Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia Final Round Notes and Interviews

Lexi Thompson
Photo Credit: Stanley Chou/Getty Images

Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club- East Course
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Final-Round Notes and Interviews
October 13, 2013

Rolex Rankings No. 21 Lexi Thompson ran away from a strong field in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday to win her second-career LPGA Tour victory and first as a Tour member at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.
The 18-year old American shot a final-round 69 for a four-day total of 19-under 265 to finish four shots ahead of Shanshan Feng. Feng shot a 67 to pick up her second runner-up this season, a week after she won her second LPGA title in China.

Thompson set a new scoring record for the event with a 19-under 265 total and shot all four rounds in the 60’s for the first time in her career. The four-day total also marks a career low for the Coral Springs, Fla. native. Her previous best was 271 which she shot on three separate occasions, most recently at the 2013 Marathon Classic.

“Just a bunch of happiness right now, that's for sure,” said Thompson. “Words can't even describe the feeling I have right now. It's sort of like a rerun from Navistar, just having that feeling walking up to the 18th green, embracing the fans and just knowing you have the win under your belt. It means so much, especially to get it here in Malaysia.”

Thompson becomes the third Rolex First-Time Winner this season joining Jennifer Johnson (Mobile Bay LPGA Classic) and Ilhee Lee (Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic). She picked up her first LPGA Tour win as a non-member at the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic and made 43 starts in between her two victories. Thompson was a rookie last season in 2012 and said her second win was probably harder to capture than the first.

“Yeah, probably,” said Thompson. “I mean, it took a little longer than I thought. But it's the top players in the world here, so it's not easy. Every tournament you have to shoot super low and you have to have your A game, and that's what I had this week.”

She said it was satisfying to finally see all the hard work pay off in the two years she had in between wins.

“I've worked so hard between this whole last year since Navistar, just working hard on my game, improving on my short game in particular, and just to have it pay off, it means so much to me, and it's just no stopping here, just going to continue to work hard and just going to try to win every tournament,” said Thompson. “I mean, that's the same attitude I have going into every event.”

Thompson started the day with a three-shot lead over South Korean Ilhee Lee but had the margin cut to one shot through seven holes after an early bogey on No. 2 and two birdies by Lee on the 6th and 7th holes.

“It got really close,” said Thompson. “I had a little off start. I had a few bad tee shots. But I was just trying to stay into it and be confident with all my tee shots and shots into the green. But I knew not only the group I was playing with, Suzann and Ilhee, they're both good players, but even players behind them were obviously coming up and playing well. I knew I had to just keep on birdieing and making pars.”

But the teenager used a stretch of three-consecutive birdies after the turn to push her in front of the pack and extended her lead to five shots through 12 holes.

“Yeah, those were big,” said Thompson. “No. 10, I just hit a close wedge shot and made like a four footer, but the birdie actually on 11 was really unexpected. I made about a 35 footer. But those are always huge in a tournament, getting that momentum and getting the confidence going into the next hole and always pumping yourself up to make more birdies out there.”

After back-to-back bogeys by Ilhee Lee on Nos. 13 and 14, Shanshan Feng entered the picture for the race for runner-up. Feng would birdie two of her final three holes and sank a 30-footer on 18th hole to claim solo second.

“I was in the second to last group, so to be honest I had less pressure than the other girls,” said Feng. “I started six back, I believe, and I knew, because I played with Lexi yesterday, she's in good shape. We know she's not going to do bad today, so I had to shoot a really low score to catch her, which I tried but I didn't make. I mean, after the win last week, the pressure is off, and I got my confidence back and I'm really relaxed on the course. I really enjoy playing now.”

Thompson walked to the 18th tee box knowing she had win No. 2 in the bag and tried to enjoy every moment including a warm reception from the Malaysian fans at the 18th green.

“I was feeling very good coming up to the 18th green,” said Thompson. “Like you said, there's top players here at these tournaments, limited field events, and if you win one of these tournaments, you know you beat the best in the world. It means so much to me, and this tournament is one of the best out there and one of the best run events, so it's a huge honor to get this one under my belt.”

