Stacy Lewis has her eye on the No. 1 spot
Stacy Lewis had to pinch herself the Monday following the ShopRite LPGA Classic just to make sure she wasn’t dreaming.
Sure enough, the Rolex Ranking confirmed it: she was not only the top-ranked American on the LPGA Tour but also the third-greatest golfer in the world.
“It’s still pretty unbelievable to me” Lewis says. “I had to wake up Monday morning just making sure like it really happened, that I really was the top American. I worked hard and I know I’ve been playing well but to be the top player in the whole country is pretty unbelievable.”
It was a position the four-year veteran never thought would be tangible this early in her career. But after a sizzling start to the 2012 campaign, Lewis vaulted past 14-time winner and 15-year veteran Cristie Kerr, who had held the top position for nearly the entirety of Lewis’ career on the LPGA Tour.
“She is a great player and still is,” Lewis said of surpassing Kerr. “I never thought that I would be able to pass her just because she is such a good player. I have a lot of respect for her and the amount of time that she’s been in the top-10 in the world and top ranked American. It’s unbelievable.”
Lewis seemed matchless at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June, firing rounds of 65-65-71 to finish 12-under and four strokes ahead of the rest of the field. Focused on closing out the tournament, she wasn’t completely aware of what would happen after.
“I knew going into the final round that I had a pretty good chance at passing Cristie,” Stacy said. “But I was more surprised by the fact that I went to No. 3 in the world. I didn’t expect to jump that much. Jerry (Foltz) told me that I did and I didn’t know what to say, I still don’t know what to say. It’s hard to fathom that with all the players that we have that I am the top one. Now I have my goals set and now I can set them even higher and keep moving up.”
In 14 starts this season, the Woodlands, Texas native has notched nine top-10 finishes, with five top-5s in the last seven tournaments and another victory at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. Lewis was not discreet in anyway as she made her way up the Rolex Rankings, jumping from No. 9 to No. 6, to No. 3, to runner up in the matter of weeks. Her fierce display on the course also came with an intense drive that began after Yani Tseng won her 15th career victory at the Kia Classic.
“I got tired of being asked the question ‘where are the American players? We need someone to challenge Yani’ and I just got tired of answering those questions,” Lewis said. “So, I just told myself ‘why not me? Why not get out there and work your butt off and get in that position so you don’t have to answer those questions anymore.’”
Lewis fell back to No. 3 after Na Yeon Choi reclaimed the position with her win at the U.S. Women’s Open. But those four weeks she was the runner up allowed Lewis to set her sights even higher. But for now, she wears the top-ranked American honor with pride and is prepared to be an example for those aspiring to be in her position.
“I’ve spent the past few years asking myself ‘what are they doing that I’m not?’” Lewis says of those in the top of the Rolex Rankings. “You watch how they practice; you watch what they do in tournaments. Now it’s me in that position so I know people are watching me and what I’m doing. Now I have to keep at it and be that role model for everybody else.”
I think if I can show people that I can do this, and they’ve watched how hard I work, they’ve watched me practice, they’ve seen how I’ve played the past couple years. If they can see that, they can do that too. That’s good for our game.”
After a discussion with her coach following her win at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, Lewis shifts her focus to the importance of remaining composed, setting new goals and staying in contention to remain at the top of the leaderboard.
“We didn't really talk about much about my golf swing or anything I needed to work on,” Lewis said. “It was more ‘where do we go from here? What goals do we set?’ It was about keeping myself in contention. It's not winning tournaments or winning a number of events. It's to put myself in contention. I think if you are here in the last group four times you are probably going to get it done at least once. So I just have to keep knocking on the door and keep trying to get better every day.”