Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 1, -12
Lydia Ko, Rolex Rankings No. 4, -11
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 11, -11
Angela Stanford, Rolex Rankings No. 17
Rolex Rankings No.1 Stacy Lewis has been one of the main characters in the storybook script that has unfolded on the LPGA Tour in 2014. The former University of Arkansas Razorback stood in the spotlight once again on Sunday, this time in her adopted home of Northwest Arkansas. Lewis was a standout at nearby U of A in Fayetteville, a twenty minute drive from Pinnacle Golf Club, and said her 11th career victory this week ranks high on her list of the most special wins of her career. The six-year Tour veteran said she had a mix emotions running throughout the entire day.
“I think a little bit of 18 was relief that it was done because I was so stressed out all day and so on edge just wanting to pull every shot off,” said Lewis. “But then it was just excitement to hear the crowd react the way they did and just the people just to go nuts. "
“I mean, that’s why I play,” Lewis added. “I play to get in the heat of the battle, to have that chance to win at the end. That’s why I play. And I want to see where my game is at that point because that’s the ultimate test, because if you can pull it off when the tournament is on the line, you know you’re doing some good things just to pull off those shots.”
Lewis started the day four shots behind the second-round leader Michelle Wie but carded seven birdies and one bogey en-route to a closing 65. Her three-day total of 12-under par 201 was one shot clear of Lydia Ko (65), Cristie Kerr (67) and Angela Stanford (67).
Lewis had three birdies in her first six holes to get to 9-under par and within one shot of Stanford, Kerr and Wie. A three-putt bogey on the par 4 9th hole was her only blip of the day and turned her focus to a back-nine run. She said she wasn’t totally caught up with the tight race going on around her.
A birdie on the par 3 11th hole got her back to 9-under but it was the finishing four holes that tested the 29-year-old’s nerves. She said she wasn’t totally aware of the tight race for the finish going on around her and used the help of a fan heading into the final four holes.
“Actually I didn’t really know much,” said Lewis. “I knew when I made the turn obviously I was a few behind. Then
coming down to 15 a fan actually yelled like, ‘You’re one behind,’ or something like that and I didn’t know where I stood at that point. So I got an assist there. But then I came off of 17, I saw that Lydia made birdie on 18, so I was glad that I had one more hole to play, I had a chance. I knew if I could birdie 18 and get in the clubhouse that would be a pretty good number.”
Lewis had back-to-back birdies on Nos. 15 & 16 to take the lead over Kerr and Lydia Ko who made a back-nine surge of her own with three birdies in her final four holes. Kerr was playing in the group behind Lewis and responded with a birdie of her own on No. 15 to get back to 11-under. Ko was in the group ahead of Lewis and walked in the clubhouse with a share of the lead after a birdie on the 18th.
“These wins, they don’t get easier,” said Lewis. “You look at the names on that leaderboard, some great, great players. Lydia I think shot 65 today, Cristie played well. I mean, it doesn’t get any easier. But it’s also fun, it makes me work harder, it makes me want to be better and I think it’s good for everybody.”
Lewis hit her third shot on the final par 5 18th to seven feet and gave herself some ‘self-talk’ on the green courtesy of her college coach, Shauna Estes-Taylor.
“On that putt on 18, Shauna and I worked on something last week, we were working on my putting and she said it to me a thousand times I think on the putting green on Saturday night and she said, ‘Down the line, down the line.’ So I don’t know if you could see it but out loud ‑‑ Travis told he walked away, he said, ‘Knock it in,’ and I said, ‘Down the line, down the line.’ So that’s all I was telling myself over that putt was “down the line,” just trying to hit a good putt. If it goes in, great. If not, we go play some more golf.”
Lewis sank the putt and gave a fist pump with her teeth clenched and lifted her putter to salute the Arkansas crowd. She headed to the clubhouse to watch the final two groups finish. Kerr left her 30-foot birdie putt on 18 short and So Yeon Ryu failed to chip in on 18 to force a playoff. Lewis, who got her competitive golf career underway as an undergraduate at Arkansas said the victory here is a sweet reminder on how far she has come.
