Rolex Rankings No. 2, Stacy Lewis (-16)
Rolex Rankings No. 104, Christina Kim (-10)
Stacy Lewis claimed her 10th career LPGA Tour win with a six-shot victory at the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer. Lewis shot a final-round 67 to push her three-day total to 16-under par, one shot shy of the tournament record. Fellow American Christina Kim finished runner-up at 10-under par. Lewis is projected to take over the No. 1 ranking in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings on Monday, snapping Inbee Park’s 59-week streak at the top spot.
“I don’t know what it is about this place,” said Lewis. “It’s just really special to me. I’ve played some really good golf here, and it’s just mind boggling really to think I have ten wins out here. It’s so hard to win. There’s so many good players, and it’s so hard to win, so you never take them for granted. You enjoy them, that’s for sure. I’ve learned that you enjoy them because they’re so hard.”
Lewis started the day with a one-shot lead and two early birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 gave her a two-shot advantage through the front-nine. The Texan said that there was no point in round where she felt totally comfortable with the lead. She made back-to-back birdies on the 10th and 11th holes to extend her lead to three but an up-and-down back nine kept things interesting.
“Making those putts on 10 and 11 kind of freed things up, but then that back 9 was just so back and forth,” said Lewis. “It was just kind of wild swings of emotion, from me, from Christina. You know, we’d hit good shots and we would hit terrible shots. And I don’t know, it was a little bit up and down. It was kind of exhausting actually coming in.”
She had two bogeys in her final seven holes (Nos. 12 and 17) snapping a 33-hole bogey-free streak this week but sealed the victory with a six-foot birdie putt for a six-shot win. It marks the second time this season Lewis won by six shots. She won the North Texas LPGA Shootout by the same margin.
Lewis became just the fourth player in the event’s 26-year history to notch multiple wins at the ShopRite LPGA Tour Classic and was stunned to hear the esteemed company she was joining. She now has her name alongside Hall of Famers Juli Inkster (1986, 1988), Betsy King (1987, 1995, 2001) and Annika Sorenstam (1998, 2002, 2005) as players to win the event more than once.
“That’s a pretty good list of people there,” said Lewis. “That’s not too bad. Wow, that’s really cool. I love walking through this clubhouse and seeing all the list of the names of the winners that are up on the wall and just to do it twice and I mean as you said, I don’t even know what to say. I mean that list of past winners, they’re all Hall of Famers, so who knows what’s in store for me, but it’s just a really cool list to be on.”
NO. 1 AGAIN
The new No. 1 player in the world took over exactly the way she wanted to Sunday - by winning the golf tournament. She briefly took over No. 1 in 2013, but that reign was short lived, lasting only four weeks before Inbee Park started her 59-week stranglehold on No. 1.
“You know, last time it was taken away from me in an off-week when we weren’t even playing, so I’m definitely just going to not take it for granted and really enjoy it this time,” Lewis said. “Now I know all the extra things that come along with it, but I’m ready for it this time.”
The bullseye’s not going away. Nor is the hype or the questions about No. 1. She understands that, but this time she’s better equipped to manage her time.
“I’ve really gotten better over the last year at managing my schedule. And you know, knowing what I physically what I can do and I now know better what helps me play my best golf. So I think managing the schedule is going to be key,” Lewis said. “At the same time, you know, I can’t put too much pressure on myself. You know, my goal, I know people get tired of me saying it, but my goal is to win the tournaments, and so whatever happens after that is fine.”
The Sunday leaderboard at the ShopRite Classic Presented by Acer looked like so many have looked this season - laden with stars and stripes - as the Americans continue to dominate the 2014 season. Stacy Lewis’ win marks the sixth time in seven events that an American has won. Out of 13 events, an American has won eight times. The Race to the CME Globe standings look much the same with four Americans in the top five.
On Sunday, that was the case again with four American players in the top six including the top two.
On the other hand, South Korea, which has dominated the tour in recent years and had six winners at this point a year ago, has not scratched the win column yet this year. It doesn’t look like a brief anomaly either with every American winner so far under the age of 30. In addition, each of those American winners was in the top 16 in the world in the Rolex Rankings heading into this week.
