It’s rest and recharge week once again on the LPGA Tour after a pair of weeks that kept the train rolling for women’s golf’s preeminent pro tour.
World No. 1 Stacy Lewis carded a 6-under 65 on Sunday to win the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G in her adopted state, thrilling fans and giving Lewis an emotional and heartfelt victory to add to her collection. The 2012 Rolex Player of the Year and former University of Arkansas star now has 11 career titles and became the fifth two-time winner on Tour this season thanks to the triumph.
Lewis needed every birdie, finishing a single stroke ahead of the talented trio of Lydia Ko, Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford to pocket the $300,000 first-place prize. Lewis’ victory came the week after Michelle Wie earned her first career major title at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2, a grueling win that pushed the 24-year-old to her limits.
Wie then went on a whirlwind media tour in New York City and still managed to shoot back-to-back 66s in Arkansas to take the 36-hole lead into Sunday. Her final-round 73 dropped Wie into a tie for eighth as she secured her 10th top-10 finish of the season.
Both players, among others, likely need a breather this week before the Tour shifts its sights to the RICOH Women’s British Open in Southport, Lancashire, England. The third major of the LPGA season, the RICOH Women’s British Open is a $3 million test fitting of a major, and players will be required to step up their games.
A number of the pros will likely head to the UK sometime this week in order to get in an extra practice round or two at Royal Birkdale Golf Club. Lewis will defend her title at a different location, but the mystique of being a reigning major champ will not be lost on the talented American.
No American player has won consecutive Women’s British Open crowns since Sherri Steinhauer doubled up in 1998 and 1999, and Lewis is in form to do just that. It won’t be easy, and the tournament no doubt will be an entertaining roller-coaster of activity.
But first, it’s a week for players to inhale and exhale deeply, catch up on sleep, fine-tune their games or play tourist in the UK for a few days. This is the Tour’s sixth schedule break of the season, and the previous weeks off have had little effect in slowing down the LPGA’s massive momentum.
Players have thrived after taking some time off so far this season, and there’s no reason to think that will change anytime soon. Next week’s major is the first of three consecutive LPGA events that finish with the much-anticipated International Crown match-play showdown in Owings Mills, Md., in late July.
Tour stars better rest now while they can, because the next three weeks will be a heck of a trifecta.