Navistar LPGA Classic
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Capitol Hill, The Senator
September 23, 2012
Final-round notes and interviews
Stacy Lewis started slow, but finished strong on Sunday to claim her third victory of the season at the Navistar LPGA Classic. The 27-year-old Texan carded a final-round 69 to edge defending champion Lexi Thompson by two shots and complete the “Alabama Slam” with victories this season at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and today in Prattville. The win is significant for Lewis, who now takes a 56 point lead in the Rolex Player of the Year race in her bid to become the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to claim the honor.
“Winning never gets easier,” Lewis said. “I think it might have looked easy out there but it was hard. Every shot was stressful, and I know on this golf course with one swing you can make a double pretty easy.
Lewis, who birdied four of her first five holes on Saturday, played the same stretch in even par on Sunday including a bogey at the par-3 second hole. She recovered with four birdies on the day to shoot 3-under-par 69, enough to hold off a final-round charge from Thompson, who began the day five shots back after leading the first 36 holes. The 17-year-old shot 6-under-par 66 on the final 18 holes including three consecutive birdies on holes 10, 11 and 12 that put pressure on Lewis to close out the round.
Lewis added, “I was definitely a lot more comfortable coming down the stretch knowing that I could hit the shots and knowing how to handle my nerves and knowing that I'm going to hit a drive probably 300 yards on the last hole, and just knowing how your body reacts to the pressure I think helps you a lot.”
With the win, Lewis regains the No. 2 spot on the Rolex Rankings from Na Yeon Choi and adds $195,000 to her already career-best season money total. She is currently second on the LPGA Official Money List to Inbee Park with $1,598,596.
Rolex Player of the Year Points
Rank Player Points
1 Stacy Lewis 184
2 Jiyai Shin 128
3 Yani Tseng 120
4 Inbee Park 114
5 Shanshan Feng 112
6 Ai Miyazato 110
7 Mika Miyazato 105
8 Na Yeon Choi 101
Happy (Robert Trent Jones Golf) Trails for Stacy Lewis. This season, she was a combined 35-under-par in eight rounds on the RTJ Golf Trail. I don't know if it's the Bermuda grass, and it's kind of what I grew up on in Texas,” Lewis said. “You know, it can get windy here and I'm used to that. I don't know what it is. I like playing these kind of courses where you have to hit good shots. If you don't hit good shots, you're not rewarded and I like that.”
Lexi Thompson gave it her Sunday best, but it wasn’t enough to catch Stacy Lewis. Thompson, who returned to Prattville as defending champion of the Navistar LPGA Classic, shot 66 on Sunday, but was plagued by a third-round 74 that knocked her out of contention on Saturday afternoon. The 17-year-old started her final round with a bogey, but rattled off seven birdies coming in – including three in a row on holes 10, 11 and 12 – to
“I knew I was in position pretty close to the lead, but I was just trying to make birdies and just keep playing consistent, give myself chances,” she said.
Today marks Thompson’s second runner-up finish to Stacy Lewis in Alabama this year following the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, where the pair also dueled in the final round.
Staying grounded… With more than $3.8 million sitting in her bank account, a Major championship win followed by three tournament wins this season and known as the No. 2 golfer in the world, Stacy Lewis says she won’t allow the success to get to her head.
“I'm not a person defined by my success,” Lewis said. “I just love playing golf, and if I play pretty well, it's just a bonus.”
Joined by her dad on the 18th green during the Navistar LPGA Classic awards ceremony, Lewis says there’s no greater feeling than being surrounded by family and friends who manage to help her stick to her roots.
“My friends definitely keep me grounded,” she said. “They like to bring me back to earth, but they also know ‑‑ they cheer for me and want me to do well. And my parents and my mom, my mom does a pretty good job at that, too. It's just who I am.”
In the bubble… With a tie for 14th, Dori Carter $19,801 and moved to 99th on the money list, inside the top 100 players who will be “exempt” in 2013. Wendy Ward moved from 107th to 96th with a tie for 27th.
Golden ticket winners: Mi Jung Hur, Sarah Jane Smith and Pernilla Lindberg punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Navistar LPGA Classic, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 15-18, 2012 at The TwinEagles in Naples, Fla. The second annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.
Quote of the day: Stacy Lewis – “I'm not a person defined by my success. I just love playing golf, and if I play pretty well, it's just a bonus.”
Of note… Playing in the final group, Lizette Salas shot 2-over-par 74 to tie for 16th… Azahara Munoz had the low round of the day with a 7-under-par 65 to climb from a tie for 33rd to a tie for 11th… Mi Jung Hur and Haeji Kang each recorded season-best finishes with ties for third… So Yeon Ryu and Sarah Jane Smith were the only players to card all four rounds in the 60’s…
MODERATOR: You have a six point lead over Jiyai Shin with just a few events remaining in this year. If you would just tell us how it feels to be champion here in Prattville.
