by Rick Woelfel ~
Stacy Lewis turned the 24th edition of the ShopRite LPGA Classic into a victory stroll. Lewis led wire-to-wire in the course of her four-stroke win at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club. She finished the 54 holes at 12-under par 213, four strokes clear of Katherine Hull, to win for the second time this season and the third time in her career. She won the Mobile LPGA Classic earlier this year and the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2011.
In addition to being worth $225,000 from a $1.5 million purse the win made Lewis the top American in her sport, at least according to the June 4 edition of the Rolex World Rankings. She is listed third in those rankings, behind only Yani Tseng and Na Yeon Choi. Cristie Kerr had been the top-ranked American since November 23, 2009.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said, “I’m speechless. To go from a back surgery (as a teenager) where I couldn’t even sit up by myself to now playing golf, and having fun with it, playing with the best players in the world, and being one of them? It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Lewis opened with a 65 on Friday that gave her a share of the lead along with Mika Miyazato. A second 65 on Saturday gave her a six-shot lead after 36 holes. On Sunday, Lewis played her first eight holes in four under par and had a nine-shot edge on the field. But a flubbed chip shot at the par-5 ninth led to a bogey, another bad chip at the par-3 11th resulted in a double bogey.
After another bogey at 12 reduced her lead to five shots, Lewis released some frustration by slamming her putter against her golf bag. She admitted she lost her concentration for a time. “I think I kind of took a few chip shots for granted,” she said. “I thought they were going to be easier than they were and they turned out to be pretty tough shots.” Lewis got back on track by rolling in a 35-foot birdie try at the 14th. Her lead was never less than five shots until Hull birdied the closing hole to finish alone in second place.
Lewis came into 2012 with the express goal of being the top American in the sport, but admitted she earned that distinction sooner than she expected. “I honestly thought it would take most of the year,” she said. I’ve gotten off to a good start, two wins in my last three events and have been playing some good golf. [But] for it to happen this quick is pretty surprising.”
story courtesy of Rick Woelfel/Women’s Golf Report
photo courtesy of StacyLewis.com