Stacy Lewis said she had something to prove on Sunday at the North Texas LPGA Shootout Presented by JTBC and she proved once again why she’s one of the best golfers in the world. Lewis shot the low round of the day with a 7-under 64 to clinch her ninth career LPGA Tour victory and first of the 2014 season. She finished at 16-under 268 and six shots clear of South Korea’s Meena Lee. Lewis celebrated her win with several family members and her college coach in her home state of Texas.
“It’s awesome,” said Lewis. “It’s relief more than anything. I’ve been so close the last few months, you know, maybe if I win one of those, I don’t get it done here. So I think it was all meant to be. Just to be here with my family.”
Lewis has been playing at an incredibly high level and so consistently over the past year and the University of Arkansas product said this win ranks very highly with her other eight victories. In her last 22 events, she has recorded two wins, six runner-ups and 19 top-10 finishes.
“Considering what’s happened the last few months and being here in Texas, this is one of the best ones,” said Lewis.
The Woodlands, Texas native held a share of the lead with Meena Lee to start the day and has been lights out in her career when leading after 54 holes. Today marked the sixth time in her career that Lewis has won after leading through three rounds. The six-shot win was also the largest margin of victory on Tour since Jiyai Shin’s nine-shot victory at the 2012 RICOH Women’s British Open.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time,” said Lewis of her runaway win. “I kind of have these mini goals in the back of my mind, like a bogey free tournament or a certain number of putts, just kind of things that aren’t necessarily score related. So one of them was kind of taking a tournament and running away with it, and that’s what I’ve wanted to do it now for a year. So to be so close the last few weeks and then to come out and shoot 64, I mean I don’t even know what to say. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and just to do it here at home, in front of all these fans was pretty cool.”
Lewis started the day with a birdie on the par 5 3rd hole to kick-start her run at separating herself from a jam-packed leaderboard. No. 13 Michelle Wie, who was playing five groups ahead of Lewis, put up a fight of her own down the stretch. The three-time LPGA Tour winner eagled the 10th hole for the third time this week to cut Lewis’ lead two shots, then to one shot with a birdie on the par 4 12th hole.
Lewis counter punched with a 25-foot eagle putt on the 7th hole to extend her lead to three shots. She followed up with two consecutive birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 and made the turn with a four-shot lead at 14-under par.
“I got off to kind of a slow start, but the eagle on 7 just really kind of got things going in the right direction, and then just I never let up,” said Lewis.
She picked up her only bogey of the day on the par 3 11th hole, her first bogey in her last 47 holes. She bounced back with a birdie on No. 12 and had a stellar par save on 15 after hitting her tee shot in the hazard and then stuck her third shot to three feet.
“I never let the hammer down, and making par on 15 was huge,” said Lewis. “After hitting what I thought was a good tee shot and then, you know, going in the water, but still making par, I mean that just kind of summarized the day.”
She walked to the 18th tee with a five-shot lead after her fifth birdie of the day on No. 17. But she wasn’t done yet. She gave the Texas crowd the finale they wanted to see with a closing birdie on 18 to close with the six-shot win.
WIE RECORDS ANOTHER TOP-5 FINISH
Michelle Wie tallied her third top-5 finish of the season with a solo third showing at the North Texas LPGA Shootout.
Wie finished her day at four-under, 67, to wrap up her tournament at nine-under, despite making bogeys on her final two holes.
“I was a leaderboard watcher. You know, there isn’t a leaderboard for a couple of holes, and I was tied for par, and I saw her, she was 14, and I made a couple more and a couple more, missed a birdie opportunity on 16 and I thought I had it on 17. I just nuked it over the green. So just hit a wall on the last hole. It’s a little disappointing for me, but at the same time 4 under par on the last day, you know, I’ll take it.”
Wie enjoyed her second trip to Las Colinas and spoke highly of the atmosphere created in North Texas.
“It’s great. You know, I feel like I’ve seen a lot of young girls, young boys out here. It’s great out here. And I think it’s a great opportunity to grow the game,” Wie said. “You know, I think that our tour loves Texas, and Texas people love golf, and I think it’s a perfect fit.”
LEXI TO CHALLENGE HER FANS TOMORROW IN DALLAS
Lexi Thompson recorded a final round 69 today to jump into a tie for sixth for the tournament, her fourth top-10 finish of the year. Thompson will celebrate her solid week by spending some time with her fans in North Texas tomorrow.
