Since 1956, every winner of the Indianapolis 500 has taken a swig of ice-cold milk in Victory Lane, one of the most venerated traditions in sports.
Today, the first female athlete joined that tradition. And to Lexi Thompson, milk has never tasted so good.
With a lights-out 19-under 197 at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, Thompson captured the inaugural Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim by four strokes over Lydia Ko and became the first LPGA player to enjoy the milk tradition of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I'm very happy that it was me,” said Thompson, who also gave the traditional kiss to the bricks that line the track’s finish line. “It was such a great week overall and it was a huge honor to be here in Indiana to be able to kiss those bricks. Definitely a memory that I'll never forget.”
Thompson spent most of Saturday’s final round in cruise control, draining six birdies to two bogeys in her 4-under 68. She carried a four-stroke lead over Ko to No. 16, where her wayward drive found the water and temporarily put a stop to Thompson’s momentum.
But even that bogey was not enough to stop the 22-year-old from South Florida. With the Red Bull logo on her hat matching the logo on the Speedway’s Corvette Stingray pace car, Thompson birdied the reachable par-4 18th to capture her ninth career LPGA victory and don the champion’s wreath bestowed upon all winners at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
And that pace car? Thompson got behind the wheel for a victory lap around the famed 2.5-mile oval, reaching a top speed of 122 mph.
“I haven't tried it at home, but now I can say I did,” said Thompson, who is projected to move to World No. 2 with the victory.
As for Ko, while Saturday may not have ended in victory, it was certainly a breakthrough week for the young New Zealander. With her runner-up finish, Ko returned her best result since finishing T2 at April’s LOTTE Championship presented by Hershey. It was also her first top-10 finish since mid-June.
“I just wasn't putting as well as I did the last few days and that makes a huge difference,” said Ko, who seems to be rounding into shape just in time for next week’s Evian Championship, the season’s final major. “When you're in the final round, final group, you kind of want those putts to drop and unfortunately that wasn't happening for me.”
Minjee Lee finished third for the final podium spot, punctuating her final round with an eagle-3 at No. 14 and finishing at 13-under 202.
LPGA rookie Olafia Kristinsdottir, the first Tour’s player from Iceland, chipped in for eagle at No. 18 to cap Saturday’s 4-under 68 and take solo fourth at 14-under 203. It is the first top-10 finish of her young LPGA career, besting her T13 showing at the 2017 Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open.
“It's really exciting,” said Kristinsdottir of her career-best finish. “I have goals and this will get me closer to those goals, so that's really good for me.”
Candie Kung, who started Saturday’s final round just one stroke off the lead, shot a 2-over 74 on Saturday and finished tied for fifth at 12-under 204, along with Haeji Kang, Lizette Salas, Brooke Henderson and Ashleigh Buhai. Moriya Jutanugarn rounded out the top 10 at 11-under 205.