CHAMPIONS
Lexi Back in the Winners’ Circle; Langer Matches Jack May 21, 2017 By David Shefter, USGA

Lexi Thompson became a winner on the LPGA Tour for the eighth time with her performance in the Kingsmill Championship. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Nearly two months after her major disappointment in the ANA Inspiration, 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Lexi Thompson produced a record-setting performance in the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va.

In Thompson’s third event since her playoff loss to 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu in the first women’s major championship of 2017, one in which the 22-year-old was penalized four strokes for a Rules violation reported by a television viewer, Thompson played near-flawless golf on the River Course at Kingsmill Resort. Her 72-hole total of 20-under-par 264 was one stroke better than the previous tournament record, leading to a four-stroke victory over runner-up and 2015 U.S. Women’s Open champion In Gee Chun.

Thompson went wire-to-wire for her eighth LPGA Tour victory, shooting all four rounds in the 60s, including a 6-under 65 in Sunday’s final round. She has now won at least one event in each of the last five seasons. “I’ve been working so hard for this,” Thompson told Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz after securing victory. “I absolutely love coming to Kingsmill and this golf course sets up really well for my game. I just felt really confident coming into the week, knowing that I put in the work.”

Joining Thompson and Chun as USGA champions in the top 10 were 2010 and 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Danielle Kang, who finished fourth, and Ryu and 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Lydia Ko, who tied for 10th.

Impressive Company

After  winning the Regions Tradition by five strokes on Sunday at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham, Ala., 2010 U.S. Senior Open champion Bernhard Langer pulled even with the Golden Bear.

Langer, who carded an 8-under-par 64 in the final round, matched Jack Nicklaus with eight senior major titles.

“Yeah, that's pretty neat,” said the 59-year-old German after claiming the year’s first of five senior majors. “Not many people can say they match Jack Nicklaus in anything. To have won as many majors on this Tour as he has is outstanding, and a thrill for me.”

Langer, whose two major victories before joining the 50-and-over circuit came in the Masters  in1985 and 1993, could surpass Nicklaus at this week’s Senior PGA Championship or at next month’s U.S. Senior Open at Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass.

Langer, the defending champion, entered the final round two strokes behind 54-hole leader and 2009 U.S. Senior Open champion Fred Funk, but his sizzling performance left little drama. He finished at 20-under 268 to best runners-up Scott McCarron and Scott Parel. Funk, who triple-bogeyed the par-4 12th hole to fall out of contention, settled for a share of fourth at 14-under 274.

"When I made birdie and Fred made triple bogey [on No. 12], that was a big swing in my favor,” said Langer. “At that point, I jumped ahead and then I never relented.”

Hat Trick for Simson

Two-time U.S. Senior Amateur champion Paul Simson continued his domination of the North Carolina Senior Amateur. Simson, of Raleigh, N.C., claimed his third consecutive championship by going wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, stroke-play competition that concluded May 18 at Salisbury Country Club. Simson carded rounds of 64-72-71 on the 6,478-yard, par-71 layout.

"I really do not know what the secret is," said the 66-year-old Simson, who has claimed nine of the last 11 North Carolina Senior Amateurs since becoming eligible at age 55. "I do work pretty hard at getting the ball in the hole, trying to at least play smart. I played some conservative shots this week and I think it worked out for me.”

David Shefter is a senior writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.