Youthful movement: Lexi Thompson’s win in Malaysia marks the second time a teenager has won on the LPGA Tour this season. She joins Lydia Ko (CN Canadian Women’s Open) as teen victors in 2013 and her peers even say her second win will not go unnoticed. Runner-up Shanshan Feng said she thinks Thompson’s win will be more of a motivating factor for young players to try the professional ranks early on.

“I mean, of course it's going to be huge because it's going to encourage a lot of the junior players to actually turn pro, and turn pro earlier,” said Feng. “So I think it's really good if we can have a lot more good young American girls to come on the Tour, because it is the American Tour, right? We want to see more Americans.”

Thompson, who looks just as comfortable playing the role of LPGA Tour ambassador than any player on Tour, said she hopes her successes and continue to motivate young kids to dream big.

“I see it pretty big, I guess,” said Thompson. “Being 18, I'm getting a few wins out here, I'm just really following my dreams, and that's what I want to pursue to little kids watching me and just always supporting me. I'm just following my dreams and doing what I love, and that's what I want every kid that looks up to me to do.”

She said she covets the role of being a young star on Tour and looks forward to seeing more including fellow two-time LPGA winner Lydia Ko. Ko announced she will play as a professional at the LPGA’s season-ending event, CME Group Titleholders, which she qualified for with her win at the CN Canadian Women’s Open.

“I mean, it's great to have that family and fan support system behind us and to have Lydia coming up, too, being young, and she's going to be great out here, so it'll be interesting to see how we all do,” said Thompson.

Feng, who is just 24 years old, joked that Thompson’s youthful and aggressive approach to the game makes her feel aged beyond her own years.

“I think she's making us look old,” said Feng. “Going with her yesterday, watching her swing, she can swing like so hard and it doesn't hurt her body. I was like, oh, very nice to be 18.”

Just one of the pros: Lexi Thompson played in her first LPGA Tour event at the age of 12 when she qualified to play in the U.S. Women’s Open in 2007. She’s come a long way since breaking onto the scene as just a pre-teen and now calls herself a two-time LPGA winner at the age of 18. Thompson has been considered ‘the kid on Tour’ and is currently the youngest member but has earned the respect of her fellow Tour pros with her performance on the course and professionalism off of it.

Thompson was greeted by a water shower from fellow Americans Stacy Lewis, Jessica Korda and Alison Walshe on the 18th green. She said the simple notion did not go unnoticed.

“That is special to me just to have a group of friends come out and embrace me after the win on the 18th green,” said Thompson. “It means a lot. You know, it is very competitive out here, but at the end, off the golf course we're all friends, and we're still normal people, just traveling the world playing golf.

Golden Ticket Winners: Alison Walshe, Michelle Wie and Jane Park punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 21-24, 2012 in Naples, Fla. The third-annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.

Of Note…Rolex Rankings No. 1 and defending champion Inbee Park finished the week at 1-under 283 and in a T32. No. 3 Stacy Lewis closed out strong with a 2-under 69 and moved into a tie for sixth. The finish marks her seventh consecutive top-10 finish.



LEXI THOMPSON, Rolex Rankings No. 21

THE MODERATOR: It is my absolute pleasure to welcome in the 2013 Sime Darby Malaysia champion Lexi Thompson. Lexi, congratulations, but now that you've gotten a deep breath or two, let's talk about how you're feeling, what emotions are running through your body right now.
LEXI THOMPSON: Just a bunch of happiness, that's for sure. Words can't even describe the feeling I have right now. It's sort of like a rerun from Navistar, just having that feeling walking up to the 18th green, embracing the fans and just knowing you have the win under your belt. It means so much, especially to get it here in Malaysia.

THE MODERATOR: 43 starts in between this win and the last win, and you've put so much you put a lot of pressure on yourself, let alone everybody else having expectations for you. How sweet is it to get this second win and how big is it for you at this stage in your career?
LEXI THOMPSON: It's very big. I've worked so hard between this whole last year since Navistar, just working hard on my game, improving on my short game in particular, and just to have it pay off, it means so much to me, and it's just no stopping here, just going to continue to work hard and just going to try to win every tournament. I mean, that's the same attitude I have going into every event.

