Mission Hills Country Club
Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Final round notes and interviews
April 3, 2011
Stacy Lewis became the fourth player in LPGA history to record her first career LPGA win at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, outdueling Rolex Rankings No. 1 and defending champion Yani Tseng to take a three-shot victory in the LPGA’s first major of the 2011 season. Lewis, 26, fired a 3-under 69 in the final round to become a Rolex First-Time Winner. She celebrated by taking the ceremonial leap into Poppie’s Pond with her caddy, Travis Wilson, her mother, Carol, her father, Dale, and her sister Janet. Lewis joined the group of Helen Alfredsson (1993), Nancy Bowen (1995) and Morgan Pressel (2007), who all tallied their first win at the Kraft Nabisco.
Lewis entered the day sitting two shots back of Tseng and it was a tightly contested back-and-forth battle between the two of them throughout the day. Lewis and Tseng exchanged birdies on hole No. 2 and then weren’t separated by more than a shot on the front nine following Lewis’ birdie on No. 3. Lewis took over the lead at the ninth hole when she birdied the par-5 and Tseng bogeyed it. It was a lead she wouldn’t relinquish.
Lewis’ win at the Kraft Nabisco is just another chapter in her inspiring story. She overcame a battle with scoliosis that began at age 11 and caused her to wear a back brace for 18 hours a day for 7 ½ years, removing it only to play golf. And after her senior year of high school, Lewis underwent surgery to place a titanium rod and five screws in her back. Due to the surgery, Lewis red-shirted her freshman year at the University of Arkansas and began playing for the women’s golf team in the fall of 2004. In 2007, Lewis won the NCAA individual title and finished her collegiate career as one of the most decorated collegiate golfers, recording a total of 12 victories. The following year, 2008, she was a member of the U.S. team at the Curtis Cup before turning pro that June.
Lewis credits her strong faith for helping her achieve success in her career and she’s tried to help spread that message of faith to others. This past December, Lewis and her mother, Carol, joined Betsy King on a mission trip to Rwanda as part of King’s Golf Fore Africa charity. And just before teeing off in Wednesday’s pro-am at the Kraft Nabisco, Lewis had to rely on her faith once again when she learned that her grandfather, Al Lewis, had passed away at the age of 84. Stacy’s father, Dale, was introduced to golf by his father, Al, and it was that passion that he later shared with Stacy. For more on Stacy’s visit to Rwanda, visit http://www.lpga.com/content_1.aspx?pid=27723&mid=2.
The 26-year-old’s previous best finish in a major was a tie for third at the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open at Interlachen and her best finish at the Kraft Nabisco had come in 2007 when she tied for fifth as an amateur.
Major champions dot the Kraft leaderboard: The final round leaderboard at the Kraft Nabisco featured a few previous major winners. Tseng, a three-time major winner and defending Kraft Nabisco champion, finished second to Lewis at 10-under-par following her 2-over-par 74 in the final round. Morgan Pressel, the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship winner, finished in a tie for third at 4-under-par after shooting a final-round 76.
Jutanugarn wins low amateur honor: Ariya Jutanugarn, who was the only amateur to make the cut at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, shot a 1-over 73 in Sunday’s final round. A native of Thailand, Jutanugarn finished the tournament at three-over-par and tied for 25th.
Golden ticket winners: Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford and Katie Futcher punched their "Ticket to CME GroupTitleholders" at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 17-20, 2011 at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The inaugural CME Group Titleholders, a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament, is a format never previously used in professional golf.
Lewis is going to Canyon Ranch. With her victory at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship, Stacy Lewis earned an all-inclusive stay for two at a Canyon Ranch resort. In a combined effort to promote health and overall well-being among Tour players, Canyon Ranch will provide every winner of an LPGA event with one all-inclusive stay at one of Canyon Ranch's two destination resorts.
“Finish Strong for Japan”: Through three rounds of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the Members of Mission Hills have pledged a total of $7,900 for “Finish Strong for Japan.” In an effort to help all of the children affected by the recent tragedies in Japan, the Members of Mission Hills said they would donate $100 for every birdie and $500 for every eagle on holes #17 and #18 during all four rounds of the Kraft Nabisco and $1000 for any holes-in-one on the par-3 17th. All of the proceeds from this week’s fundraising effort are going to UNICEF. The “Finish Strong for Japan” program was initially launched by title sponsor RR Donnelley during the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup on March 18-20.
