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Rolex Rankings No. 7 Stacy Lewis captured her second victory in her last three starts at the 2012 ShopRite LPGA Classic. Lewis, who led by six entering Sundayâ€™s final round, built a big lead early in her round, carding four birdies on the front nine. But she lost some focus after the turn and carded a double bogey on the par 3 11th and followed it up with a bogey on No. 12. The field did not get closer than four shots of the American in the final round as Lewis finished 12-under. Katherine Hull of Australia finished runner-up and shot a final-round 3-under-par finishing at 8-under for the tournament.
Stacy Lewis hasnâ€™t hid the fact that one of her goals this season was to bypass Cristie Kerr and take over the spot as top American in the Rolex Rankings. And with her victory on Sunday, Lewis did just that. The 27-year-old is unofficially projected to move to No. 3 in the Rolex Rankings while Kerr is projected to drop to No. 7.
â€œI kind of saw myself moving up the rankings slowly and kind of put that as a goal just to have a short-term goal out there, and ultimately it's to get to No. 1, but you've got to kind of chip away and move yourself up there,â€ Lewis said of setting her goal to become the top-ranked American. â€œBut you know, coming into this year my goal was to lead the Solheim Cup points and be the top ranked American, so I'm on track to do that and now I just gotta finish out the year there.â€
Lewis ended what was a long reign by Kerr as the top American. She held the spot as the top U.S. player in the Rolex Rankings since Nov. 23, 2009. Having accomplished the goal of being the top American, Lewis was asked if her focus now turns to becoming the No. 1 player in the world.
â€œIt's always in the back of my head,â€ Lewis said. â€œIt's just hard when Yani is so far ahead right now. So it's going to be chipping away at it. It took her a long time to build that lead, so it's going to take a long time to get closer.
â€œSo it's always in the back of my mind, but we'll go back after this week and kind of set some more mini goals. I don't know what they're going to be, but set some more mini goals for the rest of the year because I know I've blown my goals for the year out of the water.â€
Heading into the final round with a leader who seemed out of reach, players in the field admitted they knew Sunday would be more of a fight for second place instead of pushing for a victory. Katherine Hull sat seven shots off the lead heading into the final round and didnâ€™t focus on trying to catch second-round leader Stacy Lewis.
â€œWell, catching her was going to be hard,â€ said Hull. â€œShe's playing great. So I think it was probably more a battle for second place. You just gotta be patient out here, and fortunately I put a good round on the board and really happy to finish second.â€
The runner-up finish this week is the Aussieâ€™s best finish since her victory in 2010 at the Navistar LPGA Classic Presented by Monaco RV. Hull will try to take her momentum to upstate New York next week at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, where her best finish was a T16 in 2009.
Stacy Lewisâ€™ third-career victory and second-consecutive stroke play win was particularly timely, as she can now celebrate her win in the first week of June which has been declared National Scoliosis Month. The National Scoliosis Foundation (NSF) secured the first official U.S. House of Representatives Proclamation from Pennsylvania in 2008 to designate the month in effort to help create a positive public awareness, education, and advocacy campaign. Lewis has been open about her childhood struggles with the condition and is a spokesperson for the Scoliosis Research Society.
Lexi Thompson didnâ€™t tee it up at the Sybase Match Play Championship two weeks ago so that she could attend her senior prom. But the 17-year-old didnâ€™t let the layoff keep her from building on the momentum she had after a runner-up finish at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic last month.
Thompson played efficiently all week and only missed two greens in regulation on Sunday. She fired a final-round 4-under 67 and finished in a T5.
â€œI've just been working on my consistency with my ball striking, and I've been working on my short game a lot, so it's finally playing off,â€ Thompson said. â€œHopefully I can continue that.â€
The strong finish also earned Thompson 65 points in the Rookie of the Year race and she slowly is ticking away at So Yeon Ryuâ€™s lead in the hunt. Ryu now leads with 443 points and Thompson is in second place with 287 points.
Yani Tseng had recorded top-10 finishes in each of her first eight events this season, but that run came to an end on Sunday. Tseng fired a 2-over 73 and missed her goal, dropping into a T12.
Golden ticket winners: Katherine Hull, Mika Miyazato and Hee-Won Han punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 15-18, 2012 at The TwinEagles in Naples, Fla. The second annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.
Rolex Rankings No. 13 Paula Creamer came up short at the 2012 ShopRite LPGA Classic this week, but feels great about the state of her game. Earlier this week, she mentioned how well she is translating her practice to tournament weeks. Creamer shot a 1-under-par 70 in the final round on Sunday and finished at 5-under in a T3 with three others, tying her season best in 2012. The American is looking forward to the second major championship of the season next week but says it will be more of a mental and emotional challenge than anything to do with her golf swing.
â€œI think the biggest thing is this is my first time playing Wegmans without my grandpa, Pops there,â€ said Creamer. â€œI think that's going to be the hardest thing just mentally because when I was an amateur he was there. So this will be more of a mental feat next week, I think, than really out on the golf course physically.â€
Defending champ Brittany Lincicome shot 1-over-par 72 in the final round and finished the tournament 1-over and T29
Next up on the LPGA Tour schedule is the second major of the season, the Wegmans LPGA Championship which will take place next week at Locust Hill Country Club outside Rochester, New York.
Stacy Lewis -12, Rolex Rankings No. 7
Katherine Hull -8, Rolex Rankings No. 67
Anna Nordqvist -6, Rolex Rankings No. 32
Lexi Thompson -6, Rolex Rankings No. 25
Paula Creamer -5, Rolex Rankings No. 13
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