THE MODERATOR: Win number two, do you think it was harder getting the second one than the first? The first kind of came as a surprise and you broke all the age records and everything. Do you think this one was a little tougher to get it under your belt?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, probably. I mean, it took a little longer than I thought. But it's the top players in the world here, so it's not easy. Every tournament you have to shoot super low and you have to have your A game, and that's what I had this week. It's all the top players right here, so it's a huge honor and privilege to be here in Malaysia and get this win here at the Sime Darby.

THE MODERATOR: How special was it, you had Jess, Alison and Stacy meet you on the 18th green, douse you a little bit. Did she get you in the face?
LEXI THOMPSON: She did. She pounded me in the face with a water bottle.

THE MODERATOR: Besides that, how special is that to see them come out and support you? You've been almost like a little sister at the start but now you're their peer, competitor and friend. How special is that?
LEXI THOMPSON: That is special to me just to have a group of friends come out and embrace me after the win on the 18th green. It means a lot. You know, it is very competitive out here, but at the end, off the golf course we're all friends, and we're still normal people, just traveling the world playing golf.

THE MODERATOR: Aside from the victory, which is obviously very sweet, $300,000 winner's check. For an 18 year old, pretty special. Have you been thinking about anything to splurge on?
LEXI THOMPSON: I haven't really thought about it too much, but I have been looking at some different cars.

THE MODERATOR: What brands? What are we thinking here?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm not too sure. I saw some GTR's here in the One World Hotel's parking lot that were pretty nice looking. Not too sure yet. We'll think about it.

THE MODERATOR: Let's get into your round today. You had the early bogey on 2, so cut the lead pretty short. What was going through your mind in those first seven holes when Ilhee kind of caught up a little bit.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it got to I think a one stroke different between me and Ilhee. It got really close. I had a little off start. I had a few bad tee shots. But I was just trying to stay into it and be confident with all my tee shots and shots into the green. But I knew not only the group I was playing with, Suzann and Ilhee, they're both good players, but even players behind them were obviously coming up and playing well. I knew I had to just keep on birdieing and making pars.

THE MODERATOR: So that stretch of three straight birdies, as soon as you made the turn, how huge was that?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, those were big. No. 10, I just hit a close wedge shot and made like a four footer, but the birdie actually on 11 was really unexpected. I made about a 35 footer. But those are always huge in a tournament, getting that momentum and getting the confidence going into the next hole and always pumping yourself up to make more birdies out there.

THE MODERATOR: How happy were you going into that 18th tee with that cushion and walking up that 18th fairway knowing you had sealed the deal, and also in such a strong field?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I was feeling very good coming up to the 18th green. Like you said, there's top players here at these tournaments, limited field events, and if you win one of these tournaments, you know you beat the best in the world. It means so much to me, and this tournament is one of the best out there and one of the best run events, so it's a huge honor to get this one under my belt.

Q. When you missed the putts on 6 and 7 for your birdie putts, how did that feel? What was going through your mind, because at the same time Ilhee was catching up?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, she was. She made a few birdies in that stretch of holes that I missed a few birdie putts. You know, it was hard to grasp because I actually hit some really good putts and they just lipped out unfortunately. I just tried to stay confident and say, all right, they're going to fall in eventually, so just got to keep on putting good strokes on the putts like I have been.
But Ilhee is a great player, and I knew she would continue to make birdies and pars all day.

Q. The fans were really behind you today. Did that push you through the difficult moments?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it was a huge help, especially in the beginning when I had the little rough start with the bogey on 2. Just in between holes or in between shots they were always saying, go Lexi, and giving me high fives. It means so much to have fans behind me and rooting me on, even through the bad holes and bad times. It's always a good pump up to have people behind you and supporting you.