Nomura wins Daytona Beach: LPGA Tour rookie Haru Nomura of Tokyo, Japan won the LPGA Futures Tour’s Daytona Beach Invitational on Sunday, shooting a 1-under 71 in the final round to defeat amateur Jaye Marie Green by a stroke. Nomura carded rounds of 69-67-71 to grab her first professional win at 9-under 207, earning $14,000 for her victory. Nomura, 18, was playing in just her second LPGA Futures Tour event and she left Japan two days before the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit her home country last month in order to go to Phoenix to qualify for the inaugural RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. Nomura said her thoughts are still with everyone in Japan. “I think it’s very important to give them something to cheer about,” she said. “We constantly talk about it. They are in my thoughts and in my mind.”
Of Note… Michelle Wie shot a three-over-par 75 on Sunday to finish in sixth place at three-over-par for the tournament…The final leaderboard featured a number of active LPGA and World of Golf Halls of Fame members with Se Ri Pak, Karrie Webb and Juli Inkster all finishing in the top 15. Pak tied for 10th at 1-under-par 287, Webb was tied for 13th at even-par and Inkster tied for 15th at 1-over-par…Last week’s Kia Classic winner Sandra Gal shot a final-round 73 to finish at 1-over-par for the tournament and in a tie for 15th place…The heat was a big topic of conversation in the first two rounds of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, but cooler temperatures also brought strong winds and tougher scoring conditions for the final round. Winds gusted to 20 mph on Sunday and only three players shot in the 60s in the final round, which included winner Stacy Lewis.
I'd like to welcome Stacy Lewis, the 2011 Kraft Nabisco champion. Stacy, congratulations. Can you tell me how it feels?
STACY LEWIS: It doesn't even feel real yet. I don't know. I'm still trying to figure out if I actually won, but I played so good today and I was just proud of the way I hung in there and made some key putts, especially on 17. I don't know. I don't think it's quite sunk in yet.
Can you go over your scorecard for everyone?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. The second hole I hit 4‑iron into the green, went over the back and then two‑putted from there for birdie. The third hole, I made birdie. I drove it right in the rough and then hit a good recovery shot and made about a 30‑footer down the hill for birdie. And then 9, 9 I was about 240 to the front off the tee and so I just hit 3‑wood up just short of the green, didn't hit a good chip shot, then made about an eight‑footer or so for birdie there.
Then 12, I hit a great shot out of the rough. I was about 100 yards out, I think, to about six, seven feet and made that. Made bogey on 15, just probably hit one of the worst shots I hit all day and then I actually hit a good recovery shot out of the bunker but missed about a five‑footer.
And can you list off who all jumped in the water with you on 18?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. My dad, Dale Lewis, my mom Carol, and my younger sister Janet Lewis, and my caddie, Travis Wilson.
Q. Stacy, how was the lake?
STACY LEWIS: It was a lot colder than I thought it was going to be, but I don't know. It was awesome.
Q. You had the lead the entire back nine. But it seemed like the putt you made on 17 was the putt that kind of shut the door on her. What was that like, because she said she was surprised that you made it, as tough a putt as that was.
STACY LEWIS: I mean probably the look on my face was I was shocked it went in, too, honestly. It was a putt you had to hit on the perfect line with the perfect speed for it to go in. My bunker shot wasn't very good. There was less sand there than I thought, so I didn't hit a good shot there, but with Yani within two of me, I know she can catch up pretty quickly. I played with her in Australia, I mean I saw her shoot 63 without even trying. I knew if she could make birdie, then I needed to stay on my game.
Q. Did you know that putt went in like a foot away?
STACY LEWIS: No. I didn't know it was in until it went to the bottom.
Q. Can you speak what it's been like to go head to head with the world No. 1 for two days? And a lot of people today if they were picking would have picked Yani. What was it like out there for you and what does this do for you confidence wise?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I think going into today, I think she had ‑‑ I said it last night, but I think she had more pressure on her than I did, just being she won last year and being No. 1. So I was kind of an underdog role, and it actually relaxed me a little more and allowed me to play.
