Big victory in bag, Lewis eyes British

By: Frankie Frisco
Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Stacy Lewis drives on No. 15 during the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers on Sunday, June 29, 2014.
Photo by Ben Goff
Stacy Lewis drives on No. 15 during the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers on Sunday, June 29, 2014.

ROGERS -- The week off between the LPGA Northwest Arkansas Championship and the British Open is coming at the perfect time for world No. 1 Stacy Lewis.

She gets the enjoy her 11th Tour title, plus she gets in a little practice to defend her second major championship.

Lewis, 29, won the Northwest Arkansas Championship by a stroke on Sunday then left to join family and friends in Myrtle Beach, S.C. After a little celebrating with them, she isn't resting on any accomplishments, choosing to do some work before traveling to Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, Lancashire, to defend the British Open championship she won a year ago at St. Andrews.

"I'm definitely going to take a few days off and kind of let the body relax a little bit, let the mind relax more than anything," Lewis said after her victory Sunday at Pinnacle Country Club, the first of her Tour titles she has won in Rogers. "There are things I want to work on going into the British. That's just me, I don't know what it is, but I have a few things I want to work on going into the British and I'll do that later this week.

"But it will be good to just get some family time and be able to unwind a little bit. This week has definitely been a little hectic and sometimes you just want to crawl in a hole and hide, so I'm excited to be able to do that a little bit [this coming] week."

Lewis' victory Sunday was her third of the season. She rallied from four shots down against Michelle Wie who beat her by two strokes a week earlier for the U.S. Open championship at Pinehurst, N.C., by making three birdies over the final four holes, including one on the 18th to put her at 12 under. New Zealand's Lydia Ko and Americans Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford finished at 11 under, while Wie struggled to finish tied for eighth. Kerr, who matched Chella Choi's front-nine 29 from Saturday with her own on Sunday, could have forced a playoff but her birdie attempt on 18 fell a few feet short.

So Yeon Ryu's wayward chip for eagle to tie a few minutes later left the hometown favorite with the title, eliciting Hog Calls from throughout the Pinnacle grounds.

"This place just means so much to me," Lewis said. "I say it all the time, I felt like if I go anywhere else to school, I don't think I end up where I am. And I'm pretty fortunate I got around a lot of good people here and that's why I support this tournament and this area so much, just because I feel like I wouldn't be where I am without them. So to win here, it's just crazy how far I've come. It's just really, really special to win here."

Lewis said she wasn't scoreboard watching coming down the stretch. Instead, she said she was trying to stay focused and maintain her plan with caddie Travis Wilson until a voice from the gallery stood out.

"Actually I didn't really know much. I knew when I made the turn obviously I was a few behind," she said. "Then coming down to 15 a fan actually yelled like, 'You're one behind,' or something like that. So I got an assist there. But then I came off of 17, I saw that Lydia made birdie on 18, so I was glad that I had one more hole to play. I knew if I could birdie 18 and get in the clubhouse that that would be a pretty good number."

Four shots later and Lewis had her 12 under.

Ko, 17, moved past former World No. 1 Inbee Park to No. 2 in the Rolex World Rankings. Park slipped to No. 3 after finishing tied for 15th.

Ko said this tournament is quickly becoming one of her favorites after her second-place finish this year to go with a fourth place as an amateur in 2013.

"It shows how much the people of Arkansas love this sport, especially having Stacy in my group ... it definitely brought the crowd to our group," said Ko, who played with Lewis during the first two rounds. "Yeah, I think the support is pretty cool and I kind of learned their motto like Woo Pig Sooie now. Now I'm into it."

Sports on 07/01/2014