Mobile Bay LPGA Classic
RTJ Trail, Magnolia Grove, The Crossings
Pre-tournament Notes and Interviews
May 15, 2013
Stacy Lewis, Defending Champion and Rolex Rankings No. 2
The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail will serve as the backdrop for this week’s Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, where 144 pros will tee off on The Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove. With the total purse at $1.2 million, the winner will take away the $180,000 first-place check and etch their name next to four past champions that include Angela Stanford (2008), Se Ri Pak (2010), Maria Hjorth (2011) and Stacy Lewis (2012).
Lewis’ victory in Mobile last year was the first of four in 2012, which kick started her campaign for Rolex Player of the Year honors. She became the first winner of the 2012 season to capture a title with all four rounds in the 60s, ending the week at 17-under par and fighting off a Sunday charge from teenage standout Lexi Thompson. The Woodlands, Texas native went on to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic, the Navistar LPGA Classic and the Mizuno Classic and notched a total of 12 additional top-10 finishes. She has carried on that success this year as she leads the Tour in top-10s with seven and claimed back-to-back victories at the HSBC Women’s Champions and RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.
Rolex Rankings No. 19 Angela Stanford enters the week after tallying her second top-5 finish of the season at the Kingsmill Championship. The inaugural winner of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic is in her 13th season as an LPGA Tour professional and is seeking to capture her sixth career victory.
One year, one huge difference: Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) admits she sometimes can’t fathom all that she has done in one calendar year dating back to her second-career victory in Mobile last season. The Texas native was more relieved with finally getting a second win under her belt than preparing herself for a campaign that would include earning Rolex Player of the Year honors and reaching No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings.
“You know, when I came here last year I was coming off of a missed cut, not playing well and really wanting to get that first ‑‑ not being just a one‑time winner, get that off your back,” said Lewis. “I never imagined that I would get to No. 1 in the world, win the Player of the Year. That was never even on the radar before I started this tournament last year. So it's just amazing how ‑‑ now looking for my 8th win, I was just looking for my 2nd this time last year, so not many people can say that.”
To say the win opened the floodgates for Lewis’ career may be an understatement. She has recorded 18 top-10 finishes since her victory in Mobile including five wins. She continues to be a top-10 machine and is demonstrating considerable consistency week in and week out.
“Yeah, that's always my goal is to be in contention on Sunday because I think I would rather finish in the Top 10 every week than win one week and miss five cuts,” said Lewis. “It's a lot less stressful. And I've kind of learned how to manage the weeks that I don't play my best. Some days you've just got to get the ball in the hole and that's how you finish. That day you get it in the hole you finish 8th instead of finish 25th. So that's the big difference is really managing my game better and managing my emotions a little better, I'm always trying to do that, and just really kind of grow up”
She leads the Tour in top-10’s this season with seven already and is on pace to surpass the 15 top-10’s she notched in 2012. It earned her the Kia Performance ‘Drive to the Top’ Award given to the player with the most top-10’s and was awarded a brand new Kia Optima. She opted to give the new wheels to her parents and said her family has already been in talks on who would get one this year if she were to win again.
“Yeah, my parents, I think my family's already fighting over who gets the next car,” said Lewis. “Maybe I'll get to drive it when I visit them, but I don't know if that car will actually end up in my garage or not.”
This is SEC Country: The Southeastern Conference is well represented this week in Mobile with 22 SEC alums in the field. In an area that hears a lot of “Roll Tide’s” and “War Eagles” and takes SEC sports very seriously, the southern Alabama community will have a chance to cheer for players from 11 different SEC schools this week. A group of alum gathered on Wednesday for an SEC Showcase to show off their colors and declared their allegiance to their alma maters.
“My best memories at Auburn were definitely us winning SEC back-to-back years,” said Auburn alum Nicole Hage (@NicoleHage). “They really were. Just all the team stuff. We were really good, we kicked all their butts.”
Nothing like a little smack talk for a Wednesday afternoon. Jacqui Concolino (@concgolf) made her case for Vanderbilt which is the highest ranked school academically.
