GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN | Solheim Cup captain, Stacy Lewis played alongside American standout Andrea Lee in the first round of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give on Thursday morning, which was a great opportunity for both competitors. Lee is looking to make the U.S. team ahead of the Solheim Cup matches at Finca Cortesin Costa del Sol, Andalucía in September of 2023, and the opening round at Blythefield Country Club gave Captain Lewis a chance to do some scouting.
"Andrea is a great putter. It gets me excited because that's something I think our team has been missing. So, it was great to watch her play. I mean, she has a really good demeanor out there, plays quick, and is decisive," Lewis said.
Lee opened the event with a 6-under 66 and sits near the top of the leaderboard, but the 23-year-old still said there is room for improvement as the tournament proceeds.
"Yeah, I got it rolling pretty early on. I was 3 under after nine and made quite a few birdies on that turn—just a nice momentum kick. I didn't have the best finish today, having that reachable par-5 as the last hole and parring it. But overall, I'm pleased with the way I played today, just really solid golf," Lee said.
The Stanford alum made back-to-back birdies on both the front and back nines at Blythefield, which was crucial in conditions that gave up plenty of low scores.
"I wasn't even thinking about how many birdies I made in the last X (number) of holes. I just kept the pedal down and was going through the process with my caddie, Drew, just on each shot," she said.
Stacy Lewis ended up one stroke behind Lee, finishing at 5 under, a solid start as well.
"No bogeys, five birdies. I had probably three or four putts lip out, too, so it could have been a lot better. But it was just really easy, and I hit a ton of greens," Lewis said.
The 37-year-old, who has earned 13 LPGA Tour wins including two major championships, said she enjoys the game more when golf feels easy.
"I've been looking for easy golf for a while now, so it was nice to see some of the things I've been working on coming together a little bit—everything: ball striking, driver, golf swing to chipping to putting,” Lewis said. “I felt things were a little bit closer last week and just shored a few things up, and it's been good."
Lee said she was fully prepared to grind it out on the Epson Tour this season. But playing well enough to be in a position where she doesn't have to worry about her schedule has been incredible. Her first professional win at the Casino Del Sol Golf Classic helped her to get into more tournaments, allowing her to bypass qualifiers and improve her LPGA Tour status this season.
"I think I learned a lot last year about myself. It was a tough year for me, as I've said before. But, yeah, this year, I just have been really grinding. The win on the Epson Tour really gave me a lot of confidence. To have the status I do now on the LPGA Tour isn't something I even thought about at the beginning of the year," Lee said.
Now she thinks about playing herself into contention on an LPGA Tour weekend.
"I think sometimes I get a little bit in my head on the weekend,” Lee said. “I have to finish or play well to be somewhere near the top. But this week, I'm just going to focus on my shots and the process and just go about my business and not worry about what other girls are doing."