It wasn't as if Lexi Thompson had never faced the shot before. Had never felt the pressure of needing a birdie to tie the lead on the final hole of an LPGA event. Had never felt the eyes of thousands of fans looking on.
Playing the par-5, 500-yard 18th hole of the Bay Course at the Dolce Seaview Resort, Thompson belted a wind aided drive that traveled in the 300-yard range but skipped through the fairway and first cut of rough into the second higher cut. She faced a 190-yard shot out of that rough, but knew she had the club to get to the green if struck to perfection.
"The ball had been running up (to the green) well all week, so I figured I could hit my pitching wedge, get a little flier and bounces, and with the wind get to the green," said the LPGA star, who made her pro debut at Seaview at age 15. "Everything had to work, but I had the confidence to hit the shot."
Thompson took a mighty swing, and the ball flew high into the air, as as planned, hit well short of the green but bounced several times before settling about 20 feet from the hole.
Striding to the green she knew her 10-under-par would not win anything. She knew a two-putt birdie would be good, but an eagle would be much better as the US Women's Open winner, Jeongeun Lee6, was two holes back and at 10-under.
After surveying the putt from several angles, she carefully struck the ball and watched as it meandered across the green before dropping into the cup for an eagle. That boosted her to 12-under-par and gave her the outright lead as Lee6 was putting out on the 16h hole.
Thompson signed her scorecard and strode to the practice putting green, expecting a playoff.
Lee6 parred 16 and 17 and needed an eagle of her own to tie Thompson, but it wasn't to be. She birdied the 18th and finished runner-up.
Thompson won, and has claimed an LPGA tournament win for the seventh straight season. Her closing 67 and 54-hole total of 201 was superb given the elements.
"This is a relatively short course, but it's oh so difficult," explained Thompson. "Tantalizing greens, and with the wind (gusting to 25 miles-per-hour) there are more than enough difficulties. I knew the course would play difficult, and you saw me stumble a couple times."
Lee6 stumbled as well at times, finishing at 11-under-par 202.
CHIP SHOTS: It was Thompson's 11th LPGA Tour victory...Two-time champion Anna Nordquvist finshed at 7-under-par...Thompson had missed four cuts in six prior visits to Seaview.