“Now to come to this point being No. 1 in the world and having a bunch of wins on tour, it’s pretty mind boggling when you think back all that’s kind of changed over the last few years,” said Lewis. “It’s just really, really special to win here.”
GRACIOUS IN DEFEAT
Lydia Ko (-11) finished one stroke behind eventually champion Stacy Lewis but even coming off 18 and heading to the clubhouse tied for the lead she knew her chances weren’t great. At that point, Lewis and Cristie Kerr had two holes to play.
“If I get the opportunity to hopefully go in the playoff that’s great because then, you know, maybe I can grind something out.” Ko said before Lewis birdied the final hole. “But the last couple holes there you can make birdies like I did the last two, they’re definitely birdiable, especially with the tee forward on 18. I think the girls that are tied right now that are behind will definitely get on in two, which means it could be birdies.”
Ko and Lewis have been paired together a quite a few times this year, including the first two days at this tournament. They are familiar with each other and a huge amount of respect shared between the two champions.
“She’s playing some awesome golf.” Ko said of Lewis. “She’s I think one of the most consistent players out on the tour right now. She’s having consistent Top 10s like Michelle (Wie) and I think it’s great that we’re playing in her hometown, and the best thing is she’s World No. 1 and they’re proud to say it.”
HEART WARMING WIN
Stacy Lewis is a hog a heart. The former University of Arkansas standout would take that statement as a big compliment and is one of the many proud alumni of the Fayetteville-based school. Lewis came full circle this week in Rogers clinching her 11th career victory and unofficially picked up her first win here in 2007. Lewis led the tournament after 18 holes as an amateur while she was still at Arkansas but the event got rained out and marked unofficial due to not completing 36 holes.
“I mean, this place just means so much to me. I say it all the time, I felt like if I go anywhere else to school, I don’t think I end up where I am. And I’m pretty fortunate I got around a lot of good people here and that’s why I support this tournament and this area so much, just because I feel like I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”
Lewis reflected on the past seven years and all that has happened since the event in 2007. She walked into this week with more eyes on her than ever, having two wins this season and reaching No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings.
“So to win here, it’s just crazy how far I’ve come, you know,” said Lewis. “I guess it’s been seven years since I won as an amateur. Now to come to this point being No. 1 in the world and having a bunch of wins on tour, it’s pretty mind boggling when you think back all that’s kind of changed over the last few years. It’s just really, really special to win here.”
ACE IN THE HOLE
Chella Choi had a hole-in-one on hole 6 today using a 6-iron, 166 yards. The ace moved Choi into a three-way tie for the lead at the time, one she couldn’t hold onto and finished T6 at 9-under...it was her first career ace.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It’s so hard to play here, it’s so much harder than people think. I can tell you I was more nervous today than I was at the U.S. Open last week, that’s just how much this place means to me. The fans today were just, it was unreal. I’ve never heard cheers so loud. It’s just really, really special to win here.”
-Stacy Lewis on how much it means to her to play at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, and in front of a very pro-Stacy crowd.
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.
Today, three total eagles were recorded which brings the total money raised this year to $184,000. Through the first 15
tournaments prior to Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, $181,000 had been raised.
ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE CONTINUES
Jessica Korda was called out by fellow LPGA player Michelle Wie yesterday to complete the “Ice Bucket Challenge” - a challenge that has taken off on social media recently. When you are called out, you either have to participate within 24 hours or donate $100 to a charity of that person’s choice. Jessica completed the challenge after her final round today and called out Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Suzann Pettersen and friend Morty Bouchard.
“I got called out by @themichellewie to do the #icebucketchallenge #itscold .”
- @thejessicakorda via Instagram video
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 1, -12
MODERATOR: All right, everybody, it is my pleasure to welcome in the 2014 Walmart Northwest Arkansas Championship winner, Stacy Lewis, into the interview room.
