World Ladies Golf No.1 Stacy Lewis (pictured by Getty Images) has been one of the main characters in the storybook script that has unfolded on the LPGA Tour in 2014. The former University of Arkansas Razorback stood in the spotlight once again on Sunday, this time in her adopted home of Northwest Arkansas.
Lewis was a standout at nearby U of A in Fayetteville, a twenty minute drive from Pinnacle Golf Club, and said her 11th career victory this week ranks high on her list of the most special wins of her career.
The six-year Tour veteran said she had a mix emotions running throughout the entire day.
Lewis started the day four shots behind the second-round leader Michelle Wie but carded seven birdies and one bogey en-route to a closing 65.
Her three-day total of 12-under par 201 was one shot clear of Lydia Ko (65), Cristie Kerr (67) and Angela Stanford (67).
Lewis had three birdies in her first six holes to get to 9-under par and within one shot of Stanford, Kerr and Wie. A three-putt bogey on the par 4 9th hole was her only blip of the day and turned her focus to a back-nine run. She said she wasn’t totally caught up with the tight race going on around her.
A birdie on the par 3 11th hole got her back to 9-under but it was the finishing four holes that tested the 29-year-old’s nerves. She said she wasn’t totally aware of the tight race for the finish going on around her and used the help of a fan heading into the final four holes.
Lewis had back-to-back birdies on Nos. 15 & 16 to take the lead over Kerr and Lydia Ko who made a back-nine surge of her own with three birdies in her final four holes.
Kerr was playing in the group behind Lewis and responded with a birdie of her own on No. 15 to get back to 11-under. Ko was in the group ahead of Lewis and walked in the clubhouse with a share of the lead after a birdie on the 18th.
Lewis hit her third shot on the final par 5 18th to seven feet and gave herself some ‘self-talk’ on the green courtesy of her college coach, Shauna Estes-Taylor.
Lewis sank the putt and gave a fist pump with her teeth clenched and lifted her putter to salute the Arkansas crowd. She headed to the clubhouse to watch the final two groups finish. Kerr left her 30-foot birdie putt on 18 short and So Yeon Ryu failed to chip in on 18 to force a playoff.
Lewis, who got her competitive golf career underway as an undergraduate at Arkansas said the victory here is a sweet reminder on how far she has come.
Lydia Ko (-11) finished one stroke behind eventually champion Stacy Lewis but even coming off 18 and heading to the clubhouse tied for the lead she knew her chances weren’t great. At that point, Lewis and Cristie Kerr had two holes to play.
Ko and Lewis have been paired together a quite a few times this year, including the first two days at this tournament. They are familiar with each other and a huge amount of respect shared between the two champions.
Leading Final Golf Scores (Par 71):-
201 Stacy Lewis (US) 70 66 65 ($300,000)
202 Lydia Ko (NZ) 69 68 65, Cristie Kerr (USA) 69 66 67, Angela Stanford (USA) 68 67 67 ($141,128 each)
Other Selected Golf Scores:-
204 Suzann Pettersen (Norway) 68 67 69
205 Michelle Wie (USA) 66 66 73
210 Catriona Matthew (Scotland) 69 73 68
211 Jodi Ewart Shadoff (England) 69 71 71
Source: LPGA Tour