THE CHRISTINA KIM OF OLD
Christina Kim got what she had waited four years for Sunday - that feeling walking to the 1st tee of the final round knowing she had as good of chance as any to get a win. She didn’t end up with a win but walking up the 18th fairway in the final group showed what we’ve seen throughout this year so far - Her game’s on the way back.
“I hadn’t been in contention in a while, so I kind of forgot what it was like having nerves, and kind of showed on the last hole,” Kim said of a double bogey on the 18th. But I didn’t want to make it look like it was going to be a close victory for Stacy, so I was either going to be like one shot behind or like 10, so I went for the latter. I wanted to make it look like a blow-out victory for her.”
The second place finish is her best since 2007, and she missed that level of golf. Just not the nerves that come with it.
“Nope. I really, really didn’t, because you could tell on 18, they suck,” said Kim, laughing. “ No. It was different. That’s for sure. It was incredible, and it was just -- it was so much fun, but yeah, I think I’ll be better off the next time around, once I get back into contention a little bit more, it won’t be nearly as nerve wracking or terrifying or exciting or thrilling or blood pumping or whatever, whatever words you want to use to describe it. I don’t need that. I got enough stress in my life. As long as I can be okay being in contention, I’ll be all right. But it won’t be nearly as scary the second time around.”
Based off her form so far this year - 9 made cuts in 10 events and two top-10s - she’ll be back soon.
EAGLES FOR A CAUSE
“Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends” is a season-long charity program that will be tied into the Race to the CME Globe. Each Saturday and Sunday at LPGA tournaments, CME Group will donate $1,000 to Wounded Warrior Project® for each eagle that is recorded. This amount will increase to $5,000 for each eagle during the weekend of the CME Group Tour Championship and a formal check will be presented to the Wounded Warrior Project® during the trophy ceremony at the CME Group Tour Championship.
Today, 15 eagles were recorded to go along with the 20 yesterday. It brings the total money raised this year to $151,000. Through the first 12 tournaments prior to the Airbus LPGA Classic Presented by JTBC, $116,000 had been raised.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
““The fans, I mean the fans are just it’s unbelievable, the amount of people we get out at this tournament. You finish there at 18 and you’re just absolutely mobbed all the way through there. There’s really no escape. So it’s just cool to see all the people that come out, and to me it feels like it’s growing every year, too.”
-Stacy Lewis on the fans in New Jersey this week.
Rolex Rankings No. 2, Stacy Lewis (-16)
THE MODERATOR: All right. Well, it is my pleasure to welcome in the 2014 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer champion Stacy Lewis. Stacy, congratulations. Your tenth career LPGA Tour victory. Crazy. You said this is very, very special. You said all week you came here in 2012, took over the top spot as the American in the Rolex Rankings. This week you'll move to No. 1 in the world. Talk about what you're feeling now. You got a little choked up out there on the green.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I don't know what it is about this place. It's just really special to me. I've played some really good golf here, and it's just mind boggling really to think I have ten wins out here. It's so hard to win. There's so many good players, and it's so hard to win, so you never take them for granted. You enjoy them, that's for sure. I've learned that you enjoy them because they're so hard.
And it feels great to, you know, just go out there with everything that was on the line today and just play some really good steady golf and do what I needed to do.
THE MODERATOR: Had you did you feel coming into today, only a one‑shot lead, and on this course anything can change very, very quickly. Did you feel comfortable? You looked very comfortable out there, but what was the feeling coming into today?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I mean I felt as the week was coming on, I felt like I was hitting ‑‑ getting more comfortable with the way I was hitting the ball, and I started out, you know, actually hit some good shots early, and that really kind of got me settled in.
And I knew it was going to be hard. You know, I liked the fact that the wind was blowing today. That kind of leveled out the field a little bit. I think it didn't allow someone to shoot 8 or 9‑under like we had the first two days.
So that kind of made things a little bit easier, but the golf course is still hard. You just have to take one shot for what it is and that's what I was able to do.
THE MODERATOR: You said you wanted your game to do the talking. I have to bring up a rankings question. You're going to be No. 1. How does that feel? I know you said it's a very big deal for you just to get the wins and have it happen, but now that it has happened, how does it feel?
