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Lewis beats out Thompson in Navistar LPGA Classic

Associated Press Modified: September 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm •  Published: September 23, 2012
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PRATTVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Stacy Lewis is starting to feel right at home in Alabama, savoring everything from the Bermuda grass to the comfort of the familiar low-budget hotel where the staffers greet her by name.

Lewis won the Navistar LPGA Classic on Sunday for her third LPGA Tour victory in five months and second in the state, closing with a 3-under 69 to beat defending champion Lexi Thompson by two strokes.

Lewis parred the final two holes after a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 16 gave her the final cushion, and Thompson shot a 66 on The Senator course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Capitol Hill complex.

"Lexi was within one when we got to the 16th green and that's the only time all day I actually knew what was going on," Lewis said. "Making birdie there on 16 was huge to just kind of give me that cushion."

Lewis won in Mobile in late April, edging Thompson by a stroke in that tournament. The former Arkansas star also won the Shoprite LPGA Classic in June.

The 17-year-old Thompson rebounded from a third-round 74. She won the event last year at 16 to become the youngest champion in LPGA Tour history, a mark broken last month by 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko in the Canadian Women's Open.

Lewis finished at 18 under, one shot shy of the tournament record set by Australia's Katherine Hull in 2010. Lewis reclaimed the No. 2 spot in the world rankings and earned $195,000 — but still stayed at a $75-a-night hotel in Prattville like usual.

Now, she and Yani Tseng are tied for the tour lead in victories this year when Lewis has claimed three of her four victories. She also won the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year.

Lewis, who earned 30 points, leads Jiyai Shin by 56 points in the player of the year race. Shin skipped the Navistar after winning the last two events.

Lewis is trying to become the first American player of the year since Beth Daniel in 1994.

"It's unbelievable," Lewis said. "Winning never gets easier. It might have looked easy out there but it was hard. Every shot was stressful and on this golf course with one swing you can make a double pretty easy. I had some adrenaline going at the end."

Her previous best at the Navistar was a tie for sixth last year, but she still likes competing in this state.

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