahead of me and how hard the holes are playing coming in.
Q. How long did it take after ‑‑ when you kind of raised your arms and looked more relieved, it took you a while probably to feel the joy of winning, is that true?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I was ‑‑ the last nine holes were very stressful for me. I didn't ‑‑ I definitely didn't have my best and I was running a few putts by. I had to make a bunch of little three‑ and four‑footers and it was just a really stressful day. I'm glad I didn't need a playoff or anything because I was exhausted. And just ‑‑ I'm just glad (inaudible) I mean, when that first putt got that close, I mean, it was a total relief. I don't know, it was ‑‑ I mean, it was a great week and a good way to finish it.
Q. But you didn't really make it that easy for yourself with the two‑putt, did you? Did you have to kind of put that out of your mind, how far you were?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. Well, 18's a tough hole, especially with the flag back like that. Where you're actually hitting the ball is a pretty small area. I think nobody in my group, none of us got it on that back level, so I knew I was going to have a hard two‑putt no matter where I hit it and it was pretty tough. It broke probably a good five feet down over the ridge. It was uphill and then back down, but my speed really on long putts all week, I've been really good, so I actually really wasn't too worried about it.
Q. How different was your mental approach? I mean, on the back side the previous two days you just owned that. Things just didn't seem to happen today. How difficult was that in staying with your game?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. I mean, I wasn't really thinking. I mean, for me I don't really think a lot about what I did the previous days. You just ‑‑ like yesterday, I just kind of got on a roll, shots go where you want them to go, putts seem to just go in.
Today was like I was hitting the shots and they just weren't quite coming off on the lines I was picking. They were solid, but they just weren't quite where I wanted them. So it was definitely frustrating because I had a lot of putts ‑‑ birdie putts that had a ton of break in them. On this golf course, you're not going to make that many of them. So I was definitely frustrated, but toward the end I just told myself I needed to grind it out and just keep plugging away.
Q. You came in with the lead. How important is that to your confidence coming into the final round?
STACY LEWIS: Oh, it was huge. When I won the Kraft, I came from behind there and I've never ‑‑ I think the last time I had the lead was the U.S. Open maybe? I think U.S. Open in 2008 and played horrible there, so it was huge for me just to get off to a good start and just to kind of keep things rolling. And like I said, I'm really comfortable in that situation now. I'm comfortable seeing my name on the top of the leaderboard and I feel like I belong there.
MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome Lexi Thompson into the interview room. Quite a different Sunday for you on this golf course than it was a year ago. What a great round, 7‑under par 65. Can you just take me through the day and kind of what your goals were heading into the day, if you had this kind of number in mind?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I came in today just with the same attitude as yesterday, just trying to do the same thing. But I chipped in on No. 2, so that got me going a little bit, but just positive thoughts the whole day.
MODERATOR: I know you've been feeling pretty good about your game most of the week. What was the difference today? Were putts just dropping for you?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I became more consistent with my ball striking, and then yeah, I had a few putts that I dropped. I felt so much more confident over my putts, so, you know, that's a big thing in golf.
MODERATOR: We were watching on TV. It didn't look like you were looking at the scoreboard. Did you know where you were at all at the end of that round?
LEXI THOMPSON: Actually, I saw on No. 9, I believe the lead was at 17 I was at minus 12 but then I didn't look until No. 18, I looked away. I was just playing my own game and not focusing on anybody else.
MODERATOR: So you had no idea when you were tied atop the leaderboard?
LEXI THOMPSON: No, no, I didn't. And then I left the putt short and I was like, all right, great, great. If I would have made that, I would have been tied, but that's golf.
MODERATOR: I was going to say, no matter what, you have to be pretty pleased with the way you were able to finish today and come out there and shoot what you did.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I was. I was extremely happy. I got a good group every day, so it was just a really fun week and the golf course is in amazing shape for us.
Q. On No. 14 because of (inaudible) so close, you almost holed out there. How good was that?
LEXI THOMPSON: On the par 3?
Q. On the par 3.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it was a really good feeling. That was actually one of the holes that I hit it in the water on last year, so I wasn't going to make that mistake again. So just to get that shot at that position was great.
Q. The chip‑in at 2, how much does that have an effect momentum‑wise for you the rest of the day?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it had a big effect. I was obviously just trying to get up and down for par, but chipping in was a bonus and I just tried to keep that going and go for more birdies.
Q. It looked like you kept yourself busy while she was finishing, you were signing autographs. Were you trying not to watch her or did you kind of ‑‑ at what point did you turn around and watch her finish?
LEXI THOMPSON: Watch what?
Q. Stacy finish at the end.
LEXI THOMPSON: Oh. Well, I didn't see any of her 18th hole, I just saw that she had a tap‑in obviously to win. So I went up to her and congratulated her. She played great this week. Obviously she's an amazing player.
Q. Maybe this will be the last question for a while about last year's final round, but did you feel like you put some of that to rest today, and did it ever occur to you during the day that it wouldn't happen again?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I mean, last year ‑‑ I wouldn't take last year's Sunday round back for anything because I learned so much from that. Then I went and won at Navistar, so I knew what not to do and how to prepare for it, so it was a big learning experience for me I wouldn't take back that experience for anything.
Q. Not just the success that you've had, but there's so many young players here. Can you just speak to the fact that the LPGA's really got a large group of players in their 20‑somethings and in your case, teens, that are really making a move on the Tour?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, there's a lot of young players out here. I mean, everybody out on this Tour is an amazing player and deserves to be out here, so you have to shoot really low every week and play your best.
Q. I was just thinking about your shot on 16. There was a little lean there from the fairway. How soon did you know that shot was going to be as good as it was?
LEXI THOMPSON: Actually, I didn't know ‑‑ I wasn't going at that pin, but it ended up drawing towards it. Then I heard the crowd cheer and then the camera guy told me it was 10 feet, so I was like, great, I'll take that. So the crowd cheering was definitely how I knew.
Q. Nice playing again, one of your best finishes in a while. Can you just tell me the experience of this week and how happy you were with your game?
KARINE ICHER: It was great, very happy with my game. It was nice to be in the final group today, so good sensation and good week.
Q. Any nerves? I mean having not been there I guess in a while, any difference that you kind of noticed when you teed off today?
KARINE ICHER: Yeah, a little bit, a little bit, but it's like ‑‑ like the same tension when you try to make a cut, so I'm happy with this week.
Q. And just I guess coming back after having a baby and being back, excited to be able to put together a week like this and kind of feel like your game is right back there, too?
KARINE ICHER: Oh, yeah, yeah, give me confidence for the rest of the season and we tried to find a routine now with the baby.