STACY LEWIS: It feels great. I mean I feel like I've played a lot of good, consistent golf over the last really year in that I felt like I deserve to be here. I didn't feel like I stumbled into it. You know, I just really felt like I worked hard and I earned my spot here, and so you know, that's what I'm proud of.
You know, last time it was taken away from me in an off‑week when we weren't even playing, so I'm definitely just going to not take it for granted and really enjoy it this time. Now I know all the extra things that come along with it, but I'm ready for it this time.
THE MODERATOR: You're prepped. Questions for Stacy?
Q. Was there any point in your round today, Stacy, where you felt like you had to hold things together? I'm thinking about that up‑and‑down at No. 6. That wasn't the easiest spot to get up‑and‑down from.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I mean early on, you know, those holes ‑‑ really, those holes we play out to the water, like 2 and 6 and 7, they're some hard holes, so I really actually was kind of doing what I had planned out.
You know, I made a couple birdies early, and then ‑‑ and the up‑and‑down on 6, I mean I didn't feel like that was a huge momentum change if I didn't make that putt. But the goal there, 6, 7 was just to make par and get out of there. So I felt like up until really until 9 I was doing what I had kind of planned out in my head.
And I was ‑‑ you know, after 9 I was a little frustrated because I mean I had 5‑iron into that green and to come away with par was not very good. So I was a little frustrated there, but then making those putts on 10 and 11 kind of freed things up, but then that Back 9 was just so back and forth. It was just kind of wild swings of emotion, from me, from Christina. You know, we'd hit good shots and we would hit terrible shots. And I don't know, it was a little bit up‑and‑down. It was kind of exhausting actually coming in.
Q. Stacy, you gotta talk a little bit about the place. I mean you've played so well here. What is it about this place and what about the fans who have actually kind of adopted you and made kind of a fan favorite here? Just talk a little bit about that and why you play well here and the crowd's reaction to you?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I think this golf course is a ball striker's course because the greens, the type of greens, poa annua, they're never going to run super smooth, and you know that coming into the week. So you know a ball striker is going to win here.
I think you look at a lot of the past winners, they're good strikers, so that's really what I like about it. You have to shape shots. The par‑5s you can take advantage of. Length is always an advantage.
I don't know. It really suits my game, and if I make some putts, that's when things kind of get going.
And the fans, I mean the fans are just ‑‑ it's unbelievable, the amount of people we get out at this tournament. You finish there at 18 and you're just absolutely mobbed all the way through there. There's really no escape. So it's just cool to see all the people that come out, and to me it feels like it's growing every year, too.
Q. And you're a winner now. This tournament's been here 26 years; you're the fourth multiple winner. The other three are Sorenstam, King and Inkster. What does it mean to join that group of players there?
STACY LEWIS: That's a pretty good list of people there. That's not too bad. Wow, that's really cool. I love walking through this clubhouse and seeing all the list of the names of the winners that are up on the wall and just to do it twice and I mean as you said, I don't even know what to say. I mean that list of past winners, they're all Hall‑of‑Famers, so who knows what's in store for me, but it's just a really cool list to be on.
Q. Stacy, obviously No. 1 earlier for a short time. What did you learn from those few weeks, if anything. And you said you want to not joy it more. How can you enjoy it more because still people are going to be asking you about it even though you've made No. 1 now.
STACY LEWIS: Oh, yeah, the scenarios are still going to be there. I know, but you know, last time the timing of it was just right before Kraft, and all the media hype, all that, it just went crazy, and I ran from place to place to place instead of saying I can't do that. I need to get some sleep tonight.
So I've really gotten better over the last year at managing my schedule. And you know, knowing what I physically what I can do and I now know better what helps me play my best golf. So I think managing the schedule is going to be key. At the same time, you know, I can't put too much pressure on myself. You know, my goal, I know people get tired of me saying it, but my goal is to win the tournaments, and so whatever happens after that is fine.
So you know, I'm going to play at Manulife next week and I'm going to tee it up on Thursday going there to win. And it doesn't matter if I'm 1 or 100 in the world, I'm going there giving myself a chance to win.
Q. And you also mentioned more opportunities being No. 1. Good opportunities, like what are some of those specifically?
STACY LEWIS: Oh, I don't know. There's always ‑‑ there's just a lot of requests. You know, I think ‑‑ look at what I did this week and how busy I was, and I was still able to play some good golf. So that just gives me a lot of confidence.