Q. Having a brother who plays on the PGA Tour, is that an inspiration? And your caddie, how important a role did he play today?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, my brother, yeah. My brother Nick has been a huge influence on me, both my brothers actually. I've always looked up to them. When I started at five they were already really into the game. I've always watched them and tried to be like them and especially tried to beat them, but they've always been there for me trying to help me out with my game or just my personal life at that. But I've always looked up to my oldest brother and just tried to follow in his footsteps pretty much.
Second question, my caddie Greg, yeah, I've used him probably almost two years now, maybe a little bit more, and he was a huge role in today. Not only today but every round that I tee it up, he's always a huge role. I don't do any of my numbers so he figures out that for me and he's pretty much my best friend out on the golf course. He's always there for me through the bad times and with me to celebrate at the end, too.

THE MODERATOR: I talked to Shanshan after she finished out, and I said, competing against Lexi, she played with you yesterday, how big of a win is this for the Tour and American golf, and she goes, it's huge, and now Lydia turning pro, you guys are the youth movement for women's golf. How big do you see your win in the retrospect of the movement for youth women's golf in this game?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I see it pretty big, I guess. Being 18, I'm getting a few wins out here, I'm just really following my dreams, and that's what I want to pursue to little kids watching me and just always supporting me. I'm just following my dreams and doing what I love, and that's what I want every kid that looks up to me to do.
I mean, it's great to have that family and fan support system behind us and to have Lydia coming up, too, being young, and she's going to be great out here, so it'll be interesting to see how we all do.

Q. Which hole do you feel that you felt you had pretty much won it?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, a lot of the holes out here have a lot of water, so I didn't really probably after 16, after I birdied 16 I would say I had it, because that was the last hole pretty much with water that I could be good with. But it's golf, so anything can happen. I was really just trying to my main goal coming in today was to get to 20 under, so that was my main goal. But just taking one shot at a time, just trying to make birdies. I really didn't think about anything else than that.

Q. How far do you drive it? What's your driving distance?
LEXI THOMPSON: I carry my driver probably about 250, and then depending on how the course is playing, it rolls out.

Q. This morning practicing I saw you chipped in four in a row- how much did that help you today?
LEXI THOMPSON: It helped out a lot. I usually like to end on either a holed out putt or a chip, just to get that confidence to be like, all right, let's go. So to see a few of those chips go in definitely helped out my confidence going into today.


SHANSHAN FENG, Rolex Rankings No. 8


Q. You followed up your win with a runner up finish. That's pretty awesome. You didn't play in the final round, but you kind of surged back. Just talk about the day today.
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I was in the second to last group, so to be honest I had less pressure than the other girls. I started six back, I believe, and I knew, because I played with Lexi yesterday, she's in good shape. We know she's not going to do bad today, so I had to shoot a really low score to catch her, which I tried but I didn't make. My iron shots weren't that accurate and didn't make too many putts.
But I think 4 under is still a very good round for me.

Q. You have to be pleased just in general, and the birdie on 18, that had to be a cherry on top?
SHANSHAN FENG: I had a very good finish. It was birdie par birdie.

Q. Going into next week just continuing what you've been doing?
SHANSHAN FENG: Next week I'm off. I'm going home. I'm resting next week.

Q. And then Taiwan after?
SHANSHAN FENG: No, Japan. I'm playing four weeks in a Japan.

Q. So you're doing some JLPGA?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yes.

Q. Do you now wish you kind of continued on, keep going
SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah, I mean, after the win last week, the pressure is off, and I got my confidence back and I'm really relaxed on the courses. I really enjoy playing now.

Q. One more question about Lexi winning: How good is that for the Tour? She's been one of the faces and stars. She's going to win her first as a member. How big is that for the Tour in terms of exposure?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah, just kidding, I think she's making us look old. Going with her yesterday, watching her swing, she can swing like so hard and it doesn't hurt her body. I was like, oh, very nice to be 18. I mean, of course it's going to be huge because it's going to encourage a lot of the junior players to actually turn pro, and turn pro earlier because I think a lot of them have been going to colleges and then coming out, especially for Americans I would say that, because for Asians we mainly turn pro when we get to 17 or 18.
So I think it's really good if we can have a lot more good young American girls to come on the Tour, because it is the American Tour, right? We want to see more Americans.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia

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