If there was ever any doubt, Stacy Lewis’ play over the last two months has proven her position as the top player in the women’s game.
Since May 1, Lewis has won three of the last seven LPGA events to hold off challenges from Michelle Wie, Lydia Ko, Inbee Park and other top LPGA players. This week, as the LPGA takes a break before next week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, Lewis is in Myrtle Beach, S.C., at a big family gathering, relaxing and preparing to defend July 10-13 at Royal Birkdale.
“I play to get in the heat of the battle, to have that chance to win at the end,” Lewis said on Sunday after winning the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. “That’s why I play. And I want to see where my game is at that point because that’s the ultimate test, because if you can pull it off when the tournament is on the line, you know you’re doing some good things just to pull off those shots.”
Here are some tidbits to accentuate her top position:
• Lewis ranks first in the Race to the CME Globe (3,594 points), Rolex Player of the Year, Earnings ($1,881,227), Putting (1.737 per green), Scoring (68.966), Birdies (261), Rounds in 60s (33) and Sub-par Holes (266). She is also second in Rounds Under Par (47) and third in Greens in Regulation (78 percent) and Total Rounds Played (58).
• In addition to her three wins this season (the most on the LPGA), she has four runner-up finishes. Lewis and Wie have five victories and seven other top-10s between them this season.
• If not for a final-round 74 at the Kingsmill Championship and a 12th-place finish on May 18, Lewis would have a streak of 11 consecutive top-10 finishes. With a T40 finish in March at the HSBC Women’s Champions, Lewis ended her 13-tournament top-10 streak that began in mid-2013. Karrie Webb owns the record with 16 consecutive top-10s in 1998-99.
• Lewis won her first two tournaments this season by six strokes. She went the other way last week, coming from four behind and birdieing the 18th hole to win by one.
• Lewis has earned some wiggle room in the battle for the No. 1 position in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She has 12.15 points, a good margin ahead of new No. 2 Lydia Ko (10.05). Lewis became the first reigning No. 1-ranked player to win an event this season. She won the ShopRite LPGA Classic on June 1 to move from second to first ahead of Park.
• Ten of the 16 LPGA events this season have been won by Americans, led by Lewis with three and Wie with two. Both majors have been won by Americans – Lexi Thompson at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Wie at the U.S. Women’s Open.
• Lewis has won this season in her home state of Texas (North Texas LPGA Shootout) and where she went to college, Arkansas (last week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship). Watch out July 17-20 when the Marathon Classic visits Sylvania, Ohio. Lewis was born in nearby Toledo and moved to Texas when she was age 2.
• Including her career-first victory at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship, Lewis has won 11 times in 90 official tournaments. She also has 10 wins in the last 64 LPGA official events, dating back to her 2012 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic title.
Last week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship was the halfway point of full-field events on the 2014 season. There are 33 events, but the inaugural International Crown has a limited-field, team-event format. … Karen Paolozzi, a 31-year-old former Indiana University golfer and an assistant pro at Druid Hills in Atlanta, finished T49 at last week’s PGA Professional National Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Her finish and a second-round 71 were the best ever by a female golfer. Suzy Whaley is the only other female player to make the cut, tying for 64th in 2005. … Chella Choi’s ace in the final round last week was the 18th this season on the LPGA. There have been aces at all but four LPGA events this season, including three at both the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic and Kia Classic.