Lexi Thompson breaks through with win at Kraft Nabisco Championship

The gallery surrounded co-leaders Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie on the first tee anticipating an 18-hole duel to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

But the battle effectively was over after only nine holes.

The 19-year-old Thompson stormed to a five-shot lead over Wie by the turn and finished three shots ahead Sunday to win her first LPGA major tournament and fourth LPGA Tour event.

Thompson made a 10-foot birdie putt on the first hole at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage and never let up until she took the winner's traditional jump into Poppie's Pond next to the 18th green.

The Floridian made three additional birdies and avoided any bogeys en route to a four-under-par 68 for the round and a 14-under 274 for the tournament. Wie shot a one-under 71.

"It means so much to me," Thompson said. "This was one of my goals coming into the year, to win a major."

Wie, 24, had one notable chance to put pressure on Thompson on the back nine but couldn't convert it.

Wie had a six-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole that would have cut Thompson's lead to three strokes. But Wie left the putt short, a misstep that left her standing in disbelief and looking into the distance.

"I thought that putt was, like, really quick," Wie said. "What can you do?"

Wie did sink a 12-foot birdie putt on the next hole, the par-three 14th, to shave Thompson's lead to three shots, but by that point Wie was running out of holes.

Former Kraft Nabisco winner Stacy Lewis finished third at seven under after shooting a three-under 69 on Sunday.

Cristie Kerr (72) and Se Ri Pak (74) were tied for fourth at six under and first-round leader Shanshan Feng shot even par to finish at five under.

Thompson makes a powerful swing at the ball, so much so that her feet frequently lift up to their tip-toes during her follow-through.

She surged into contention Friday with an eight-under 64, then overcame some wobbly putting Saturday with a strong display of putting in the final round.

"I think putting is all about confidence and I've worked on it extremely hard," Thompson said, adding that on Sunday, "I got over the nerves after the first hole."

Thompson said she also worked at not thinking about winning until it was in hand.

"I was focusing on one shot at a time, not getting ahead of myself," she said.

For Wie, her inability to defeat Thompson was a lost opportunity to quell some of the criticism that the former teenage prodigy has never lived up to expectations.

Wie has won two LPGA tournaments, in Mexico in 2009 and Canada in 2010. She has never won an LPGA major event, although she came close to winning the Kraft Nabisco in her mid-teens.

Thompson "played amazing today," Wie said. "It was just hard to catch up to her all day. But I'm really happy for her.

"I thought I played I played OK, too. It just got to a point where I tried to force it. But I'm proud of myself for how the week went."

Inbee Park, the tournament's defending winner who won three LPGA majors overall last year, shot a three-over 75 to finish four over.

james.peltz@latimes.com

Twitter: @PeltzLATimes

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