RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Lexi Thompson went after it at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, smashing the ball with her driver on every hole she could. Michelle Wie reined in her power, hitting conservative fairway-metal stingers and only occasionally letting loose with the driver.
Thompson ended up cannonballing into Poppie’s Pond late Sunday afternoon in the traditional victory leap. Meanwhile, Wie was left to wonder about her strategy.
“I play this course very aggressively,” the 19-year-old Thompson said after winning her first major. “I didn’t want to change the way I played the last few days because my driver won’t get me in any trouble on a lot of the holes. So, laying back wouldn’t really make sense.”
Thompson birdied four of the first nine holes to open a five-stroke lead and parred the final nine for a 4-under 68 and a three-stroke victory over Wie (71).
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Thompson, who earned $300,000, had a 14-under 274 total at Mission Hills.
“This is what I’ve worked so hard for,” said Thompson, who has four LPGA Tour victories. “This was one of my goals coming into the year, to win a major. I’ve always seen myself winning a Kraft Nabisco. It’s such a huge honor, with all the history behind the tournament.”
Wie, 24, used her driver four times, choosing to hit fairway woods on the other 10 driving holes — leaving her as much as 60 yards behind Thompson.
“I stuck with my game plan and I think it was the right play,” said Wie, who won the last of her two Tour titles in 2010. “Who knows? In hindsight, you would do something here or do something there, make a putt there.
“That’s the way golf is. I just couldn’t get anything going today.”
Thompson became the second-youngest women’s major winner at 19 years, 1 month, 27 days. Morgan Pressel set the record in 2007 at Mission Hills at 18 years, 10 months, 9 days.
Jimin Kang (75), a graduate of King’s High School in Shoreline, tied for 46th at 6 over.
Jones wins playoff
HUMBLE, Texas – Matt Jones earned his first trip to the Masters with a remarkable 42-yard chip-in on the first playoff hole, outdueling Matt Kuchar on his way to winning the Shell Houston Open.
The victory is the first from 156 starts on the PGA Tour for the 33-year-old Australian, who made a 46-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to reach the playoff. He ended it one hole later and will compete in the Masters, which starts Thursday at Augusta National in Georgia.
Kuchar, who bogeyed the final hole of regulation, couldn’t sink his bunker shot in the playoff.
Jones closed with a 6-under 66 to match Kuchar (72) at 15-under 273 for 72 holes. Jones earned $1.152 million.
Michael Putnam (71), who is from University Place, tied for 24th at 4 under. Kyle Stanley (72) of Gig Harbor tied for 54th place at 1 over.