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LPGA top 2 in world play tug-of-war
Stacy Lewis watches her drive off the 18th tee Wednesday, June 25, 2014 as she participates in the Pro-Am round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers.
ROGERS -- Inbee Park left Pinnacle Country Club a year ago holding the LPGA Wal-Mart Northwest Arkansas Championship trophy after a playoff victory over fellow South Korean So Yeon Ryu.
She followed that up a week later by winning the U.S. Open, marking the 25-year-old's third consecutive championship and safely securing her world No. 1 ranking.
LPGA Wal-Mart Northwest Arkansas Championship
WHERE Pinnacle Country Club, Rogers
PURSE $2 million. Winner receives $300,000
2013 CHAMPION Inbee Park
TELEVISION Golf Channel: 8-10 p.m. (tape delayed) Friday; 4-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
TICKETS $25 for all-week pass, $15 daily Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Children 17-and-younger admitted free with a ticketed adult. All military personnel and veterans admitted free with valid military identification.
Fight for No. 1
• Stacy Lewis became the world’s No. 1 women’s golfer for the second time in her career June 2 when she ended Inbee Park’s 59-week run at the top of the world rankings. Lewis has 12 top-1o finishes this year, including two victories, while Park has eight top-10 finishes and one victory.
2nd;Pure Silk Bahamas;DNP
1st;N. Texas Shootout;14th
NOTE DNP means did not play.
Stacy Lewis (Arkansas Razorbacks) was sitting second in the world rankings after a tie for fourth place in Rogers when she shot an even-round 71 to finish two strokes behind Park.
Things didn't get better for Lewis the next week at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., where she finished 42nd and Park beat her by 20 strokes to win her third consecutive major of 2013. But the next major championship, the Women's British Open, belonged to Lewis.
It also started a run of seven top-10 finishes for Lewis while Park managed only three.
"I feel like I've been playing so steady over the last year and a half," Lewis said Wednesday at Pinnacle Country Club. "I wouldn't say there's necessarily been one turning point or another, it's just been consistently putting myself in position to win."
Lewis, 29, is coming off her fourth runner-up finish after losing a week ago to Michelle Wie at the U.S. Open in Pinehurst, N.C. Park finished tied for 43rd at Pinehurst No. 2, 15 strokes behind Wie.
Park placed some of the blame on her putting, which she said has been a major factor in her falloff from last year's hot start when all six of her tour victories came before July.
"I felt like I put good strokes on the ball but it just didn't go in last week," Park said. "Seems like the hole didn't like it."
Lewis' victory at last year's British Open was her second major championship, and the run that started in Scotland also gave her a lift to start the 2014 season. She now has 10 career victories after adding two this year at the North Texas Shootout in early May and the ShopRite Classic earlier this month.
Lewis has 12 top-10 finishes to Park's eight going into Friday's opening round at Pinnacle. She also ended Park's 59-week run at No. 1 after the ShopRite victory and took over the top spot for the second time in her career.
"I've got to just keep putting myself in position to win because that's how you become No. 1 in the world," Lewis said. "It's by always being there, always hanging around. Like I did on Sunday, that's how you become No. 1.
"You don't become No. 1 by finishing 25th every week. You've got to just keep knocking on the door, and that's kind of what I do best."
Park has one victory this year -- she won the Manulife Financial Classic three weeks ago in Canada -- and said she thinks she is playing as well as last year from tee to green, but that her putting has cost her more in 2014.
"Around the greens and on the greens, I'm probably losing like a shot or two per round," said Park, who is No. 2 in the world. "I think that's really bringing my scoring average higher than last year. Just waiting for the putter to work again.
"Once I get a couple weeks with a good putter, then I'll get my confidence back and get my feel back. Seems like it's working for one week and then it's off again."
Lewis' first run at No. 1 lasted only four weeks before Park grabbed the top spot, and Lewis she admitted that she can't let down if she wants to stay there.
"It's almost a harder place to be because everybody's chasing you," she said. "It's nice, the No. 1 thing. It's just nice to see all your hard work paying off. It's all the time, all the energy, everything you've put into it. It's nice to see yourself accomplishing goals and get to that point.
"Now it's staying there. It's how am I going to stay there, and it's doing exactly what I did to get here. You don't change anything. You don't do anything different. You're the same person.
"Nothing really changes other than there's a No. 1 instead of a No. 2."
Sports on 06/26/2014