STACY LEWIS: It's unbelievable. I mean, winning never gets easier. I think it might have looked easy out there but it was hard. Every shot was stressful, and I know on this golf course with one swing you can make a double pretty easy. I had some adrenaline going there at the end. I played great today, I just got off to kind of a rough start but kind of righted the ship at the middle of the round and just played really solid coming in.
MODERATOR: Yesterday you started off super hot, four birdies through the first five holes. Today you bogeyed 2, you bounced back with a birdie, but just talk about the start and the fact that some other players started to climb the leaderboard while you were staying steady.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, on purpose I didn't look at the leaderboard, especially after the start I got off to; definitely not what I was looking for. I think I was kind of thinking about Player of the Year race, what will it mean if I won and all that kind of stuff. I made the birdie on 5 and that really kind of got me back to today and focusing on this round and today and not worrying about anything else. If it was meant to be, it was meant to be. I started making putts and played good on the back nine, so I guess it was.
MODERATOR: On the back nine there was a little charge from Lexi, who had seven birdies on the day and also birdied 10, 11 and 12 in a row to get pretty close to your lead. Did you know that was happening? Did you look at the leaderboard?
STACY LEWIS: I honestly had no idea. I knew Angela was within a couple all day. I didn't know Lexi ‑‑ I guess she was within 1 on ‑‑ when we got to 16. That was the only time all day that I actually knew what was going on. So I knew making birdie there on 16 was huge to just kind of give me that cushion. Then I didn't know ‑‑ I knew she was through 17, I didn't know if she birdied 18 so there were kind of some unknowns there. But I hit a great drive on 18 and did what I needed to going into the green and looked up and saw a two‑shot lead and I was good to go.
MODERATOR: With the win you regain or you're projected to regain your No. 2 spot on the Rolex Rankings, which you've previously held. You also get your second within win in Alabama. We're calling it the Alabama Slam, a combined 35 under par in eight rounds on the RTJ Golf Trail. Just talk about Alabama and what this year has been like in this state for you.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I don't know what it is. I don't know if it's the Bermudagrass, and it's kind of what I grew up on in Texas. You know, it can get windy here and I'm used to that. I don't know what it is. I like playing these kind of courses where you have to hit good shots. If you don't hit good shots, you're not rewarded and I like that. I mean, I like that it's hard and you can make birdies but you've got to hit the shots.
Q. I heard you're staying at the Sleep Inn as I guess you do every year?
STACY LEWIS: Yep.
Q. Success hasn't really changed you that much, it seems. Can you just talk about how you stay grounded with your bank account changing and ‑‑
STACY LEWIS: Well, for here I've always stayed at the Sleep Inn. I don't know why, I've just always stayed there. When I checked in this week, the lady knew me when I walked in the door, so it was kind of fun, kind of makes you feel like you're coming home a little bit. I don't know, it's just me. The last couple weeks I stayed with a friend and we shared a hotel room and it's just who I am. I'm not going to change because I got a paycheck or anything like that. My friends definitely keep me grounded. They like to bring me back to earth, but they also know ‑‑ they cheer for me and want me to do well, but they're also (indiscernible.) And my parents and my mom, my mom does a pretty good job at that, too. It's just who I am. I'm not a person defined by my success. I just love playing golf, and if I play pretty well, it's just a bonus.
Q. How do you feel about this particular course and the reception that you've gotten from the community here in Prattville?
STACY LEWIS: It's been great all week. You know, the fans, you can tell ‑‑ I could tell throughout the day kind of where I stood just kind of how people were reacting and cheering. We had great support there throughout the week. I mean, I love playing in Alabama. This course hasn't treated me well until the last two years, so I don't know what changed that all of a sudden I started playing well on it. The course is in unbelievable shape this year, the greens were perfect. It was a really good test this week.
MODERATOR: Stacy, you said earlier this year you had kind of already achieved some of the goals you set out for yourself at the start of the year. With this paycheck you're increasing an already career‑best season money total, you're in the hunt to be the first American to be Player of the Year since 1994. Just talk about resetting your goals and whether you're willing to share how that works.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I mean, after I won in Atlantic City, I definitely blew all my goals out, that's when I became the top American. I had won a couple times, those were kind of my two main goals. Now I have my sights set on Yani. I think I've got the game to get there and it's just got to keep chipping away at Yani's lead. You know, this definitely helps a lot. Going forward just for the rest of this year, it's the same thing, giving myself a chance to win on Sunday and keep putting myself in contention and let the rest take care of itself.
Q. What does it mean to have your father here watching you win?
STACY LEWIS: It's really special. You know, he actually caddied for me in Hawaii earlier this year because my caddie had a death in the family. It didn't go very well and we kind of sat down afterwards and kind of, you know, figured out what I needed to do off the course and needed their help a little bit to kind of help just get me more balanced and figure things out. So that's kind of the reason that he wasn't there for the first two wins this year. And I didn't want him to get a complex thinking that without him there ‑‑ I could only win without him there. It's awesome to have my dad here and for him to be able to share in this. He gave me a hug afterwards and he was shaking, so that's why he's not on the bag anymore. But it's ‑‑ I mean, he lives and die]s with what I do and he's always keeping track of it, so I'm just glad he could be here to share this one with me.
