Andrew Hutchinson has been a multimedia reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2014.
Walmart NW Arkansas Championship:
College coach still helping Lewis
Stacy Lewis hits her tee shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
ROGERS When Stacy Lewis finished second at last weekend’s U.S. Women’s Open, she had a familiar face there to help her out.
Shauna Estes-Taylor, the Arkansas head women’s golf coach, went to Pinehurst Country Club to help her former player.
“It’s always a fun time to be able to go back out and make things comfortable for her, and I think that was one of her goals in asking me to come out last week,” Estes-Taylor said.
While the two keep in touch on the phone, Estes-Taylor's visit with Lewis at the U.S. Open was the pair’s first time together since last year’s British Open, which Lewis won.
Lewis said that Estes-Taylor does much more than just make her comfortable and create a fun environment. She also brings a lot to the table as a coach.
“She's so great with the short game,” Lewis said. “That's what I knew I needed at Pinehurst, so I asked her to come out and during a practice round we chipped a lot. She kind of showed me a few shots.”
The advice and practice paid off, as Lewis finished the tournament at even par and missed winning her third major victory by two strokes.
This weekend, she is back in Arkansas to compete in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, a tournament Estes-Taylor said is very important to Lewis.
“I think for her, it’s almost like having two majors back-to-back,” Estes-Taylor said. “She loves this place and she really enjoys coming back home, seeing familiar faces and knowing she’s a fan favorite.”
After a 1-under 70 in the first round, the world No. 1 is five strokes behind the leader with two rounds left.
Two bogeys in her first four holes put Lewis 2-over, but she settled in and made three birdies to get back into the red.
“It’s always hard playing here,” Lewis said. “I don’t think (people) quite realize how hard it is. There’s a lot of pressure and it’s hard to not put too much pressure on yourself.”