Stacy, congratulations. I've seen you win a lot and I don't think I've seen you as emotional after a win as I did just right in the clubhouse. Talk about your emotions right now. I know how big of a week this was for you. Talk about clinching the win here in Arkansas.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I mean, this place just means so much to me. I say it all the time, I felt like if I go anywhere else to school, I don't think I end up where I am. And I'm pretty fortunate I got around a lot of good people here and that's why I support this tournament and this area so much, just because I feel like I wouldn't be where I am without them. So to win here, it's just crazy how far I've come, you know. I guess it's been seven years since I won as an amateur. Now to come to this point being No. 1 in the world and having a bunch of wins on tour, it's pretty mind boggling when you think back all that's kind of changed over the last few years. It's just really, really special to win here.
MODERATOR: We sat here on Wednesday and you coming in, you said this might be the most pressure you feel coming into a tournament rivaling majors. Talk about how much this proves for your mental game? We know you're going to go out, we know you're going to make shots, but to handle all the extra stuff this week, how proud are you of that to come in and be able to pull this off?
STACY LEWIS: Well, actually every week is busy now, so the extra stuff doesn't really bother me quite as much anymore, but it's more the pressure of on the golf course playing because you can feel, the crowd just wants to go crazy when you make a putt and you can feel it. It's like you're trying so, so hard to make putts and you don't want to make a mistake, so you're kind of on edge a little bit all day.
You know, I played like that the first few days, I didn't play very good. Even today I probably didn't have my best ball striking day but I found a way to get the ball in the hole. To make the putts like I did those last, really the last four holes was pretty unreal. The crowd, they were ready to go nuts, and when they did it was really cool.
MODERATOR: Open it up for questions for Stacy.
Q. Stacy, you've talked a lot about the pressure coming into this. On 18 there was a little fist pump and it looked like a sigh of relief?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah.
Q. I guess what emotion was more prevalent, and I guess now is it relief, excitement, what is it?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I think a little bit of 18 was relief that it was done because I was so stressed out all day and so on edge just wanting to pull every shot off. But then it was just excitement to hear the crowd react the way they did and just the people just to go nuts. I mean, that's why I play. I play to get in the heat of the battle, to have that chance to win at the end. That's why I play. And I want to see where my game is at that point because that's the ultimate test, because if you can pull it off when the tournament's on the line, you know you're doing some good things just to pull off those shots. The wedge shot was an in‑between number, it was kind of a hard shot and to keep it up there on that back ledge. So, one, to pull that shot off, and then to make the little downhill slider on top of it was pretty good really.
Q. Cristie had the putt on 18 to tie it. Whenever she missed and you and Shauna kind of had that hug, what was that moment like and what did she say to you?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I saw her afterwards and she gave me a hug right when I finished. You know, Shauna's been there the whole way with me. She beat me by about six months coming to Fayetteville. She's a great friend, she was a great coach. She still is a great coach to me. I mean, I'm always calling her with questions or advice on things. It's why I had her at the U.S. Open last week, I wanted her to help with my short game. So she's just somebody that really, she means a lot to me and just to have her there to celebrate with, just really to have all these people here that have supported me all along the way, I can't thank them enough.
Q. Stacy, two questions. First, how did you maintain your composure after the three‑putt on nine, and then frankly did you feel like you won the tournament playing the par‑3s well?
STACY LEWIS: I did. Actually I didn't realize I had four putts on the par‑3s today. The putt on nine, actually the first putt bounced horrendously and it bounced right up the hill. I actually hit a good second putt, so I wasn't really too upset there. Actually I shot 2‑under on the front nine today, which was my best score on the front nine all week. So I thought if I could shoot a couple under on the front, then I could make a move on the back nine because I don't know what it is on this golf course but the back nine just kind of suits me a little bit better. So I kept telling myself just stay patient, stay patient. And really I hit some good golf shots there coming in. I gave myself a lot of chances at birdies. Hit a great shot into 17. It's not the easiest shot to hit with all those people there, so hitting a good shot there kind of gave me that confidence. I think the more you're in the heat of the battle, the more you know how your body's going to react, how your nerves are. I don't know how I do it.