Q. You said earlier that winning doesn't get any easier. Surely there's something though now that you feel like you're better at in closing?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, definitely. I was definitely a lot more comfortable coming down the stretch knowing that I could hit the shots and knowing how to handle my nerves and knowing that I'm going to hit a drive probably 300 yards on the last hole, and just knowing how your body reacts to the pressure I think helps you a lot. I don't know, I don't know, I felt a lot more comfortable just coming into the round. I got off to a bad start and I knew to just stay patient, to hang in there. I told my caddie I just needed one putt to go in and I made the putt on 9 and I knew from there I was good to go.
Q. You were saying earlier about the balance. Exactly (inaudible)
STACY LEWIS: It's just this year I kind of ‑‑ I gained some sponsors and kind of had more obligations and it was hard. I was trying to balance my family and my sponsors and my golf and trying to figure out how to manage all that. It's hard because a lot of times when your family comes, they get you when you're right off the course when you had a bad day, you're not very nice to them and they take the brunt of that. I felt horrible for treating them that way, and for me I almost ‑‑ I told them I needed a little bit of a break just for me to help figure out how to handle that and how to leave golf at the golf course and not push it on my family, which is what I was doing. So I needed some time to figure that out. This year they've been unbelievable. They've tried to help do that. We kind of figured it out and he's been to more tournaments lately so I'm just glad he was here for the win.
MODERATOR: Before we close, can you just take us through your bogey at 2 and then the four birdies?
STACY LEWIS: Yes. 2 was a three‑putt, hit it front left of the green and didn't hit a good first putt and probably missed about a 10‑footer. And then 5, I hit a gap wedge to probably five feet, made the putt there. 9, I hit a pitching wedge in, had about probably a 15‑footer. That was kind of the key putt for me. And then 10, actually I almost holed my shot on 10. I was about I think 95 yards, landed right by the cup, it went about six feet past and made a little slider down the hill. And then 16, I hit 8‑iron in and had maybe 12 feet but it was straight downhill and my caddie helped me get a perfect read there and right in the center.
Q. It looked like three of the last four holes you had at least what looked like makeable birdie putts. Did you like the position you were in in those holes, just didn't go in?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I just got some weird putts that broke different ways than I thought, just total misreads. You know, that happens, you get a few goofy putts, but I was happy with the shots I hit into those holes.
Q. The three‑birdie stretch there, can you talk about ‑‑ can you give me specifics on the length of your putts there on those three holes?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. On No. 10 I chipped up to about six feet and made it. Then 11 I hit it to about a foot and a half, made it. And then next hole I hit a 9‑iron to about 10 feet and made it.
Q. And your thought process after that? You obviously just put yourself back into great position.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I knew I was in position pretty close to the lead, but I was just trying to make birdies and just keep playing consistent, give myself chances.
Q. Were you watching the leaderboard at all?
LEXI THOMPSON: Not really. I actually ‑‑ I think I saw it on 16 or 17, I saw that she was at 17‑under, so I was just trying to make birdies.
Q. What's your schedule for the rest of the year?
LEXI THOMPSON: I have two weeks off and then I go to Malaysia, Korea, then Taiwan. Then I think I have a week off and Titleholders, hopefully Lorena's event and Dubai.
Q. How great was it to be back on this course again?
LEXI THOMPSON: It's great to be back in Alabama. I just love being here. The atmosphere and fans are amazing. You know, I feel like I'm at home.
Q. You seem to really enjoy the Prattville community.
LEXI THOMPSON: Pretty much. Just the fans, they're so supportive here and it's just great to see all the fans out here, and Waffle House and everything like that, at the football game, so it's great to be here.
Q. It seems to come down to you and Stacy the last couple times.
LEXI THOMPSON: Um‑hmm.
Q. Do y'all have a good little thing going here? She likes it here too, obviously.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, she does. She's played amazing this year and everybody knows how great of a player she is. Once I saw her going into the lead into today, I knew I would have to put up a good round because she would shoot a few under I was figuring.
Q. What was your mindset heading into today knowing that yesterday you didn't really have that great of a round? What was your mindset heading into today knowing that you needed to play well in order to get back up there?
LEXI THOMPSON: Pretty much just forget totally about yesterday and come in today just blank minded and just free swing, I have nothing to lose and just go for birdies. I started off bad, I bogeyed the first hole, so I just went for it from there.
Q. 18 you probably ‑‑ I'm sure you weren't paying attention, but it seemed you were a birdie putt away from a tie and then all of a sudden Stacy moved to 18‑under.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I saw that she moved to 18 before I putted it but obviously still wanted to make it, just a misread. But yeah, it happens. I was very happy with the shots I hit it coming in on the back nine.
Q. You came really close to defending your title.
LEXI THOMPSON: Um‑hmm.
Q. How does that feel?
LEXI THOMPSON: It feels good. You know, just being back here at this golf course, huge comfort level for me, gave me a lot of confidence coming into this week knowing how well I played last year, so I'll deal with whatever finish I get. I was very happy with today.