And it's just a lot of people pulling you in different directions is really what it is. You know, I'm fortunate I have a good team of people around me, and I think we'll all handle it a little better this time.
Q. Stacy, you didn't play well here last year. You had an opening round 67?
STACY LEWIS: Yep.
Q. And then you shot 80.
STACY LEWIS: Yep.
Q. And you shot 74?
STACY LEWIS: Thank you for bringing that up (laughs).
Q. Do you have a short memory?
STACY LEWIS: Yes, because I didn't even remember that. (Laughs). I knew I didn't play well here, but I didn't know that.
Q. And not that you have any control about this, but we've talked in the past about the cover of Golf Digest. Do you think you deserve that cover?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. You know, that's not my decision to make, but you know, the editors certainly heard my stance on it last time, and no, we'll see what happens. It would be a good time, a good story line to lead into the U.S. Open. But you know, it's not my decision. But I think they're really kind of ‑‑ they're getting the message and hopefully eventually one of us will be there.
Q. What is your favorite hole on this golf course?
STACY LEWIS: Favorite hole. Favorite hole, I probably, I actually like No. 3, the par‑5. It's always reachable. You can make some birdies and hit some good shots in there close. But I like all the par‑5s because you have eagle chances.
Q. Congratulations. And what is your favorite golf course to play?
STACY LEWIS: I guess ‑‑ do I have to say this one while we're here? Yeah. I don't know. Actually, as cool as that is, I went to Pinehurst on Monday and Tuesday, which is the same designer, Donald Ross did that golf course, too. So you know, I liked being at Pinehurst, and it was good practice for this one. So who knows what'll happen.
Q. Congratulations. And how long have you been playing golf for, and why do you like it?
STACY LEWIS: Thank you. And I started playing when I was about seven or eight. How old are you guys? Nine? They're on their way, then.
But you know, I love ‑‑ I love the competition. I love getting inside the ropes and walking up 18 with a chance to win and feeling the nerves, feeling the pressure. You know, that's what I live for, and I love ‑‑ and besides that, I just love to practice. I love to learn new shots and just go out there and hit an 8 or a 7 iron out of a bunker and see what you can do, just try to be creative, and you can always learn new things.
Q. What is your favorite club?
STACY LEWIS: Favorite golf club? Probably my driver, just because I like to get out there and hit it far.
THE MODERATOR: Grip it and rip it.
STACY LEWIS: Exactly.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Last question for me. You said this would be great timing to come in here and get a win going into the stretch of the rest of the season. How do you hopefully try to ride this momentum out?
STACY LEWIS: Well, it's just keep doing what I'm doing. You know, coming off of ‑‑ I won in Texas a few weeks ago, and we had an off‑week and I think I got a little complacent and didn't play the way I would have liked at Kingsmill and even last week. So if I learned anything from that, it's that to not be complacent and just go back out there and work hard and keep doing what's got me to this point because it's working. So that's what I'm going to keep doing. I'm excited. We've got majors coming up this summer, International Crown. We have so much coming up here these next few months really, but I'm just excited that I'm playing good golf and taking home another trophy.
Rolex Rankings No. 104, Christina Kim (-10)
Q. You haven't been in contention in a while. How was it out there? Was it as fun as you thought it would be?
CHRISTINA KIM: Yeah. I had a great time. I mean fortunately I had a great pairing with Jennifer Johnson and Stacy, and we just had a blast, you know. It was a lot of fun.
I was pretty slow to start, was one over through a bit of my round and then made a little run to put a little fire under Stacy's behind. And it was just great watching her.
Like you said, I hadn't been in contention in a while, so I kind of forgot what it was like having nerves, and kind of showed on the last hole. But I didn't want to make it look like it was going to be a close victory for Stacy, so I was either going to be like one shot behind or like 10, so I went for the latter. I wanted to make it look like a blow‑out victory for her.