Along with her team, she will tell her story, give insider tips and play a couple TopGolf golf games for an event she calls “Red Bull Tee Time.”
“Red Bull Tee Time” was born three years ago when Lexi aspired to get closer to her fans while offering young golfers helpful advice on growing a career in the sport. Dallas will host the first “Tee Time” for 2014, and two more events will be scheduled in North Carolina and Florida.
EAGLES FOR A CAUSE
“Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends” is a season-long charity program that will be tied into the Race to the CME Globe. Each Saturday and Sunday at LPGA tournaments, CME Group will donate $1,000 to Wounded Warrior Project® for each eagle that is recorded. This amount will increase to $5,000 for each eagle during the weekend of the CME Group Tour Championship and a formal check will be presented to the Wounded Warrior Project® during the trophy ceremony at the CME Group Tour Championship.
This weekend, seven eagles were recorded, five today and two on Saturday, which brings the total money raised this year to $103,000. Through the first nine tournaments prior to the North Texas LPGA Shootout, $95,000 had been raised.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“This is a huge step, but you know, I’m going to work just as hard as if I had finished second this week. It’s just my personality. I don’t have it in me to quit. I want to win more and more tournaments. That’s the goal. So you know, things don’t change. It’s just nice to close the deal and to see my game getting better under pressure, because we’ve got some big tournaments coming up this summer.”
–Stacy Lewis on trying to get back to No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings.
THE MODERATOR: All right. It is my pleasure to welcome in the 2014 North Texas LPGA Shootout champion, Stacy Lewis into the interview room. Stacy, I'm sure the emotions have settled in a little bit, but I think the last shot of seeing you drop the putter on the green said it all. You said complete relief. Talk about the emotions initially as soon as that putt dropped.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. You know, it played so hard out there today, and I just never ‑‑ I had it planned out in my head how I was going to hit and play every single shot. And so I never let up until I hit that shot, that last putt. And it's relief. I've been so close the last few months, and just to do it and to do it here of all places. To have my family and friends here. My college coach flew in this morning for the final round. It's one of those things that I almost felt like it was meant to be.
THE MODERATOR: Absolutely. Now, who from your family was here this week? I know they're very important to you. They play a huge role in your life and in your career. Who is here this week supporting you.
STACY LEWIS: Well, my parents, my sister, brother‑in‑law and their two kids. And Cole is the one everybody saw running around there.
THE MODERATOR: If you weren't the top winner this week, I think Cole might have been maybe a close second.
STACY LEWIS: He stole the show.
THE MODERATOR: You said there were some frustrations coming into this week, obviously a lot of close calls. How big of a deal is it for you to be able to bounce back off of a runner up finish? I know coming off last week was a hard week. What does that say about your mental game and how strong you are, that aspect.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I mean it's just me. It's my personality. I don't have it in me to not keep trying and to not come out Tuesday and learn the golf course and work hard again. I just ‑‑ I don't have it in me.
And I was just really proud of the way I got it done today. I got off to kind of a slow start, but the eagle on 7 just really kind of got things going in the right direction, and then just I never let up. I never let the hammer down, and making par on 15 was huge. After hitting what I thought was a good tee shot and then, you know, going in the water, but still making par, I mean that just kind of summarized the day.
THE MODERATOR: That was clutch. Now, I know you said you listened to Cole a little bit when he said make some more putts yesterday after your round. You were pretty awesome on the greens. What was the difference today do you think.
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. Honestly, I didn't ‑‑ I didn't change anything. I didn't do anything different. I didn't ‑‑ you know, I was out there putting for a good 30, 45 minutes last night, and it wasn't ‑‑ there's nothing wrong. They just didn't go in yesterday. And even early I missed a couple of putts that I thought I had made, so I was like, oh, here we go again. But then, you know, the ball just started going, and once you see putts go in, it's kind of contagious.
THE MODERATOR: Sure. Questions for Stacy.
Q. Stacy, you weren't happy after yesterday's round because of the putts. Does having a little chip on your shoulder help you play?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I've always seemed to play the best when I play that underdog role. And I didn't necessarily feel like an underdog, but I felt like I had something to prove today just because of the way I played yesterday.
And I knew if I went out there and hit every shot and every putt where I needed to, I knew I would come out ahead. I had that much confidence in my game that I would be here. And really, other than 10 and 11 didn't go as planned, and everything else went exactly as I had planned it.
