Don’t count out Stacy Lewis.
Currently trailing leader Amy Yang by three strokes heading into the weekend at the U.S. Women’s Open, Lewis has fought back from a larger deficit to nearly win.
In 2014, Lewis trailed by four strokes after 36-holes and then by six entering the final round. The former world number one made a charge on Sunday with a final round 66 to finish solo second, two strokes behind champion Michelle Wie. Those memories will serve her well this weekend as she tries to claim her first U.S. Women’s Open.
“You know you can get on runs where you can make some birdies,” Lewis told the media Friday. “You can have nine bad holes and still win this golf tournament. Just knowing that you can get hot and make a bunch of birdies and put a good number out there.”
Friday, players struggled to adjust to the slower greens after the course took on quite a bit of rain during a weather delay Thursday. Lewis carded a 67 for the second lowest round of the day, allowing her to climb 12 spots up the leaderboard into a tie for second after round two.
“I was watching scores a little bit today and nobody was going low or anything, but I felt like it was an opportunity to move up just because no one was doing anything,” Lewis said. “Just the more time you are in position, the better.”
It was her ball striking, hitting 14 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens that propelled her up the leaderboard Friday by getting out of her own head and just golfing her ball, resulting in some of her best play of the year.
“I just started playing golf, is really what it was,” said Lewis. “I was thinking a lot those first ten, 11 holes, thinking a lot about my golf swing and just not playing. So I got to just playing golf these last, this last round and a half, I guess. And it's what you're seeing in the scores. I hit the irons today probably the best I've hit them in a really long time, so it was really nice.”
With 11 victories including two major championships on the LPGA Tour, Lewis knows what it takes to win and forcing it isn’t the answer, even when trailing. Her strategy is to continue playing smart, hitting fairways and greens, positioning herself to score rather than trying to force birdies.
“When you're a couple back of the lead at a normal tournament you can think let's go and try to make some birdies,” Lewis said. “But here you just can't try to make birdies, you've got to try to hit good shots and that's what I need to keep telling myself tomorrow.”
Lewis is paired with 36-hole leader Amy Yang in round three. The two tee off at 2:05pm.