But I knew from earlier in the year, I've played a lot with Yani, and I know I can hang with her and I know I can hit the ball with her. It's just making putts. And I don't know. It's huge. I mean I know I can play with the best players in the world now.
Q. What happened with your drive on 17 that put you in the bunker to start with?
STACY LEWIS: I mean just the end of the round and I was nervous.
Q. It was just a nervous shot?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I just didn't hit a good shot.
Q. And is your mom okay?
STACY LEWIS: I'm not really sure. I haven't been able to check on her yet, but I guess she hurt her leg, so hopefully she's okay.
Q. So she hasn't jumped in too many ponds?
STACY LEWIS: No. I don't think so.
Q. Can you talk about, it seems like you were just kind of gathering yourself after the putt on 17. What were you thinking? What was going through your mind at that point?
STACY LEWIS: Well, wasn't shaking, just trying to calm down. My heart was racing, and it was more just gathering my thoughts. And you know, I still had five more shots that I needed to hit and needed to make sure I paid attention to. So I don't know. I mean I told my caddie, I said, we can do this; we can do this. He's like, I know we can. So he was great out there today for me.
Q. At the beginning of the day you were down by two. Talk about how important it was for you, after four holes it was already tied. How important was that for you for the rest of the round?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. It was huge. I knew I needed to get off to a good start, and it was key hitting the fairway on two so I could reach it and make birdie there. I could kind of tell from probably the third, fourth hole on that Yani just wasn't quite on her game today. She was just a little off, and I knew I needed to take advantage of that, and I did.
Q. Could you just talk about the conversation that you had with your family on what to do about your grandfather's funeral? And was that a tough decision? How much back and forth was there?
STACY LEWIS: There really wasn't much, actually, because everybody in the family knew that he would have wanted me to finish out this week. And so it wasn't even ‑‑ I don't think it was even a thought. If it was, my dad didn't tell me. But I don't think it was.
I think he ‑‑ I mean he lived via my golf. He loved watching it on TV. He recorded it every week so he could keep watching it over and over again. But him and my grandma they both got to see me play the whole round today and they were out there with me for sure.
Q. Great win. Great playing. But what happened? It seemed like the bunker shot that you hit on 15 came out really bad.
STACY LEWIS: Well, 15 I really short sided myself and I was in a bad spot. I actually hit a pretty good shot from there. But the one on 17, there was hardly any sand there. So the club just bounced a little bit through. But I mean what can you do?
Q. Stacy, what happened? I was surprised because I was right there when you got into that bunker on 15. What happened there? Seemed like the ball came off the club or something.
STACY LEWIS: Well, no. I was dead there. Like I literally had no shot, so I was happy just to ‑‑ I mean that's all I was trying to do was just open the face up and get it up and out as quickly as I could.
Q. Maybe from the time you finished I think fifth here as an amateur and certainly the '08 Open people have been wondering when you would get that first win. Could you have imagined the first win would be a major championship or was it just going to come whenever it came?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, a lot of people have always ‑‑ like other players have told me, they're like, you'll win when it's your time and you'll win when it's the right time. I had a good feeling coming into the week because I love this golf course and I've played well here before. I don't know. I had a good feeling about the week, and even when my grandfather died, I was like, there's a reason that happened this week and there's a reason my parents were here. It all worked out the way it should, I think.
Q. What did it feel like walking up 18? So many champions have talked about what that walk is like. What was it like?
STACY LEWIS: It was unbelievable. I was still kind of upset about the shot that I hit into 18. But my caddie was like ‑‑ I kind of had my head down. He's like, not many people get this walk. You better smile. So he definitely helped me relax a little bit. And that was probably the best walk I've ever had.
Q. And when Yani kissed and picked up the trophy at No. 1, did you feel like ‑‑
STACY LEWIS: I didn't even see her do that.
Q. What's your grandfather's name?
STACY LEWIS: Al Lewis.
Q. Was he a golfer?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. He played golf and he's the one who got my dad started playing and then my dad got me started playing.
Q. Did you play with him much when you were growing up?
STACY LEWIS: I did when I was little, but not since I've really played on Tour or anything.
Q. So was he good?
STACY LEWIS: I think he was a pretty good player, yeah. I was pretty little at the time.
Q. When you tied on ninth, did that rejuvenate you, give you a different game plan that you could win it from there on if you'd played even or better than Yani to play a solid back nine?
