Counting Down LPGA Tour's 13 top stories in 2013: No. 9

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

LPGA.com counts down to the end of 2013 with the LPGA Tour's 13 top stories of the year. Join us as we look back at the year's most memorable milestones. Read about Lexi Thompson in Story No. 9.

Lexi Breaks Out of Her Shell

Lexi Thompson broke onto the world stage when she became the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history at the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic. She was tabbed the ‘next big thing’ on the LPGA Tour but the wins didn’t necessarily come flowing in for Thompson right away.

After being granted membership by LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan following her victory in Alabama, Thompson geared up for her rookie season in 2012. She would come close to winning again with two runner-up finishes at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and the Navistar LPGA Classic but was also faced with the learning curve of playing a full schedule as a Tour member.

After working tirelessly on her game, particularly on her putting, Lexi hit her stride following her first Solheim Cup appearance in August. She made 43 starts before picking up win No. 2 at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia where she put on a dominating performance in Kuala Lumpur against a top-notch field. The teen shot all four rounds in the 60s for the first time in her career (67-63-66-69) and finished four strokes ahead of Shanshan Feng. She acknowledged that earning her second win was essentially getting a monkey off her back.

“It's very big,” Thompson said after her win in Malaysia. “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.”

“It took a little longer than I thought,” Thompson added. “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.”

Just three events after her second win, Thompson battled top-ranked American Stacy Lewis down to the wire in Mexico for her third-career victory at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Thompson stayed cool under pressure, sinking a five-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to defeat the top-ranked American.  Lewis had high praise for Thompson and expects her to help carry the flag for American women’s golf.

“After playing with her a couple practice rounds and a match together (at the Solheim Cup), I said as soon as she figures out her putting, she's going to be unbelievable because she's the best -- hands down the best ball striker on Tour,” said Lewis. “And for her length, it's unbelievable how straight she hits it for her length.  I knew I was going to be in trouble on that golf course -- she carried me by 40 yards and I had no chance.”

Topics: Counting down, Thompson, Lexi

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Watch highlights from the final round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

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