Thompson on the brink of history

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Lexi Thompson is one round away from becoming the youngest ever winner of an LPGA tournament at the Navistar LPGA Classic.

Lexi Thompson is one round away from becoming the youngest ever winner of an LPGA tournament at the Navistar LPGA Classic.

Thompson, who turned 16 back in February, showed few signs of nerves in Saturday’s third round at the Robert Trent Jones Trail’s Capitol Hill complex in Prattville, Alabama, stretching her overnight two-shot lead to a whopping five strokes after a five-under-par 67 left her at 15 under 201.

Korean Meena Lee is her closest pursuer, five shots back on 10 under after a third-round 69, while American Tiffany Joh (65), Wales’ Becky Morgan (72) and England’s Karen Stupples (68) share third place a further two shots back – and a full seven shots off Thompson’s pace.

Thompson’s goal for Sunday is a simple one – stretch her advantage and win.

“I always go into every tournament wanting to win,” she said. “I’m at 15 (under), so my goal is to take it one shot at a time and try to get it to 20.”

The record she’s looking to beat for a multiple-round tournament was set by Paula Creamer when she won the Sybase Classic in 2005 at 18 years, 9 months and 17 days. Marlene Hagge was 18 years and 14 days old when she won the single-round Sarasota Open in 1952.

“It’s incredible,” said Juli Inkster, an LPGA veteran with 31 career victories to her name. “They’re just starting younger and they’re just so much better.”

Thompson had another strong day on Saturday, including a run of four consecutive birdies starting at the sixth. Only a bogey at the par-four last showed that there may be some signs of nerves.

If Thompson does win, she will not receive automatic LPGA Tour membership because of ehr age. She would have to petition the LPGA for an exemption until she turns 18, the minimum age requirement for membership.

The LPGA already granted her petition for qualifying school, the first stage of which she won by ten shots back in July.

“It’s definitely going to change my life and my career, but you just have to take it one shot at a time,” Thompson said.

Four players, meanwhile, are in a tie for sixth, eight shots back – Americans Pat Hurst (68), Jennifer Johnson (71) and Stacy Lewis (73) and Italy’s Giulia Sergas (71). Inkster rounds out the top ten a further shot back at six under after a 69.

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