“Yea and who has the highest graduation rates?”
Prom please? Growing up in Spain, third-year LPGA Tour member Belen Mozo (@BelenMozo) never attended a prom since schools there did not host the school-wide functions. But as a 24-year old, Mozo took an opportunity last week to attend her first prom and also make a dream come true. A few weeks ago she was practicing at Medalist in Jupiter, Fla. alongside some PGA pros and watched a video that came through her Twitter feed that turned out to be a prom invitation. It was from Alex Notte, a Reardon High School (Knoxville, Tenn.) student and Special Olympics golfer, who said all the right things to make Mozo’s decision quite easy.
“I was out at Medalist practicing with some PGA guys and I got a tweet with a video and I just got blown away,” said Mozo. “I remember I was sitting in the cart and messing around on Twitter and I just stopped and was like ‘oh my gosh that is the most beautiful video I’ve seen in my life.’ I didn’t know him but in my head the answer was easy. The guys couldn’t believe it when I said I was going to go.”
Not wanting to receive any attention for her deed, Mozo tried to keep the date low key, but was persuaded to use it as a platform for an even bigger cause.
“We wanted to keep it low key but it went viral so we decided to use it as an opportunity to raise money for Special Olympics,” said Mozo. “It turned out to be a whole day. We played golf in the morning, then did a clinic to raise money for Special Olympics.”
But the highlight of the day came when the limo pulled up to drive the group to the dance. Mozo said Notte’s friends kept things entertaining.
“I think the limo drive was the best part,” said Mozo. “They are truly special kids. They have a closer connection to God and you can feel it. You’re with them and you feel super well. We just had a blast.”
Mozo was quick to point out her date’s etiquette and how he seemed to be one of the most popular kids in the room.
“He practiced how to hold your arm out, he opened the door for me,” said Mozo. “It was so special. He was a dancing machine and always surrounded by friends.”
Five Things You Didn’t Know About…Nicole Hage
- She laughs when she tells the story of how she was recruited to Auburn. When Nicole got her first call from the coach, she told her she didn’t want to play on the west coast. After finding out she’d be playing in Alabama, it turned out to be a great match.
- She has a slight obsession with her three Cocker Spaniels: Bo Jackson, Reese and CJ.
- Nicole attended the Indianapolis 500 last year and said she would love to be a race car driver if she wasn’t a golfer.
- She’s a self-proclaimed ‘chocoholic’ and her current go-to is white chocolate with cookies and cream Hershey’s Drops
- Nicole is roommates with fellow LPGA Tour pro Cindy LaCrosse in Jupiter, Fla. and claims to be the neat freak of the duo. Super organized and clean, she says she has some OCD tendencies when it comes to keeping their place tidy
Tweet of the Day: “Former #SEC golfers send thoughts to @AUAthletics coach Kim Evans, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. #SECFamily” -@MobileBayLPGA
Of Note…Tessa Teachman (69) and Inhong Lim (71) earned spots in the field this week through the Monday qualifier where Lim outlasted Courtney Harter in a six-hole sudden death playoff.
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 2
MODERATOR: Well, I'd like to welcome in the defending champ this week, Stacy Lewis, our Rolex Rankings No. 2 player. Yesterday you said it feels like home here. You've obviously had great success, a lot of good memories. How are you feeling? How good does it feel to be back?
STACY LEWIS: It's really nice to be back. You know, about this time last year is when things really kind of started going right for me. I'm in a completely different place coming into this year than I was last year, so it's nice to ‑‑ I mean, to even think I had six wins since we were here is pretty amazing. I'm excited to be back. I love this golf course, it fits my eye and the greens are perfect, so scores are definitely going to be low again.
MODERATOR: Coming off an off week, in the recent past your off weeks haven't been much of resting, it's been a little busy, been crazy doing off‑course, media stuff. How are you feeling? Did you get a chance to recharge at all or was it full schedule as usual?