On that putt on 18, Shauna and I worked on something last week, we were working on my putting and she said it to me a thousand times I think on the putting green on Saturday night and she said, Down the line, down the line. So I don't know if you could see it but out loud ‑‑ Travis told he walked away, he said, Knock it in, and I said, Down the line, down the line. So that's all I was telling myself over that putt was "down the line," just trying to hit a good putt. If it goes in, great. If not, we go play some more golf.
Q. How much have you had to maybe adjust your personality a little bit to this week each year in terms of being outgoing and with so much going on, how much of an adjustment has that been for you?
STACY LEWIS: It's been a huge adjustment. I think coming out of school ‑‑ well, when I first came here to school I was extremely shy and so I think I've definitely grown out of that over the years. But I don't know what it is. I've just found that, you know, the more I interact with fans, it makes me more relaxed and enjoying it more is what I'm trying to do. And I think that's what comes off of not being so stressed out all the time and just trying to take the scene in and be like, wow, this is awesome. I think when you do that it relaxes you, so maybe that's a little bit. But I think being outgoing and all that kind of stuff is definitely not me, but I think I'm getting there, I think I'm doing better.
MODERATOR: You had a phone conversation with your dad as soon as you knew you won, you called and said, Oh, they're putting me on speakerphone, they're going nuts. Who was there with them and what did they all have to say to you?
STACY LEWIS: Well, we have a big family vacation that started on Saturday. It's Saturday to Saturday, so I'm missing the first few days of it. So it's my dad and his whole side of the family and my whole family, so there's about 20 people in a house. He put me on speakerphone and all I heard was screaming, so it was a pretty cool scene. And my mom yelled, I can't believe we're not there. I'm going there tomorrow, so we're going to have a good ‑‑ I told them to have a party for tomorrow, so we're going to have a good little celebration.
MODERATOR: Where are they?
STACY LEWIS: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Q. Stacy, as sort of a follow up to both these questions, just some time to rest a little bit and get yourself back in going over to the British Open?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I mean, I'm definitely going to take a few days off and kind of let the body relax a little bit, let the mind relax more than anything. But definitely even though one day there's things I want to work on going into the British. That's just me, I don't know what it is, but I have a few things I want to work on going into the British and I'll do that later this week. But it will be good to just get some family time and be able to unwind a little bit. This week, it's definitely a little hectic and sometimes you just want to crawl in a hole and hide, so I'm excited to be able to do that a little bit next week.
MODERATOR: You've been playing so well on Sundays, you've just been closing out tournaments. Talk about the last final four holes and managing the game plan. Coming in, did you and Travis have a game plan, have a thought process that said we know we have got to go out and attack, attack, attack?
STACY LEWIS: Not really, we didn't really talk about one really. My whole game plan is just to try to hit the right shot at the right time. That pin on 15, it really kind of called for a pitching wedge but you can't chance coming up short in that bunker, so you hit the little 9 up there and I gave myself a good putt at it and fortunate to make that.
Then on 16 you've got to hit a great drive down there and then you've still got to hit a good second shot, so it's really kind of piecing it out shot by shot. That's really what we did, we stayed in the moment, we did what was called for.
I think it showed a lot of where I've come over the last few years of not going for 18. I think a couple years ago I would have just taken 3‑wood and try to rip it up there, but now I trust my game a little bit more, I trust my decision making and I know I can make birdie with a wedge in my hand. So I think that's kind of, you know, from maybe three, four years ago, that's the difference.
MODERATOR: Did you watch the leaderboard at all coming in? A lot of big names, and it was one of the more hotly contested kind of final stretches in a while. Were you watching, did you really know where you were coming in?
STACY LEWIS: Not really. Actually I didn't really know much. I knew when I made the turn obviously I was a few behind. Then coming down to 15 a fan actually yelled like, You're one behind, or something like that and I didn't know where I stood at that point.
