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Golf | Women`s Golf

Stacy Lewis © Gallo Images

Lewis back to defend Mobile LPGA title



Stacy Lewis returns to the Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove this week to defend her Mobile Bay LPGA Classic crown, a title that helped propel her to the top of women's golf.

The American's victory in the event was the first of four in 2012.

In all she's won five tournaments since then, briefly ascending to No 1 in the world rankings although South Korea's Park In-Bee has since claimed the top spot.

Park is taking the week off, giving Lewis a chance to close back in with a strong showing.

"I am really excited to be back," said Lewis, who will be vying for a fourth straight top-10 finish and her eighth of this season.

She finished tied for fifth at the Kingsmill Championship, the tour's most recent tournament.

"Going back to last year, this tournament really kind of helped springboard me into the year that I had and continue to have so it's unbelievable," Lewis said.

Lewis carded four rounds in the 60s, including a final-round 69 to hold off surging teenager Lexi Thompson by one stroke.

Thompson fired a 65 in the final round to put the pressure on.

Thompson has a fondness for the state of Alabama. Her victory at Prattville in 2011 at the age of 16 made her the youngest player to win on the LPGA tour – although that title has since been claimed by New Zealand's Lydia Ko.

The field also includes Spain's Beatriz Recari, ranked 27th in the world and seeking to extend her streak of cuts made to 43. Recari has one LPGA victory to her credit in 2013, at the Kia Classic.

Past champions Angela Stanford (2008) and Maria Hjorth (2011) are in a field that also features 29 LPGA rookies – nine of them making their LPGA debuts as members.

Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn, 18, leads the LPGA Rookie of the Year race ahead of Germany's Caroline Masson.

Moriya's 17-year-old sister Ariya Jutanugarn, a rookie on the Ladies European Tour, will make her fifth LPGA start of the season playing on a sponsor's exemption.

Ariya won her first professional title at the LET's tournament in Morocco on March, and has finished no worse than fourth in her four LPGA Tour starts this year.

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