At the age of 11, Stacy Lewis was diagnosed with scoliosis forcing her to wear a back brace nearly 18 hours in the day and eventually undergoing surgery to insert a rod into her spine. For a while it was doubtful Lewis would even pick up a golf club but fast forward to November 11, 2012 and the girl who everybody thought would never play golf again, was named this year's Rolex Player of the Year.
"I just think back to 10 years ago when I remember sitting in a doctor's office and him telling me that I was going to have to have back surgery," Lewis said. "That was the time that, I mean, I thought I would never play golf again. Now 10 years later I'm here winning Player of the Year, that's crazy. That's not normal, you know?"
Lewis doesn't have to look far for a reminder of the long road she took to become the LPGA's 2012 Rolex Player of the Year. There are two sitting in the closet of her parents' home.
The very first and the very last plastic back braces that Lewis ever wore are sitting in that closet. While Lewis thought about burning those hard, plastic braces immediately after she finished treatment, she instead wanted to keep them as a memento of her struggles.
"I think the reason that I played golf, that was when I could get out of my brace," Lewis said. " I think I did the two sports growing up that when you got out of the brace, that's why I could get out of the brace, I swam and I played golf. That's probably why I'm playing golf today."
That and perhaps one other lucky break. This year, Lewis has won four events and notched 12 additional top-10 finishes en route to capturing Player of the Year honors. But if it wasn't for her doctor winning a golf lesson, the Texan might have never played another round of golf again.
"It's actually a funny story," said Lewis. "We were going to do the double rod and my doctor happened to win a golf lesson at some function they had at the hospital, so at a course in Houston. He went and got this lesson done and somehow my name came up in conversation. I went back to the doctor a couple months later and he was like, you didn't tell me you were such a good golfer. I was like, what are you talking about?"
"The guy he had gotten a lesson with was, it was at The Woodlands and knew who I was and told him -- the doctor didn't even know I had a scholarship to go play, just never came up in conversation," said Lewis. "He was like, we're going to do the surgery different now, and the doctor basically made the decision. He said we're going to put one rod in, you'll have more rotation. The recovery is a little bit longer but you'll be able to play golf better."
Topics: Lewis, Stacy