Q. Got a little emotional there coming off the green. Run me through that.
CHRISTINA KIM: Yeah, I hadn't ‑‑ I've been through a lot, so, you know, I've ‑‑ I've been through a lot, so golf is one of my sanctuaries, and is when you're not ‑‑ you almost feel like you're not welcome home, with some of the numbers I've been putting up the last several years due to injury and being messed up in the head and things like that, you know, you feel very ‑‑ it's just a flood of emotions. I mean I don't ‑‑ I don't know ‑‑ you know, I've just worked so hard, even working through the injury and working, you know, through the emotions and everything and just, you know, having ‑‑ trying to continue to have faith in myself, it's just ‑‑ it's very difficult, especially when you feel like you're just getting kicked in the teeth every week.
But you know, golf is, like I said, it's my sanctuary, and it's so much fun. And like I said yesterday, it's just a game, but it still means more to me than most things in this world.
Q. And how much did it mean to you just to see how much the fans embraced you this week being back in contention? It seemed like everyone just loved having you back up there.
CHRISTINA KIM: Yeah, that was huge for me as well, you know, me having people shout my name and telling me that they're rooting for me, it always brings a smile to my face, because you know, they could be picking anybody out in the field, and you know, I would suggest they probably pick Stacy since she's No. 1 in the world.
But you know, the fans, they mean everything to us, and without the fans, we would have nothing to play for, you know. And you know, people that like I say, come out here and are willing to waste an entire perfect Sunday afternoon and come watch us chase around a little white golf ball, it's very special and it's very touching.
Q. Is the game starting to get back to the level it was before? It seems like week after week you're progressively getting better and better since you've come back.
CHRISTINA KIM: Yeah, like I said, I've worked really hard for this, and you know, people like Stacy and one of my best friends on tour, Michelle Wie have really inspired me to want to try to play better and figure out a way to make the scores happen, you know, regardless of, you know, like I ‑‑ you know, hit it in the bunker and then had to take an unplayable on the last hole and was still able to come runner‑up finish to Stacy.
Just watching those two have been really inspirational and also seeing someone like Karrie Webb, who's been out on tour for 19 years now and she's always been an inspiration since I first met her in like 1999, and I was there when she won her U. S. Open at Pine Needles was my first Open ever. There's just so many people, Meg Mallon, Beth Daniel, Nancy Lopez, throughout the dawn of golf, there's so many people that have inspired me that it just ‑‑ it gives me something to play for.
Q. I think with this week you'll be back up, even despite taking two months off, be back inside the Top‑25 on the Money List?
CHRISTINA KIM: Really?
Q. You don't think so?
CHRISTINA KIM: No. I was 33. I'll probably move up to like 30 ‑‑ I'm going 32. I'm guessing 32. I don't even know what the numbers are.
Q. What's it mean to you, just to see that? Kind of shows your progress, don't you think?
CHRISTINA KIM: Yeah, I mean I know how great this tour is and how competitive this tour is, and you know, it's important to me, but at the end I don't really like looking at where I am on the Money List, because it shows a comparison of how I'm playing versus other people on tour.
CHRISTINA KIM: And for me it's just about seeing how I play, you know. And you know, I wouldn't be nearly as embarrassed if I didn't have to take a double on the last hole and finish runner up, but, you know, there's a lot of positives to this week, so I'm thrilled.
You know, it's nice to see. There's no question. It's nice to see, but at the end of the day that's not what what's making me go to sleep at night.
Q. You talked about the nerves coming up the last. Did you miss that?
CHRISTINA KIM: Nope. I really, really didn't. (Laughs). Because you could tell on 18, they suck (laughs). No. It was different. That's for sure. It was incredible, and it was just ‑‑ it was so much fun, but yeah, I think I'll be better off the next time around, once I get back into contention a little bit more, it won't be nearly as nerve wracking or terrifying or exciting or thrilling or blood pumping or whatever, whatever words you want to use to describe it. I don't need that. I got enough stress in my life. As long as I can be okay being in contention, I'll be all right. But it won't be nearly as scary the second time around.
Q. Is a win coming this year then?
CHRISTINA KIM: We'll see. I don't know. All I know is I can play my best, and if that ends up being the best score at the end of the week, it is, and if it doesn't, it isn't. And wins are important, you know, for your history and your records and this and that, but like I said, where I finish on the Money List, and you know, how many wins I do or don't have is not going to make me a better or worse person. I know I'm a good human being and I care about others, and victories won't make those things greater or lessen them.