MODERATOR: The assist.
STACY LEWIS: So I got an assist there. But then I came off of 17, I saw that Lydia made birdie on 18, so I was glad that I had one more hole to play, I had a chance. I knew if I could birdie 18 and get in the clubhouse that that would be a pretty good number.
But these wins, they don't get easier. You look at the names on that leaderboard, some great, great players. Lydia I think shot 65 today, Cristie played well. I mean, it doesn't get any easier. But it's also fun, it makes me work harder, it makes me want to be better and I think it's good for everybody.
Q. Stacy, your drives at No. 1 this week, correct me if I'm wrong, but it looked like you were playing left side the first day or two and then right side today. Are you that good? Brandel Chamblee has said your swing is as good as anybody, men or women. Is it the same golf swing? Has your swing changed a little bit in the last couple years at all?
STACY LEWIS: I think it's just the golf swing's kind of gotten refined a little bit. We never really made big changes but it's always just kind of tightening it up and making my misses go from here to here. You want your misses to be close. That's all we're really trying to do. I hate that tee shot on one more than anything in the world, I really do. I think it's because I've hit it so many times in college when we played here that I missed it so many times right that I just hate that tee shot. So I was glad this year that it was into the wind and you could just step up there and rip driver. But the golf swing, it's really never big changes, it's just slowly trying to get it better, get it something that I know how to work with it, I know how to fix it. So even if I'm not hitting it great, I can find a way to get it in the hole.
MODERATOR: I have to ask the question, another week on the LPGA, another great win, another great storyline. How big is this for another marquee win, another crazy finish?
STACY LEWIS: Ten wins for Americans this year?
MODERATOR: It's a lot, it's a lot. You coming here to Arkansas with an event that's so player biased that everyone was just willing you to win and it happening kind of like a dream come true, do you have to like pinch yourself a couple times.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, this win, it is a dream come true. To win, just to do it in front of the fans that have been so supportive of me over the years. They've been with me since I was here in school and just to see how it's grown over the years and how we've got more and more people coming out to this tournament and how the tournament's grown. I mean, 17 being as big as it is. And it's one of the favorite venues that all the girls love coming here to play. I think we do a good job here of representing Arkansas. At first all the girls are like, You're going to Arkansas, and then once they get here they love it. We showed Arkansas off to the world pretty good today.
Q. How proud of yourself are you for performing in what you consider I guess your sixth major in front of the most understandably biased crowd I've ever seen?
STACY LEWIS: It's so hard to play here, it's so much harder than people think. I can tell you I was more nervous today than I was at the U.S. Open last week, that's just how much this place means to me. The fans today were just, it was unreal. I've never heard cheers so loud. It's just really, really special to win here.
Q. The 18th hole, 214 to the front, decide to lay up. If you don't make birdie, perhaps a little second guessing will be going on. What went into that decision?
STACY LEWIS: Well, it was more ‑‑ it was the lie, it was a sidehill downhill lie and I just didn't feel like I could carry the front edge, so I didn't want that little 50‑, 60‑yarder down there at the bottom of the hill, I wanted a full shot in there, and I pulled the shot off and pulled the putt off, too.
Q. Just when I think your game can't get any better and your confidence can't get any higher, you do something like you did today. Thirty‑fourth after the first round in only a three‑round tournament, you end up winning. Now you're heading to an event where you're the defending champion. It has to feel like everything's coming together.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it feels great. Coming off of last week where I was so close and to come here and to win, it's really nice to just have that going into the British. I don't know what it is about these final rounds, I love getting in the heat of the battle the last day and making some birdies.
Q. Was that the loudest thing you ever heard on 17 before?
STACY LEWIS: 17 and 18 was pretty loud, too, so yeah, it was, I mean, one of the coolest rounds I've ever played.
