Whether it’s playing at her home-state or being the mother of her baby girl Chesnee, the 13-time LPGA Tour winner Stacy Lewis is humbled and happy to play on home turf.
“I want us to get an event in Houston as well more consistently than just a U.S. Open. Just you think of all the young golfers in Texas that need the role models, they need to come see what a professional event looks like and have goals and have aspirations,” said Lewis of how she feels about playing in the lone-star state. “I mean, it's important that we're here. And obviously I've won the tournament, had some success, maybe not on this golf course, but excited to play.”
Since turning pro in 2008, the Texan has become an inspiration to young golfers around the world. With three events left in the 2020 season and two of them being in her home state, Lewis cannot help but think back to her junior golf days.
“100%, especially right now because this is ‑ this time of the year I played a ton in Texas in junior events around Christmastime, and you're just freezing cold and it's dry and it's ‑wet ‑ or it's more wet but everything's brown and it's gross outside. So it really reminds you of growing up,” said Lewis. “‑This is what I played in as a kid. We need to play in Texas. I think of me growing up here and just having the opportunity to see the professionals play as a little kid. Obviously we can't have fans, but we need to keep this tournament going.”
The tournament finds itself in a later part of the year which invites chillier and windier conditions. Yet, for the Aberdeen Standard Investment Ladies Scottish Open champion, it’s not a threat. “I don't know if you prefer it, but I don't mind it. I guess a lot of people pulled out this week because of the weather and things like that. That's never crossed my mind. It just adds another element to it, it makes it a little bit harder and I think that's why I play better. But it does, it does feel like Scotland more than Texas, especially yesterday,” said Lewis.
MEADOW DRAWS ON MEMORABLE 2019 VOA CLASSIC FOR THIS WEEK’S INSPIRATION
In 2019, Stephanie Meadow had only one objective at the Volunteers of America Classic: retain her LPGA Tour card for 2020. She entered the week at 112th place on the Official Money List and needed an eighth-place finish or better to move inside the top 100 to maintain a spot on Tour next season. After opening with a first-round 63, she kept herself in contention through the weekend until her penultimate hole. “I'm a numbers person,” said Meadow, who knew in the moment it would take a birdie-birdie finish to achieve her goal on the final day. In the end, she delivered.
“[The memory] is something you draw on probably for the rest of my career. Like it's one thing to win a tournament and another to keep your job,” said Meadow, who ended up finishing 99th on the Official Money List with her T6 performance. “I mean, to do that and to make that putt and just I guess it was relief when I made it. Then I got in the clubhouse and I started asking, like when are we going to know the final numbers? Like I'm trying to figure it out in my head. My counting brain is going, I'm like I think I'm good. But until I got that email from I think Heather [Daly-Donofrio] sent me an email with the updated list before it was posted online and it was like, you're good, that was kind of my sense of relief before I got on the plane to fly home.”
Her finish at the 2019 event was her best result in her last three years on Tour, and Meadow said she’s turned the confidence she gained from those final moments into momentum for 2020. She’s only missed two cuts through 13 events in 2020 and tied her career-best finish (third) at the Pelican Women’s Championship presented by DEX Imaging and Konica Minolta before venturing to the Old American Golf Club.
Meadow said adjusting to the weather this week may pose a challenge but staying consistent will be key for finishing out strong over the weekend. “I think the wind's just going to be totally different the next few days, so I think the golf course is going to play quite different to what it did,” said Meadow, who has fiancé Kyle Kallan on the bag in The Colony, Texas. “It was like 90-something degrees here last year, so it's almost like a different golf course in itself. You know, a golf course is a golf course; you hit good shots, you get rewarded.”