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Golf

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Associated Press
Michael Thompson reacts after winning the Honda Classic on Sunday. He shot shot a 1-under 69 for a two-shot victory, his first on the PGA Tour.
Golf

1st-time winner finishes strong

– Michael Thompson’s dream of winning his first PGA Tour event was walking up the final fairway with a big lead and very little stress.

The reality was much different Sunday in the Honda Classic.

He had a one-shot lead as he stood in the 18th fairway, some 240 yards from the flag with trouble in the way in the shape of large lake. The motto from his golf team at Alabama was to “finish strong,” and Thompson did just that.

Instead of laying up, he drilled a 5-wood into the bunker left of the green, setting up a simple sand shot and a birdie he didn’t even need. He closed with a 1-under 69, one of only five rounds under par on a punishing day at PGA National to finally become a PGA Tour winner.

“That for me kind of sealed the deal,” said Thompson, who had a four-day total of 9-under 271. “It allowed me to walk up the fairway and enjoy the experience, see the crowd and … just finish strong.”

The start wasn’t bad, either.

Thompson holed a 50-foot eagle putt on the third hole, relied on a superb short game around the toughest part of the golf course to build a four-shot lead, and hung on for a two-shot win over Geoff Ogilvy, who also shot a 69..

Thompson gets into his first World Golf Championship next week at Doral, and he qualifies for two more WGCs this year at Firestone and in Shanghai. He’s in the PGA Championship, gets to start next year in Hawaii and earned a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.

“This week was magical,” Thompson said. “Just had a groove and kept feeling it.”

It turned out to be a big week for Ogilvy, too.

The former U.S. Open champion missed his past four cuts and had plunged to No. 79 in the world ranking. He already missed the Match Play Championship and was ready to miss another WGC next week at Doral until putting together four solid rounds.

He chipped in for birdie behind the 16th green and two-putted for birdie on the 18th for a 69 to finish alone in second, moving him up to No. 47 to get into Doral.

Ogilvy has to stay in the top 50 by the end of the month to return to the Masters.

Luke Guthrie, tied with Thompson for the 54-hole lead, fell behind with a bogey on the second hole and closed with a 73 to finish third.

LPGA: In Singapore, American Stacy Lewis won the HSBC Women’s Champions for her sixth career LPGA title, overcoming two bogeys and some shaky putting on the back nine to hold off South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi.

Lewis shot a 1-under 71 in the final round to finish at 15-under 273, one stroke ahead of Choi. Paula Creamer shot a 71 to finish third at 13-under 275.

EUROPEAN: In Centurion, South Africa, Dawie Van Der Walt shot a 5-under 67 to win the Tshwane Open.

Van Der Walt finished at 21-under 267 for his first win on the tour.

Fellow South African Darren Fichardt shot 69 to finish second at 19-under 269.

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