Lydia Ko, Rolex Rankings No. 4, -11
Q. All right. So you head to the clubhouse in a three‑way tie for the lead. What's your mindset right now?
LYDIA KO: I'm pretty relaxed. I mean, if I get the opportunity to hopefully go in the playoff that's great because then, you know, maybe I can grind something out. But the last couple holes there you can make birdies like I did the last two, they're definitely birdiable, especially with the tee forward on 18. I think the girls that are tied right now that are behind will definitely get on in two, which means it could be birdies. But I've got my fingers crossed and I know I have to wait patiently.
Q. Can you talk about the conditions on the course today? Having a lot of rain and now the heat, how did that factor into play?
LYDIA KO: Obviously it kind of rained quite a lot yesterday afternoon but luckily I was finished and home and I didn't need to play a couple extra holes this morning. The course was a little wet and I think being a little warmer today was helpful. And I mean also the wind wasn't up as much which made it maybe a little easier for club selection.
Q. Now because it was so close up at the top with so many players on the leaderboard, were you aware today ‑‑
LYDIA KO: I was like ‑‑ I don't know how many behind I was at the start, five, but I'm up there now so I'm pretty surprised. I left a couple putts out there, which kind of was a little disappointing, but then I shot 6‑under today and I should be pretty proud of that.
Q. What's the plan right now?
LYDIA KO: I'm just going to wait and see how the girls come in. Just have to go with my rhythm. If it goes my way to being to start off a playoff, that's great. If not, can't do much about it.
Q. One final, the fans here, Loudest Hole on Tour, were you feeling the love on 17 especially today?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, it was great. Yesterday we were in the morning and there were still people there. That shows how much the people of Arkansas love this sport, especially having Stacy in my group I think yesterday and the day before, it definitely brought the crowd to our group. Yeah, I think the support is pretty cool and I kind of learned their motto like Woo Pig Sooie now. Now I'm into it.
Q. You were paired with Stacy earlier this week you mentioned .you've been paired with her a little bit this year. Can you talk about her influence on you?
LYDIA KO: She's playing some awesome golf. She's I think one of the most consistent players out on the tour right now. She's having consistent Top 10s like Michelle and I think it's great that we're playing in her hometown, and the best thing is she's World No. 1 and they're proud to say it.
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 11, -11
Q. Cristie, you tied for second finish. How are you feeling right now?
CRISTIE KERR: At this point I had my chances and just couldn't take advantage of it.
Q. What about coming back today, how were course conditions with the rain last night?
CRISTIE KERR: Pretty wet, pretty wet.
Q. Do you feel like it affected you at all?
CRISTIE KERR: No. I mean, I had my chances. I just didn't hit a good wedge shot ‑‑ I actually didn't hit a couple good wedge shots today and you've got to get the ball to the hole if you want it to go in, so I just left a couple short coming in.
Q. You came in first thing this morning and got yourself in good position, got up there and really carried it most of the day. Where do you think you went wrong?
CRISTIE KERR: It didn't go wrong, it just didn't go right enough, okay? That's it.
Q. Did it feel like everything was good other than that?
CRISTIE KERR: Yep, um‑hmm.
Q. A couple wedges?
CRISTIE KERR: Couple wedges, I could have hit a couple closer, okay, and just could have hit a couple putts with better speed, that's it.
Angela Stanford, Rolex Rankings No. 17
Q. We're here with Angela Stanford. Another great round out there, good finish. Can you take us through a little bit of the day?
ANGELA STANFORD: It was very steady, so that was good. I hit it good all week, and more importantly I was putting well. I think it's more fun when you putt good. So 13 and 14 I've had a tough time with for a long time, so they got me again, but it was a good week.
Q. Do you come away from this feeling really good about your performance?
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah, yeah, it's nice to get a boost of confidence and have a week off and head to the British.
Q. You had a good finish here in 2009, right, playoff hole? How does this feel compared to that? I know it wasn't a playoff.
ANGELA STANFORD: A little let down, but I love this place. I love the community, the sponsors, Walmart, P&G, Pinnacle. I mean, the whole place embraces us and it's awesome, so it's a good week.