THE MODERATOR: I heard one of the commentators say you're one of those players that just has that look in your eye. You were totally in the zone. Did you feel that way right from the get go? Was it something that you just felt it was kind of destined to be this round.
STACY LEWIS: I mean I did. I started to kind of feel it on 7, 8 and 9 and then the little hiccup there on 10 and 11. But the putt on 12 really kind of got me back focused again. And I never ‑‑ honestly I didn't know where I stood until 17 because the way the leaderboards were running through, I never saw where I stood. And I mean I could tell that nobody ahead of us was ‑‑ there were no big cheers or anything like that, so I knew nobody was making a huge run. But I saw Michelle had gotten close. And I don't know, I stayed so focused and controlled what I could control today, and that was my entire goal coming into today was to control myself, control my emotions, and I did a really good job.
Q. I think you answered part of my question. Were you aware of Michelle Wie's run. She birdied 6 and 7 at one point and even gotten within two strokes I think at one point. Were you aware of that and if so, did you feel any added pressure?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I think I saw Michelle had gotten to 10 maybe, but she only had three or four holes to play. So I kind of got that 14 number in the back of my head early on the Back 9 that, you know, she would have to birdie her last three holes basically to tie me.
So I thought if I could get to 14 and stay at 14, that would be a good place to be. So I mean I did know to that extent, but I didn't know how she had finished or where anybody stood really until 17.
But that didn't ‑‑ you know, I didn't change my shots. I played 17 the way I was going to. I played 18 the same way. Even I I'd had a one‑shot lead, I would have played it the same.
Q. Stacy, we've obviously talked constantly about all the close calls. What does it mean to you to win not in a close way but kind of a run away like you did today, the biggest margin of victory in over a year and a half on the tour?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I've been wanting to do this for a long time. I kind of have these mini goals in the back of my mind, like a bogey‑free tournament or certain number of putts, just kind of things that aren't necessarily score related. So one of them was kind of taking a tournament and running away with it, and that's what ‑‑ I've wanted to do it now for a year. So to be so close the last few weeks and then to come out and shoot 64, I mean I don't even know what to say. I mean it's just ‑‑ it's what I've always wanted to do, and just to do it here at home, in front of all these fans was pretty cool.
Q. And specifically on 15 obviously you couldn't decide ‑‑ you had the iron in your hand and you went the other. Think about how that could have really turned things around.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. The first two days of the tournament that hole played into the wind, so it played a lot easier. And then we were thinking, you know, 14 we hit hybrid off that tee and it went down there about 270, downwind rolling out. And so I mean it was right in between hybrid and 4‑iron. So I didn't want to be too far back, though, and have a really long iron into that green. It just didn't make any sense. But I hit the shot I wanted to. That's why my caddie was kind of mad. I don't know if he was mad at himself or just that the ball released out that much. But I told him I said, we hit the shot exactly how I wanted to. And that's all I can do. And so we got up there and dropped, and it was a perfect number, I mean for the conditions, I mean it was 136 but it was a perfect wedge. And I mean I executed the shot.
You know, I told him walking off the green, I said we wanted to make par on this hole, and that's what we had to do.
Q. How much do things change for you now in that you are getting closer to No. 1? Obviously that's where you want to be.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. This is a huge step, but you know, I'm going to work just as hard as if I had finished second this week. It's just my personality. I don't have it in me to quit. I want to win more and more tournaments. That's the goal. So you know, things don't change. It's just nice to close the deal and to see my game getting better under pressure, because we've got some big tournaments coming up this summer.
THE MODERATOR: It's never a bad deal when your name's obviously on the leaderboard, and we keep hearing who's writing the scripts for the LPGA these days, and Stacy Lewis winning in Texas. I mean couldn't really scripted it much better. What does that mean to finally get in the conversation of winning on the tour this season and having such a big monumental win I guess in your home state.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. All the winners we've had this year it's been unbelievable momentum for the tour. And I think just the leaderboard we had going into today created a lot of drama, a lot of people paid attention.
But it's nice to be included in those list of winners. I definitely felt like my name probably should have been there already. But it's just nice to be there. And you know, the tour, we've got some great momentum going. We've got a lot of ‑‑ you know, we've added so many sponsors, so many tournaments. And there's probably some big news coming up soon. So I think, you know, this tour is ‑‑ we're moving in the right direction. It's a great thing to be a part of.
