Two-time major winner Stacy Lewis returned to the LPGA Tour at last week’s LPGA Drive On Championship and will tee it up again this week at the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana. The Texas native, who was born in Toledo and is always a favorite at Highland Meadows, was initially tentative on returning to play as the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. But through 10 days, she is pleased with how the Tour has handled this return to play.
“We're able to come back a little bit quicker than NBA and baseball, and we're doing it right so far,” said Lewis. “So far we've had a minimal number of positive tests. I feel like we're doing a good job and showing that golf can be played and sports can be played.”
Lewis was particularly thankful for the charter flights that will take Tour players, caddies and staff to and from Scotland for the next two weeks of competition. With the pandemic still affecting competitions around the world, Lewis sees the charter flights as an extra layer of security that will allow her to continue to compete.
“I was just very hesitant to go fly through multiple airports. The charter really made my decision to go,” said Lewis, who won the 2013 AIG Women’s Open at St Andrews. “I feel like with the uncertainty of all the events at the end of the year still, I feel like we have tournaments we need to play right now. Just if we're going to have one, I'm going to be there.”
This week at Highland Meadows, Lewis is looking for her first Marathon victory and first win since the 2017 Cambia Portland Classic. It’s not quite the same feeling on the course without fans and her family cheering on the hometown player, but even without them outside the ropes Lewis is thankful for the opportunity to compete again.
“I know Judd (Silverman, the tournament director) really wanted to have this tournament for this community more than anything. There are so many charities that rely on this event. I know he really wanted for us to be here this week,” said Lewis. “I can see all the crew and the family even though they're not at the tournament. We're hanging out outside and doing our best social distancing, but you still want to go see family. So I get to do all that kind of stuff, too.”
SMUCKER’S ABOUT MORE THAN PB&J, ALSO SUPPORTS LPGA MOTHERS LIKE BRITTANY LANG
2016 U.S. Women’s Open champion Brittany Lang is back on the LPGA Tour after taking maternity leave. She and her husband Kevin Spann, who caddied for Lang at last week’s inaugural LPGA Drive On Championship, welcomed baby Shay on January 23. During these two weeks in Ohio, the power couple is figuring out how to take care of Shay while Lang is continuing her job as a professional athlete. Perhaps the hardest part? Sleep, for both mom and baby.
“It's quite different than my first 14 years on Tour. I'm tired,” said Lang. “She's been a really good sleeper for a long time and she's kind of having some sleep regressions. I don't know if it's because we're in a new place, but she's woke up a lot these past few weeks. So I haven't gotten a lot of solid sleep.”
Part of the process of figuring out new routines includes utilizing the LPGA’s Smucker’s LPGA Child Development Center, which has supported the LPGA’s Moms on Tour for more than 25 years. Led by Bardine May, the program travels with the LPGA Tour across the United States, providing critical care and education support to the Tour’s working moms.
“We're lucky to have those ladies, and she's doing great. I think she enjoys being there more than with Kevin and I. Those ladies are saints. We're so fortunate,” said Lang, who added that Shay is “doing awesome” in the program. “I've known these ladies since I've been out here. Joy has been out 10 years; I think Bardine is 20 years. They're awesome, very calm, and they just make you feel so good. I was explaining to them when I was dropping Shay off, ‘If you pull her in real close and rock her, she goes to sleep.’ She's like, ‘Brittany, we know. We got it.’ They just make you feel so comfortable. ‘Go play golf, do your thing, we got her.’ It just makes you feel so good.”
The LPGA Tour has wrapped up its pre-tournament testing for COVID-19 at the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana. A total of 334 tests were administered to players and caddies during pre-travel testing and early-week testing ahead of this week’s event. As of late afternoon on Wednesday there were two caddies who tested positive and three tests are still pending.
It was announced on Tuesday that the caddie for Perrine Delacour had tested positive. Due to close contact with her caddie, Delacour withdrew from the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana and started her 14-day quarantine per CDC and local health authority regulations.
On Wednesday, the caddie for Allie White tested positive and began his 10-day quarantine. White has also withdrawn from this week’s event due to close contact with her caddie and will begin her 14-day quarantine.
“Of course, I would love to be playing this week but mostly I am just hoping my caddie gets back to COVID-19 negative as soon as possible,” White said. “Although he and I spent limited time together, I needed to withdraw so that the LPGA could take the precautions required during these difficult times. In the grand scheme withdrawing is a small thing in a year like this. I hope people will do their best to meet the everchanging 2020 with flexibility, understanding and kindness.”
Delacour, White and both caddies who tested positive have all been working with Tour and local health officials on contact tracing.
AIG WOMEN’S OPEN QUALIFYING INFORMATION
There are 10 spots available this week at the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana for the 2020 AIG Women’s Open, to be held Aug. 20-23 at Royal Troon in Scotland. To be included in the qualifier, players must be in the field for the Marathon LPGA Classic.
The 10 spots will be determined by the players with the 10 lowest scores after 72 holes at this week’s Marathon LPGA Classic. In the case of a tie for 10th, a series of tiebreakers have been set to determine the final qualifier. If one of the qualifiers elects to not play in the AIG Women’s Open, the spot will not go down to the next available player. Any unused spots will be allocated to the qualifier at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open.