STACY LEWIS: I really didn't feel like I had like a good chance of winning honestly until 17. Even after I mean nine, we had two shots going in there and I took the lead. But I knew, just the way she plays, I know she can make birdies. She makes a lot of them. So I wasn't comfortable all day. I felt like I was going to throw up all day, and even walking up 18 I wasn't really that comfortable, but I definitely had a better sense by 17 that I had a chance to win it.
Q. Stacy, you really seem calm, because I was with you the last hole. Did you really say, okay, now this is my moment and I'm doing it or was it something else that really got you that inner calm? You just hit those shots and they were great.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I wasn't calm. I might have looked calm, but I wasn't. My heart was racing. I was just trying to relax for every shot, and my caddie was great about ‑‑ I mean he was talking about the numbers, talking about the shot, and he was talking so much about what I was actually doing that I couldn't even think about anything else until ‑‑ I think that was the key that kept me calm at least over the shots.
Q. You finished at the top of a very American‑heavy leaderboard. What kind of feeling does that give you about where American golf is right now?
STACY LEWIS: I think ‑‑ I mean I was looking at that right now. There were five Americans up there, and I think it's huge for us. I think I know when I see other American players playing well, it makes me want to play better, too. I'm looking forward to the rest of the year and Solheim Cup and all that.
Q. Yeah. Just a question leading onto that, what are your objectives for the rest of the year now? Have they changed?
STACY LEWIS: I have no idea. I mean the goal this year was to put myself in contention to win and make the Solheim Cup team. So I think I've made both of those pretty solid now, so I'll have to reevaluate next week.
Q. I was talking to Karrie a little bit about your game, and she said she felt like putting was the thing that needed to improve to put you over the edge how now you've spent a lot of time working on some new methods. Can you talk a little bit about your putting?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. It was last September I came back, I was back home after the Canadian Open, and I had missed three greens in 36 holes and missed the cut. So I knew I needed to do something else. And my college coach, Shauna Estes‑Taylor, she kind of told me about this aim point which is a greens reading method, and she's like, let me just show you a little bit and just kind of get a general understanding, so I learned the basics and I finished Top 10 at Arkansas. And I was kind of like maybe there's something to it.
Then I went and worked with Mark Sweeney, and I worked with him over the winter and things like that, but it's more ‑‑ I understand how greens work and what the putts are going to do. It just made me more confident over the putts in general.
Q. We're sorry about your grandfather. Are you going to celebrate today?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. The funeral is in the next couple of days, which that'll be hard and everything, but I'm excited, actually, to go home and see the rest of my family because then we can celebrate together and celebrate with them. So it'll be sad, but it'll also be a celebration, too.
Q. Now when you and Brittany go to dinner, can you compare notes about your pond jumping and celebration?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I don't even know what I did. After I made that putt it was all blurred, so I hope I didn't look too much like an idiot.
Q. And what did it feel like to have all the players out there pouring champagne all over you? Did you even know who was out there?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. It was a lot of my friends, and we had talked before, because like some of your friends you just wouldn't pour beer on; they just wouldn't like that. I said, if I win, you can pour all the beer you want on me, and I got a lot of it. I don't know. You have to have friends out here to succeed and get through the hard times, and I'm just happy that they were out there to enjoy the experience with me.
THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome Yani Tseng. Yani, thanks for coming in. Can you tell me a little bit about your day?
YANI TSENG: It was a tough day out there. It was very windy today and the green was pretty firm and it was very hard to adjust my distance and the speed of my putting. Stacy really played awesome out there. She handled the pressure really well and she played great.
I did my best. I tried my best today, and I didn't give her any shots today. So I hung in there until the last putt and smiled the whole way, whole day. So it was good and it was very good experience for me this time. Golf is golf, so this is normal. I just didn't play well. And hopefully next tournament will be good, and I just really want to congratulate Stacy. She did really awesome today.
Q. Yani, you played so well yesterday, six birdies, no bogeys, tough golf course.
YANI TSENG: Yeah.
Q. Was it the conditions, the wind today or was your game somehow not as good as yesterday?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. My game was not as good as yesterday. I probably was a bit thinking too much. Just needed to commit to the shot better and trust myself more, and it was just a tough day out there, you know, being leading. But I tried to not think too much, but with the wind just swirling and the green was firm. So just trying to be perfect all the time. Maybe trying too hard, too.
