Shanshan Feng of China jumped out to an early lead on Thursday at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship—one of the LPGA's five major tournaments—thanks to a six-under 66.
Despite a strong showing, South Korea's Se Ri Pak came in a close second along with America's Michelle Wie at five-under 67. Not far behind was 15-year-old amateur Angel Yin, who shot a four-under 68 to tie for fourth after spending the majority of the day in second place.
Read on to follow along with the tournament's proceedings as they unfold.
Day 4 Recap
Only one young star in the women's golf game could bring home the top prize at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, and Lexi Thompson solidified the win with another strong round on Sunday afternoon.
Thanks to a 68 on the final day of the competition, Thompson clinched her first ever major win at Mission Hills Country Club, as USA Today points out:
Here's a look at the final results of the event:
|Position||Name||To Par||Round 4 Score|
|T4||Se Ri Pak||-6||74|
Following her win, Thompson took the historic leap into Poppie's Pond to celebrate, per the LPGA official Twitter account and Joe Fleming of USA Today:
The 19-year-old summed up her emotions on the course simply, per James Peltz of the Los Angeles Times, saying, "I was just trying to stay in the moment and ... not think about what I was shooting."
As for Michelle Wie, the 24-year-old once again wilted down the stretch as Thompson claimed the major that has escaped Wie throughout her career.
While Wie fell short yet again in her pursuit of a major title, Ron Sirak of Golf World notes that the loss for Wie was not from poor play, but rather greatness from Thompson:
With the win, Thompson now cements her status as a rising star in the women's golf game. Several majors remain on the season, and the 19-year-old appears to be playing her best golf in 2014—a year that could prove to be a special one for Thompson.
Day 3 Recap
Just a day after one prodigy took the outright lead on Friday, another previous phenom catapulted to the top of the leaderboard on Saturday.
Michelle Wie used a 68 in the third round to knot up the top spot with Lexi Thompson, who shot a 69 on Saturday at the major tournament. Below is the updated leaderboard following Saturday's play.
|Position||Name||To Par||Round 3 Score|
|T3||Se Ri Pak||-8||71|
Wie used her second round below 70 in the event to pull off a tie for the lead through three days. While she was tabbed as a potential star in the game when she started on the LPGA Tour, Wie hasn't quite lived up to that hype throughout her career.
In fact, Wie simply being at the top of the standings in a major event is a rarity, as John Strege of Golf Digest points out:
Michelle Wie tied for lead entering final round @KNCGolf. Last time she led a major? 2006 U.S. Women's Open. She was 16.— John Strege (@JohnStrege) April 6, 2014
Wie used another good day on Par 5s to get to the top on Saturday. The 24-year-old finished with two birdies on Par 5s and is currently seven-under through three days on such holes.
As for her counterpart on Sunday's final round, Thompson was just a touch behind Wie on the day. But after doing enough to keep the lead with a three-under 69, Thompson will duel it out with Wie on the final day at Mission Hills Country Club for her first major win.
Following her round on Saturday, Wie spoke about her pairing partner during the fourth round, per the Kraft Nabisco Championship's official Twitter account:
While both Wie and Thompson shot well to sit at 10-under heading into the final day, Charley Hull had the low round of the day with a 66. The English golfer compiled three birdies on both the front and back nine, including three birdies on Par 4s.
A 19-year-old in Thompson may have stolen the show through the last two days, but Hull has a chance to make history on Sunday just two shots behind both Wie and Thompson, as Beth Ann Nichols of Golfweek notes:
Charley Hull victory would make her the youngest to win a major. 2007 Kraft champ Morgan Pressel holds record at 18 years, 10 months, 9 days— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) April 6, 2014
With a major tournament on the line, the potential for any of the ladies at the top to claim a title is still alive. The intrigue is at an all-time high after the pivotal third round on Saturday, and the action can only get hotter on the final day of the tournament.
Day 2 Recap
Lexi Thompson, the 19-year-old prodigy from Florida, shot her way up the leaderboard on Friday with an impressive tournament-best 64. She holds a tie for the lead at seven-under par with Se Ri Pak entering the weekend.
Here's an updated look at the top 10 after Friday's action:
|Position||Name||To Par||Round 2 Score|
|T1||Se Ri Pak||-7||70|
Thompson played a flawless round of golf during the second round of the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship, recording eight birdies without a single blemish on her scorecard.
This was a great and dramatic turnaround for the youngster after she concluded Thursday's opening round with a one-over 73.
During an interview with James Peltz of the Los Angeles Times, Thompson explained her mental focus throughout Friday's round. She said, "I was just trying to stay in the moment and not think about what I was shooting."
Well, her strategy worked, as she'll find herself in Saturday's final pairing.
Paired with Thompson on Saturday will be veteran Se Ri Pak. She followed up an impressive 67 on Thursday with a two-under 70 on Friday.
Watch out for Michelle Wie. Like Pak, she began the tournament hot, shooting a 67 in her opening round. She continued her momentum into Friday, recording a one-under 71 to earn her the tournament's third position.
Shanshan Feng fell from grace a bit on Friday. After starting the tournament with a low round of 66 on Thursday, she followed it up with a one-over 73 on Friday. She's still in good shape at just two strokes off the pace, but will have some work to do to catch the leaders over the weekend.
Day 1 Recap
In hot pursuit of her first victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the 24-year-old Feng came out firing on all cylinders to claim the top spot after Day 1.
Here's a look at how the top 10 shaped up:
|Position||Name||To Par||Round 1 Score|
|T2||Se Ri Pak||-5||67|
|T9||So Yeon Ryu||-2||70|
Feng was simply unstoppable all day, shooting six birdies with just one hiccup via a bogey on the 15th hole. Perhaps the fact she was paired with LPGA Hall of Famer Amy Alcott had something to do with her success, as captured by Beth Ann Nichols of Golfweek:
So Shanshan didn't bogey No. 1 today, contrary to live scoring. Feng shot 66. She played alongside Amy Alcott and asked for her secrets!— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) April 3, 2014
The notion makes sense. Not only is Alcott a legend, she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship three times in her career. Feng says Alcott offered her encouragement on the course, as captured by John Nicholson of the Associated Press, via the Houston Chronicle:
"She was actually encouraging me," Feng said about Alcott. "Like I made a bogey on 15, and she was like, 'OK, let's make two birdies back in the last three holes.' I was like, 'Yes, ma'am.' Then I only made one. I didn't make two, but I thought that was good enough."
Perhaps more impressive than Feng's surprise showing was the day put together by the 15-year-old Yin. After she finished in 55th place a year ago, Yin overcame nervousness after missing the cut a week ago in Carlsbad and used her comfort with the course to great success:
"I think this course suits me really well just because the greens," Yin said. "I really like the greens here, so my putting really is better than any other course I play."
Close behind was Wie, who put together a jaw-dropping streak:
The round turned out to be one of the best she's shot in the tournament over the course of her career (she's 24 years old and has competed in the event since she was 13), thanks to the stretch of superb holes.
The same cannot be said for the top-ranked player in the tournament, Inbee Park. She shot a two-over 74 to tie for 46th place. There appears to be a steep climb to the top for the defending champion.
At this point, Feng's current form suggests her stay at the top may remain consistent over the course of the tournament. This goes twofold for Wie, who has the look of a player with plenty of momentum and experience in the tournament, which should go a long way toward making her a serious contender to steal the No. 1 spot.
Despite the sloppy start for Park, it would also be unwise to count out the defending champ. Past experience reigns supreme, so expect her to rise up the board in the coming days.