It’s all fun and ‘Woo Pig Sooie’ chants until class is in session for University of Arkansas alumnae Maria Fassi and Stacy Lewis. Mathematics and philosophy are sprinkled into those lessons at Midland Country Club in the second edition of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, along with a plethora of knowledge that a 13-year LPGA Tour veteran has to offer.
“For me, let’s go back to Monday and being able to pick Stacy’s brain for a few hours,” said Fassi, a two-time ANNIKA Award winner and the 2019 NCAA Championships Individual Medalist. “I have been able to learn so much of how the game should be played. I’ve smiled more than I have all year. We are having a great time. I’m happy we’re playing together and I have the opportunity to learn from one of the best.”
Lewis, a 13-time LPGA Tour winner and #LPGAMom, has taken the youthful Fassi under her wing this week in Midland, Mich. They’re chasing a title as Team Tex Mex, a name derived from their native roots, but there’s a teacher-student dynamic also happening among the duo inside the ropes.
“We really haven’t talked a lot of golf swing and specifics, it’s more just the process and thinking our way through shots correctly,” Lewis said. “The greatest thing about her is that she can already hit the shots. That’s why I’m hounding on her, it’s just the right shot at the right time.
“I don’t speak Spanish with her and her caddie, but I can kind of hear some numbers being thrown out and when I hear the right number, I walk away because I know they’re on the right track. If they’re kind of taking longer than I think they should, I’ll step in and say something. IT has been cool to watch her grown, and I feel like she has a lot just since Monday.”
It’s a coaching role that Lewis has embraced. And Fassi, the protégé, soaks everything up like a sponge.
“The best part about it is that she’s taking it in and listening. Sometimes you try to give advice to people and they don’t listen to you. She’s definitely listening and taking it in,” said Lewis. “I feel a lot of it is learning yourself. I think I’ve always just kind of been a naturally smarter player. My coaches at Arkansas would probably tell you that, just that there was a lot of times I used my smarts to win golf tournaments and playing to my strengths.”
Playing to their strengths is exactly what Lewis and Fassi will strive to do as they head into the weekend at 6-under overall following a second-round 65 in fourball on Thursday.
“The main thing is that it’s just picking the right shot at the right time. There is a time and place to play aggressively,” said Fassi, a Dow ambassador. “For me, it has been more of knowing when to use my length as a strength and then also knowing when to hold back a little bit more, trust that I can still hit it close with an 8- or 9-iron.
“Regardless of what happens, it’s going to be a week I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It’s a privilege to learn from Stacy, to compete with her, to get hyped together. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a professional tournament nearly as much as this week.”