Lexi Thompson celebrated in the most traditional Indy style. She sipped some milk, poured the rest over her head and, of course, sealed it with a kiss of the bricks.
The 22-year-old Florida player earned it. After dazzling fans with two days of almost error-free golf, Thompson overcame some late bobbles for a four-shot victory over Lydia Ko on Saturday in the inaugural Indy Women in Tech Championship.
Thompson closed with a four-under 68 to finish at 19-under 197 at Brickyard Crossing, the Pete and Alice Dye-designed course that weaves around and inside the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Kind of regretting it now because I feel really gross,” Thompson said, referring to the first milk bath by a female champion in Indy history. “Then I went around the track in a Corvette Stingray, which I also have one there at home. It was just an amazing experience. That made my day right there.”
Shortly after collecting the Waterford crystal trophy and the champions’ wreath on the 18th green, Thompson was driven to the track’s start-finish line where she kneeled down in front of cameras and kissed the bricks. Then, after taking a quick sip, the slightly hesitant player doused herself in almond milk.
The only items that were salvaged were the shoes she wanted for this The Evian Championship, the final major of the season next week in France, and her sunglasses that she handed to someone.
“Here goes this outfit,” Thompson said with a laugh before posing for more photos with a streak of milk running down her nose.
She didn’t notice — or mind — after a dominant weekend put her in position to jump from second to third in the world ranking.
Thompson won her ninth career LPGA Tour title and became the fourth player — and first American — with multiple wins this season. She also won the Kingsmill Championship in May in Virginia. In April in the major ANA Inspiration in the California desert, she lost a playoff to So Yeon Ryu after being penalized four strokes for a rules violation reported by a television viewer.
Ko had a chance to end a 14-month winless streak, but the 20-year-old New Zealander couldn’t keep up with Thompson over the final 10 holes.
The low scores that seemed like such a breeze the first two days mostly disappeared in the heaviest wind of the weekend. It showed.
While Thompson had six more birdies Saturday, she also had two back-nine bogeys and had to scramble to avoid more trouble.
Ko, who had only one bogey during the first two rounds, wound up with a bogey and double bogey in a closing 72.
“Lexi played great,” Ko said after her best finish since April. “She had some 3- or 4-footers for par and she made all of them, so it just shows you how much confidence she was playing with. But it was great being in this position.”
Nobody else really contended.
Candie Kung started the day a shot behind Thompson and Ko, but finished with 74 to tie for fifth at 15 under. Minjee Lee wound up third at 14 under after a 67. Iceland’s Olafia Kristindottir (68) was another stroke back.
Play suspended at European Masters
Scott Hend of Australia extended his lead to two strokes when play was suspended during the weather-affected third round at the European Masters in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.
Hend birdied the par-three 13th hole minutes before fading light forced the players off a second time. Earlier, fog shrouding the Swiss Alps course caused a 2-hour and 24-minute stoppage.
Leading overnight by one shot, Hend was at two over par for his 13 holes. Still, his 11 under total was two ahead of Matt Fitzpatrick of England, Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay, and Darren Fichardt of South Africa.
The four leading players were due back on course at 8 a.m. Sunday to finish the third round. The clubhouse leaders at eight under were Marcus Fraser of Australia, Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark and Dean Burmester of South Africa.
McCarron, Sutherland in another duel
Scott McCarron was in a familiar spot atop a PGA Tour Champions leaderboard in his first trip to Japan. California childhood rival Kevin Sutherland was close behind — again.
Coming off his third victory in the last six tournaments, the 52-year-old McCarron shot his second straight six-under 66 at Narita Golf Club in Chiba to take a one-stroke lead over Sutherland in the Japan Airlines Championship — the senior tour’s first event in Japan.
Sutherland, tied for the first-round lead with Glen Day at 65, had a 68. Also visiting Japan for the first time, Sutherland made a 30-foot putt on the par-four 18th for his third birdie on the last four holes.
The long-hitting McCarron birdied all four par 5s after birdieing three of them Friday. He saved par on 18 with a six-footer to keep the outright lead.
McCarron won the Shaw Charity Classic last week in Calgary, Alberta, to tie Bernhard Langer for the tour victory lead with four. The 53-year-old Sutherland has five straight top-10 finishes.