Q. Not trying to think about it too much, obviously looking back to the ninth hole, you made a bogey and she made a birdie and took the lead. Were you aware of where you were at that moment?
YANI TSENG: No, not really. Still nine more to go. Like golf is you don't know until the last putt drop in. So I still have nine more to go, but I didn't think that much, and I still feel I still could get it back.
Q. The back nine, there were a couple of chances where maybe you had chances to make birdie. I think 11 might have been one of those places.
YANI TSENG: Yeah.
Q. Were those just, I mean seemed like the speed of the greens on your chips were hurting you as much as your putts.
YANI TSENG: Yeah. I didn't chip well. I tried and then I chipped too hard, and I didn't think the greens was going to go that fast. I mean I was three birdie chances out there. But I don't get a good read. My reading was terrible out there. I just couldn't get it right. But just couldn't get it right, but I really tried my best. And I think she just holed a lot of putts out there and just give me some pressure, too. It's not easy. She played great.
Q. How did your warmup go? Did you have any indication coming off the range that, you know, it wasn't going right?
YANI TSENG: No. My warm-up was pretty good. I know strong wind. I told my caddie, this is a wind, because I love the wind. When it's windy, I play pretty well, but I mean this course is really tough. This green is not soft. It's really hard to hold the ball. I mean fairway was tight. Fairway was rolling a lot and you don't know where it's going to bounce. But I had a pretty good warm-up this morning.
Q. You're still one win from a career grand slam. You still have a long way to go, but is this a pretty big letdown for you?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. It was pretty disappointing for me, but I really tried my best out there, and like I say, she played awesome today. But U.S. Open is still three, four months away. I still feel very confident. I learned something from this week and I just want to get to the U.S. Open. I don't lose any confidence after I played today because I know I can do it. It's not far away. I just need to keep working with my coach and always be positive thinking and keep building my confidence, and until the Open, I think everything will be good. I think I still have a really good chance to win that tournament. I feel more, I have more chance to win now after this week.
Q. You played ‑‑ actually you played a lot of golf at the start of the year, Australia, Asia, now. Now you get a little break or are you going to find other tournaments to play over the next month?
YANI TSENG: No. I got three weeks off, and I'm going to Augusta tomorrow to go look at men, watch them play. I always like to go there and have fun, drink, it's so cheap. It's really nice to go there and walk around the great golf course. And then after that my mom's going to spend with me like two weeks in Orlando, so I'm just going to stay home and relax and get ready for the next tournament.
Q. Can you go through the scorecard?
YANI TSENG: I had a birdie second hole. I hit a 6‑iron, second shot then get up to the green and I putted four feet for birdie. And No. 4 I hit to the left into the rough and then second shot I pulled it; it was a terrible shot. I chip on and it was last like 20‑footer I didn't make par. And No. 8, I birdied 8‑iron, 150 yards to the pin, and I think it was like a six‑footer. And on No. 9 I hit third shot with a 58 wedge to the back and then chipped on the green, missed four‑footer for par.
No. 16 I had a bogey, three‑putt there. That was 10 yards, 30 feet, and putted for six‑footer, didn't make it. No. 17, I had a 5‑iron, hit it left front and then hit it very hard my second putt. That was terrible, too. And then passed like a 20‑footer and didn't make it. And Stacy make that like 25‑footer putt. That was a really big par. Otherwise I would feel I have a chance next hole.
Q. Maybe a little bit more about that putt? I mean was it a tough putt? I mean not so much surprised that you made it, but just ‑‑
YANI TSENG: Actually I was really surprised that she made it, because it's like tough putt, I mean the pressure there, and you need to hole that putt. You know, I was just going to try my best to make that putt. She putt very good. I mean I see the ball just right dead in the hole, so it was a great putt. It was very awesome.
Q. How has this week and your play better prepared you for the Women's Open?
YANI TSENG: I think it's really good. I learned a lot this week, and I feel I got more support this week, lots of fans out there supporting me. It's not just Asians. It's more like people that live here and start to support me. They know more my name. So I feel very happy, I mean out here this week. I've really enjoyed this tournament. Even I don't finish the way I want, I still really enjoy it. I still looking forward to coming back next year and to win the tournament again.