Altvater: Stacy Lewis talks recent tournaments, top competitorsWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
In a one-on-one interview with Stacy Lewis, the top-ranked female golfer in the world covered a wide range of subjects, most notably her runner-up finish to Michelle Wie at the U.S. Women’s Open and her thoughts on some of her biggest competitors.
Lewis spent most of her youth growing up in Houston, Texas, after her family moved there when she was quite young, but she was born in Toledo.
She also battled scoliosis throughout her teenage years and was forced to wear a body brace for up to 18 hours every day.
In spite of all of this, she was a four-time All-American at the University of Arkansas and has had a stellar career on the LPGA Tour.
Lewis is the No. 1-ranked woman golfer in the world and is No. 1 on the 2014 LPGA Tour money list and Race to the CME Globe.
She just won her third title of the year and has finished inside the Top 10 in 12 of 14 starts in 2014. Two of those top-10 finishes came in a third-place at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and as runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Open, both major championships on the LPGA Tour.
After taking the first-round lead with a nearly perfect three-under-par 67 at the U.S. Women’s Open, Lewis struggled in the second and third rounds at Pinehurst with 73-74 before posting a four-under-par 66 on Sunday to finish runner-up, two shots behind Wie.
I asked her to compare her good rounds on Thursday and Sunday with the two poor rounds on Friday and Saturday.
“I missed some putts on Thursday and could have shot 64,” Lewis said. “I didn’t hit the ball as well on Friday and Saturday, still didn’t putt very well and had a bunch of three putts, which I normally don’t do.
“Sunday was just typical me. You know, I’m a grinder, I’m a fighter and I finally figured something out with my putting on Sunday and made some putts.
“I was happy to finish off the tournament strong and just to know that I can miss a few shots and still have a chance to win.”
I asked her if she felt the course conditions could have mandated an easier set up for the U.S. Women’s Open at the difficult Pinehurst No. 2.
“I felt the set up at Pinehurst was just about perfect. I thought the USGA did a tremendous job of preparing the course and got it right for the U.S. Women’s Open.
“The USGA could have lengthened the course to 6,600 yards, but had shortened it to 6,100 yards to allow us to hit similar iron shots into the greens as the men had the week before.”
Lewis did not feel that the experience gleaned from Pinehurst No. 2 would help much in her preparation for the Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship and she added that she would not travel to England until July 14. (She finished in a five-way tie for 12th place.)
“I don’t like to get to the tournament site too early. You can practice and then it seems like you have to sit around and wait for the tournament to start.”
Playing links-style golf in England or Scotland requires controlling your golf ball in the wind and Lewis said she would spend some time working on controlling her trajectory in the week before the tournament.
“Learning to hit the variety of chip shots and shots into the greens with varying wind conditions found on a link-style golf course are the most difficult lessons to learn when playing in a Women’s British Open.”
I asked Stacy to rate the best young players on the LPGA Tour right now and tell us who she felt had the game that would stand the test of time and be a force in years to come on the LPGA Tour.
“I really feel Lexi [Thompson]. I think she has the length and is the best ball-striker on tour. She also has the touch around the greens and is figuring out her putting. I think Lexi is going to be around for a long, long time.”
I told her that I felt teenage sensation Lydia Ko’s game was similar to her own, in that Ko had no apparent weaknesses and was solid in every aspect of her game.
“She is very, very consistent. It’s that boring golf when you play with her; she doesn’t do anything flashy, but she is always there.
“Lydia’s biggest thing is how she will transition over the next couple of years. She has turned professional at a very young age and will be growing up in the limelight. It will be important how she and her team manage the next few years and allow her to be a kid and have some fun.”
Lewis feels that Michelle Wie’s success this season has been something that has been building over the past three seasons.
“She is happy and has taken ownership of her game. She’s working hard, she’s the one that is in the gym telling herself she needs to work out, there is no one else pushing her,” Lewis said. “For example, she chose that putting stroke and stance despite what everyone else was saying, made it her own and made it work for her. She has taken ownership of her game and made it her own.”
Lewis’ list of accomplishments over the past four years on the LPGA Tour is long and distinguished. At 29 years old, she still has a long career ahead of her and will retire as one of the great women golfers of all time.
Lewis, Thompson, Ko and Wie will all be in Sylvania July 17-20 to compete at the Marathon Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
The complete interview with Stacy Lewis can be heard at: http://bit.ly/backninelewis.
Fred Altvater offers golf tips and videos at www.toledoohiogolflessons.com. Email him at BackNine@toledofree press.com or follow him on Twitter @tolohgolfr.