RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Lexi Thompson took a lot of the drama out of the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. So did Michelle Wie.
The Sunday showdown the LPGA Tour hoped for in the first major championship of the year fizzled on the front nine when the aggressive Thompson overpowered the cautious Wie.
Thompson went after it from the start at Mission Hills, smashing driver on every hole she could. Wie reined in her considerable power, hitting conservative fairway-metal stingers and only occasionally letting loose with the driver.
When it was over, the 19-year-old Thompson cannonballed into Poppie's Pond in the traditional victory leap, and Wie was left to wonder about her safety-first strategy.
"I play this course very aggressively," Thompson said. "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.
"The greens were a little firmer, so even with a wedge in your hand you had to play for quite a bit of bounce out. I figured the closer I could get, even if I was in the rough, I could get it pretty close to the hole."
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.
"This is what I've worked so hard for," Thompson said. "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 birdied the final hole for a 71. She used her driver only four times, choosing to hit fairway woods on the other 10 driving holes — leaving her as much as 60 yards behind Thompson. When both hit 3-woods, Thompson also had the advantage.
"I stuck with my game plan and I think it was the right play," Wie said. "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 finished at 14-under 274 for her fourth LPGA Tour victory. She opened with a 73, shot a tournament-best 64 on Friday and had a 69 on Saturday to tie for the lead with Wie at 10 under. The 6-foot Florida player had only one bogey — when she missed a 3-footer on the par-5 18th Saturday — in her last 55 holes.
"When I had a bad hole, I'd just fight right back," Thompson said. "Or if I hit a bad shot, just know that I can get it up-and-down or get it on the green."
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