Lewis' 65 turns up hog calls

By: Frankie Frisco
Published: Monday, June 30, 2014
Stacy Lewis, right, holds up the trophy during a ceremony on the 18th green following 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, right, holds up the trophy during a ceremony on the 18th green following 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 -- Stacy Lewis was the hunter a week ago at the U.S. Open, shooting a 4-under 66 on the final day but falling two strokes short of eventual champion Michelle Wie.

The position was similar for Lewis on Sunday at the LPGA Northwest Arkansas Championship. The world's No. 1 player and former Arkansas Razorbacks All-American went into the final round at Pinnacle Country Club four strokes behind Wie in seventh place and ultimately caught and passed her friend and fellow American.

Birdies on three of the final four holes, including a 12-foot putt on No. 18, culminated in Lewis' 11th career championship, a one-stroke victory over Lydia Ko, Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford.

Stacy Lewis - NW Arkansas Championship Awards Ceremony

Former Arkansas and current world No. 1 golfer Stacy Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Sunday in Rogers. (By Andrew Hutchinson)
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The clinching birdie putt on the par-5 18th broke an 11-under tie with Ko and Kerr and elicited a burst of emotion from Lewis, who breathed a long sigh of relief and gave an emphatic fist pump before lifting her fist high in the air with the ball tightly in her grip.

It was her first professional victory in front of a home crowd that gave a resounding roar of approval that could be heard throughout the Pinnacle grounds.

"I probably didn't have my best ball-striking day, but I found a way to get the ball in the hole,"said Lewis, 29. "To make the putts like I did those last, really the last four holes, was pretty unreal. The crowd, they were ready to go nuts, and when they did it was really cool."

Wie, who was 10 under after Saturday's second round, couldn't string anything together Sunday and fell back to 8 under after a 2-over 73. That left things up to Lewis, the 17-year-old Ko, Kerr and Stanford to fight things out. Playing two groups ahead of Lewis, Ko was in the clubhouse at 11 under after birdies on 17 and 18 capped her 6-under 65 round.

Stanford was playing in the final group with Wie and needed an eagle to force a playoff. She managed a birdie to get her to 11 under.

That left Kerr, who was playing behind Lewis and ahead of Stanford, with the only realistic chance to force a playoff. As soon as her uphill, left-to-right 25-foot birdie attempt landed 2 feet short of the hole, whispers quickly went from the 18th-hole bleachers that Lewis had clinched her third title of 2014.

"I actually didn't hit a couple good wedge shots today," said Kerr, who came into the round on a roll at 7 under after two consecutive birdies to finish Saturday's 18 that was postponed until Sunday morning after a late afternoon thunderstorm. "You've got to get the ball to the hole if you want it to go in, so I just left a couple short coming in."

Lewis jumped out to a quick start, making a birdies on 1, 5 and 6 to get to 9 under and within a stroke of Wie and Kerr. A three-putt bogey on the ninth sent her back to 8 under. Lewis, who was 6 under for the tournament, including 3 under Sunday on Pinnacle's par-3s, birdied another on the 11th to get to get back to 9 under, a stroke behind Stanford and Kerr.

She went over the top of the flag of the par-3 15th, setting up a 15-foot birdie attempt she promptly drained. After a perfect drive to the middle of the 16th fairway, Lewis was pin-high and 12 feet from the hole with her second shot. She swirled her birdie putt in to take the lead briefly with Ko who was in the middle of finishing her birdie-birdie round.

Lewis' tee shot on the loud par-3 17th landed 15 feet away from the flag, but she left her birdie attempt short, setting up the dramatic 18th-hole finish.

"I thought if I could shoot a couple under on the front, then I could make a move on the back nine because I don't know what it is on this golf course but the back nine just kind of suits me a little bit better," said Lewis, who earned $300,000 for the victory. "I kept telling myself just stay patient, stay patient. I hit a great shot into 17. It's not the easiest shot to hit with all those people there, so hitting a good shot there kind of gave me that confidence."

Julieta Granada and Meena Lee, who tied Lewis and Ko for the low round of 6-under 65, finished 8 under and in a tie for eighth. Chella Choi, who tied a tournament record with a 29 Saturday on the front nine, had a hole in one on the sixth to move into a tie with Wie and Kerr at 10 under.

Similar to the second round, Choi ran into trouble on the back nine, bogeying 10 and 11 before making birdie on the 18th to finish at 9 under to finish in a tie for sixth with Suzann Pettersen.

Arkansas junior Gaby Lopez finished in a tie for 57th after an even-par 71 left her at even for the tournament.

Sports on 06/30/2014