STACY LEWIS: Right after Kingsmill I went to Atlantic City for a media day and was there all day Monday, did a ton of interviews, and they're definitely ready for us to come there. Then got home on Monday night and was there until this Monday. Actually, it's the first time in a couple months that I've been home a week. I needed it. I took some time off. I practiced a little bit, but spent a lot of time at the beach, worked on my tan a little bit, got burned and I'm peeling now. So it's something that I needed to kind of get away and just clear my head more than anything.
MODERATOR: Now, not to live in the past, but you said last year's win here might have been your most important win of your career, really jump started, it was the stepping stone to get last year's season going, which turned out pretty well for you. Going back to that win afterwards, did you ever imagine you would be sitting in this position with what you've accomplished so far just in one calendar year? Was it even on your radar or you had a feeling you had a breakout coming?
STACY LEWIS: You know, when I came here last year I was coming off of a missed cut, not playing well and really wanting to get that first ‑‑ not being just a one‑time winner, get that off your back. I never imagined that I would get to No. 1 in the world, win the Player of the Year. That was never even on the radar before I started this tournament last year. So it's just amazing how ‑‑ now looking for my 8th win, I was just looking for my 2nd this time last year, so not many people can say that.
MODERATOR: We've talked about you managing expectations. You set them very high for yourself. I think you started to realize you're probably not going to win every week, but you're getting pretty close, you're always there. You're running on seven Top 10s this year, you're leading the Tour in that category, you're going for your 4th consecutive this week. Talk about your consistency and how much that aspect of your game you've kind of taken ownership of or have so much pride in that you're always in contention that you always kind of talk about.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, that's always my goal is to be in contention on Sunday because I think I would rather finish in the Top 10 every week than win one week and miss five cuts. It's a lot less stressful. And I've kind of learned how to manage the weeks that I don't play my best. Some days you've just got to get the ball in the hole and that's how you finish. That day you get it in the hole you finish 8th instead of finish 25th. So that's the big difference is really managing my game better and managing my emotions a little better, I'm always trying to do that, and just really kind of grow up, just have to kind of grow up every year.
MODERATOR: I talked about the Top 10. We have the Kia Performance banner over here. You're leading the Kia Drive to the Top, which you won last year, got a car. You gave it to your mom. Do you have an eye on that? Do you have enough room in your garage? I think they're pretty nice.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, my parents, I think my family's already fighting over who gets the next car.
MODERATOR: The pressure's on.
STACY LEWIS: Maybe I'll get to drive it when I visit them, but I don't know if that car will actually end up in my garage or not.
MODERATOR: That's great. Let's talk about Feherty, the episode you filmed recently. I want to remind everybody that premiers Monday. Can you give us a sneak peek of what's going to come out, anything that we should be expecting?
STACY LEWIS: You know, I've been really busy and so kind of a whirlwind of filming it, but we were able to fit it in. And David, he's crazy. It was a lot of fun. We had a good chat for a couple hours and I'm excited to see how it comes out. We talked a lot about my back and charity stuff, and I guess the big thing is I brought my back braces that I wore when I was a kid. I kept my first one and my last one, and so I brought those onto the show, we kind of talked about that. I've never shown those to anyone before, so I'm excited to see how it comes out.
MODERATOR: Lastly, we'll wrap it up, you're heading to the Mobile Bay Bears game tomorrow.
STACY LEWIS: Yep.
MODERATOR: Throwing out the first pitch, you and Lincicome. I think you guys have done this before but I don't think it went as well as you expected. Tell us about this story and possibly changing it up going into tomorrow.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, we went last year and kind of at the last minute they wanted one of us to throw it and one to catch, and so Brittany had thrown more pitches than me, first pitches out, and so I said, You throw it, I'll catch it. We really didn't get any warmup time and she decided to throw it at my feet and so it went flying to the backstop. But then afterwards we were kind of on the field and throwing the ball and she goes, You should have been throwing it instead of me. So I think this year I'll throw it, so I guess the pressure's on now.
MODERATOR: You have to practice a little bit?
STACY LEWIS: We ended up ‑‑ gosh, they couldn't get anybody to run the bases and do the fun stuff, so we ended up running the bases. We acted like little kids.