~Lewis overcomes scoliosis to become first American Player of the Year since 1994~
NAPLES, FLORIDA, Nov. 16, 2012 – American Stacy Lewis triumphantly accepted the Rolex Player of the Year award at tonight’s Rolex Awards Celebration, becoming the first U.S.-born player to do so in nearly two decades. LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Beth Daniel, the last American winner in 1994, was on-hand to assist in presenting the award.
“I just think back to 10 years ago when I remember sitting in a doctor’s office and him telling me that I was going to have to have back surgery,” Lewis said. “That was the time that, I mean, I thought I would never play golf again. Now 10 years later I’m here winning Player of the Year, that’s crazy. That’s not normal, you know? People that normally win Player of the Year are pretty talented and have kind of played well all along and I’ve just kind of slowly worked my way up and I think it’s most satisfying, everything I’ve overcome.”
Lewis’ award capped off a star-studded evening at The Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples. So Yeon Ryu also accepted the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, which she clinched following the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. The Vare Trophy race for low scoring average remains too close to call and will be announced following play on Sunday at the CME Group Titleholders. Additionally, the six Rolex First-Time Winners from the 2012 season were also recognized.
The Rolex Awards Celebration will be televised on Golf Channel on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Lewis, who mathematically clinched the award at last week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational, leads the Tour heading into weekend play at the CME Group Titleholders with four victories and 16 top-10 finishes this season. In June, following victories at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and the ShopRite LPGA Classic, Lewis moved to No. 3 in the Rolex Rankings and became the top-ranked American in the world. The following week, she moved to No. 2 in the world – the position she currently holds – following a runner-up finish at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
In September, Lewis completed the “Alabama Slam,” winning the Navistar LPGA Classic to strengthen her lead in the Player of the Year race, though it was anything but a runaway. Instead it became a two-player race as the season turned to fall thanks to the consistent play of Inbee Park, who recorded 10 consecutive top-10 finishes including two victories. Lewis’ win at the Mizuno Classic in Japan three weeks ago gave her a 58 point lead in the Player of the Year race with two events remaining and her tie for fourth last week clinched the trophy.
“It’s unbelievable, especially the way I played the last few months with all the pressure,” Lewis said. “I’ve been thinking about it every day and all the time, and it’s just crazy to me just how far I’ve come over the last few years. To be the best player on this Tour, I don’t even know what to say.”
The last two American Rolex Player of the Year winners, Betsy King and Beth Daniel, were both on hand this evening to see Lewis accept the honor.
“I’m very excited for Stacy,” said King, the 1993 recipient. “I know she is playing consistently well this year and obviously winning four times, I think she is deserving of it. I know she has worked hard on her game and I think she’s a player that could be up there for a long time. The more that the Americans are out there and play well, it’s going to encourage the younger generation to do the same.”
“I could not be happier to see Stacy win this award,” said Daniel, the winner in 1994. “Stacy has the discipline to be a top player on the LPGA for a long time. She came out with such high expectations after her college career and it’s hard when you have that burden. She is really showing her potential this year.”
Stacy Lewis Clinches Rolex Player of the Year
~With her T4th finish at this week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex and Jalisco, Stacy Lewis clinches this year Rolex Player of the Year and becomes the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to win the award.
After sinking her final putt on the 18th for a final-round 4-under 68, Lewis finally came to the realization of her amazing accomplishment.
“After I finally made my last putt there on 18, I think it finally hit me. It’s just crazy to think that there have been so many great American players and I am the one after Beth in 94. I it’s just crazy to even think of. I mean it’s an honor to win the award, and I think this will spur on with the rest of the Americans to get out and keep playing well because Solheim Cup is coming up.”
Fellow American and 2011 U.S. Solheim Cup teammate Angela Stanford couldn’t hide her excitement for her close friend.
“Well, I’m really happy for her,” said Stanford. “You know, she’s a great person, and probably has a bigger heart than she is player. I mean she’s just a great girl and I’m very happy for her. So I think it’s great.”
(Story courtesy of LPGA)