(Quick quotes immediately after play)
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it did. I mean I knew it was going to be tough today, and I love it when it's windy. I love it when it's hard, you have to hit shots.
I stayed so patient out there. You know, I hit that tee shot in the water on 15 and still made par. It was just one of those rounds you dream of having.
STACY LEWIS: Oh, for sure. I mean I knew it was going to be windy. That just fits my game to a tee. So I love it when it's hard. I love it when you have to grind for some pars. But I made some long putts today and that was the difference.
Q. Your I believe nine wins now. Is it a little more special being here in what you consider your home state?
STACY LEWIS: Considering what's happened the last few months and being here in Texas, this is one of the best ones.
Q. What does this do for your confidence? So many near misses.
STACY LEWIS: It's just I've always wanted to do this, kind of run away with it on the last day, so I've kind of checked something off the list, but you know, the confidence has been there and that's not going to change. But it's definitely nice to have another trophy.
Q. And it was great advice from young Cole yesterday. What you needed to do to win. What did he say?
STACY LEWIS: Make some more putts. (Laughs).
Q. All right. I'm now joined by the 2014 North Texas LPGA Shootout champion, Stacy Lewis. Stacy, in your home state. I mean you dropped the putter. You could see how happy you were. How are your feelings right now?
STACY LEWIS: It's awesome. It's relief more than anything. I've been so close the last few months, you know, maybe if I win one of those, I don't get it done here. So I think it was all meant to be. Just to be here with my family.
COLE WYSOCKI: That's it. You can putt!
STACY LEWIS: And just hanging out with this guy all week, you can't help but smile.
Q. You said yesterday, I said, hey, Cole, what does Stacy need to do? Is it he said make some more putts. You had the putter rolling. You were sensational on the greens. Do you think that was the key today?
STACY LEWIS: It was. It was going to be hard to get the ball close, so I knew I needed to make some putts, and really, the eagle putt on 7 kind of got the ball rolling, and I just ‑‑ I made par on the hard holes and made birdie when I could, and it was just an awesome day.
Q. Another terrific performance this week. However, somewhat of a disappointment on the finish. Are you a leaderboard watcher? Did you know where you were standing as you were progressing through those last three holes?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. I was a leaderboard watcher. You know, there isn't a leaderboard for a couple of holes, and I was tied for par, and I saw her, she was 14, and I made a couple more and a couple more, missed a birdie opportunity on 16 and I thought I had it on 17. I just nuked it over the green. So just hit a wall on the last hole. It's a little disappointing for me, but at the same time 4‑under par on the last day, you know, I'll take it.
Q. So the burning question on everybody's lips is why the decision on 18 with an iron as opposed to going with your stinger 3‑wood which I've watched you play tremendously all season long. What was the thought process going on there?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, it's so sloped left to right that I thought about it, if I hit a 3‑wood, it's going straight in the water. There's no chance of it being in the fairway. Sara hit a draw and landed on the left edge of the green and she had to chip out. So I put myself in perfect position. I just did a nice hook with the 8‑iron into the trees. So that was unfortunate, but that was really the only place I could go. I wish I could be a little bit more aggressive on that hole, but there was really no place to hit it.
Q. Well, enjoy your week off and thanks for your time.
MICHELLE WIE: Thank you.
Q. Here about this being a new market and last week you were in a new market. What does it say to you to see all these people out here on a Sunday?
MICHELLE WIE: It's great. You know, I feel like I've seen a lot of young girls, young boys out here. It's great out here. And I think it's a great opportunity to grow the game.
Q. Is this a market you think that can be a regular on the schedule?
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, for sure. You know, I think that our tour loves Texas, and Texas people love golf, and I think it's a perfect fit.
Q. You were talking about how you judge tournaments sometimes by the food. You had some barbecue adventure while you were here?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. It was great.
Q. What did you do?
MICHELLE WIE: We went to just a couple of barbecue restaurants around here, and it was awesome.
Q. Was this Texas barbecue?
MICHELLE WIE: Yes, it was.
Q. What did you think?
MICHELLE WIE: It's awesome. It's really good.
Q. Were these like just local, kind of hole in the wall places?
MICHELLE WIE: Uh, yeah.
Q. So for tournaments you'd rank this as a food major?
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, yeah, for sure.