US Teenage Golf prodigy Alexis Thompson wins the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters

Alexis Thompson winning the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters Alexis Thompson winning the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters

US Teenage Golf prodigy Alexis Thompson provided a rare glimpse into her precocious talent when she won the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters by four strokes to become the first American winner of the euro 500,000 (Dh2.4 million) event at the Emirates Golf Club on Saturday.

 

At 16 years, 10 month and seven days, Thompson also became the second youngest winner on the Ladies European Tour after Amy Yang of South Korea, who won the ANZ Masters in 2006 at 16 years, 191 days.

 

Already the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour, Thompson closed with a brilliant 67 to go 15 under for the tournament, beating her closest challenger by Lee-Anne Pace, who signed off with a 69. The South African briefly threatened the young American when she established a one-shot lead after the seventh hole, but it turned out to be an illusion.

 

Thompson brilliantly chipped into the hole on the ninth for a birdie to regain the lead and thereafter it was the all “Alexis Thompson show.” The supremely-gifted American, who at one stage led by five shots, stood on the 18th with a three-shot cushion, but she was in no mood to relent. A birdie on the closing hole sealed an emphatic win, her second since turning professional in June last year.

 

Shaikh Hasher Al Maktoum, Director General, Dubai Department of Information, presented the trophy to Thompson in the company of Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of ‘golf in DUBAi – the promoters and organizers of the season-ending Ladies European Tour event.

 

“It feels amazing. This has been just a great tournament and I am looking forward to coming back,” said the teen sensation who received the winner’s cheque for euro 75,0000. “My goal was to get it to 15-under since there were many great players behind me on the leaderboard.

 

“I just tried to focus on my game. I did think about the victory when I had a five-shot lead, but throughout the whole day I was trying to play one shot at a time and never tried to get ahead of myself,” said Thompson.

 

“That chip in (on the ninth) was really important. Once she (Lee-Anne Pace) made the birdie (on the second hole) and the eagle (on the third), I knew I have to play my game and make a lot of birdies. I just kept on going strong and strong,” said Thompson, who won the Navistar LPGA Classic in Alabama by five shots in September this year.

 

“Both wins are equal since both the tournaments have a great competition, the best from both sides and countries, so it’s just an honour to at both events,” she said with the maturity of a seasoned player.

 

South Africa’s Pace, who last year won the LET Money List, played the final hole in regulation and her final-round 69 left her alone in second.

 

“I guess I could have had things a little bit different.  I hit a bad club on I think it was number 12 over the green which cost me a shot, and I think that's where things changed around.  But I'm pretty happy I played well,” said Pace.

 

Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson had a solid bogey-free final round of 71 and ended third at 10 under, but acknowledged that just one final-hole birdie was not enough to put any pressure on the youngster.

 

“I played well; I just couldn’t get any of the putts to drop. I mean, I think I hit 16 greens and had 34 putts, so that’s not going to win you any tournaments, but it was nice to finish with a birdie on the last,” Gustafson said.

 

Fellow Swede Pernilla Lindberg had been in contention but dropped into a share of fourth place after a bogey on 17. She had a final round of 71 to end nine under alongside Becky Morgan and Stacy Lee Bregman, while Alison Walshe and Julieta Granada were two strokes further behind.

 

Georgina Simpson shot 67 and moved up into a share of ninth with Florentyna Parker and Caroline Hedwall. In the other final round tussle, Melissa Reid finished second on the Ladies European Tour’s Henderson Money List for 2011 after tying for 22nd, while Hedwall ended in third place for the season.

 

American Michelle Wie carded a final round 72 and finished in share of 12th at five under, her challenge effectively having ended with a double bogey on the ninth hole.

 

“It was pretty frustrating. I just couldn’t get putts to go in though I did play a little better on the back nine. I needed to play better on the front nine all week,” said Wie, ranked number 17th in the world, the highest for any player in the field.

 

“I woke up with bad neck which is kind of frustrating when you sleep on it wrong and can’t really move you head. At least I finished with a birdie-birdie finish, but gotta work on a lot of things for next season.

 

“I am really looking forward to the off-season. I am really excited for that and for next year. The goal is to try and win from the beginning.”