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Stacy Lewis’ climb to the top

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As if a simple thing like a two-stroke penalty would be enough to derail the Lewis Express at the recent RR Donnelly LPGA Founders Cup.

When you are 11 and they tell you that your spine isn’t straight, two-stroke penalties are manageable. When you undergo spinal fusion surgery to straighten your back, two-stroke penalties are a gift to the field. When you miss your freshman year of college golf at the University of Arkansas because of the surgery, two-stroke penalties are a slight hiccup along the march to the inevitable.

Stacy Lewis, history will remember, posted rounds of 68-65-68-64 for a total of 23-under 265. Her margin of victory over Ai Miyazato was three strokes. Paired with Miyazato during the final round, Lewis made up seven strokes on Sunday, including four during the stretch from Nos. 14 to 16.

History will easily forget the two-stroke penalty assessed to Lewis on Saturday, by way of her caddie, on No. 16. Lewis had forgotten about it after she left the press room that evening. The 28-year-old divulged that “in my mind, I shot a six-under par 66” during the third round, revealing precisely how focused she was on her goals each and every day.

History will show that Stacy Lewis won the Founders Cup on Sunday, that she replaced Yani Tseng as the top-ranked professional female golfer in the world and that she established herself as the pre-eminent golfer from the USA in her generation. It will not record that she demonstrated unwavering faith in her caddie and herself. That is left to us to communicate to golfers and fans yet to come.

Stacy Lewis tied for 15th place at the season-opening Australian Open. She tied for third place at the next tour event, in Thailand. Two weeks ago, she won the HSBC Women’s Champions event in Singapore. She’s on a hot streak of sorts, one that might last a year or two. There’s something about the LPGA that breeds long-term success. Ask Yani Tseng, unstoppable from 2009 to 2011.

It was appropriate that Lewis ascended to the No. 1 worldwide ranking at the Founders Cup. The FC defined the new LPGA when Mike Whan convinced the players that:

  1. They should play an event without receiving prize money;
  2. All “winnings” would be donated to charity to honor the founding members of the tour; and
  3. The event would have real prize money from year two on.

It was proper that Stacy Lewis addressed the two-stroke penalty clearly, in a finite manner. For those who missed the news, her caddie descended into a fairway bunker and was apparently observed swiveling his foot by a television viewer (Don’t get me started on those rules call-ins). After reviewing the tape with tour officials and before she signed her card, Lewis assessed herself a two-stroke penalty for testing the conditions of a hazard.

Testing the conditions of a sandy hazard is a funny thing. As a golfer takes her stance, she is allowed to dig in, essentially revealing the firmness of the sand from which she will play. For a fairway bunker shot, wherein the golfer contacts the ball first, this is a moot point. For an explosion shot, the quality of sand matters more. In Lewis’ case, about 60 yards out on a short par four, she was in the nether region of explosion versus ball-first.

A germane lesson emerges from this ordeal. In an era when referees are accosted by players and every play is subject to review ad infinitum, golf stands like a beacon for self-governance and integrity. Much as tennis players trust one another’s in and out calls, so do tournament competitors rely on the honesty and forthrightness of their fellow contestants. The golfer that intentionally skirts the rules does not last long in tournament play. The caddie that foozles the ball toward an improved situation is branded a cheat and routinely punished through dismissal.

As Lewis greeted the media on Sunday, she thanked the unknown caller for giving ample motivation to play her best and she paused to consider how far she had come from such an unpredictable place.

“People with metal in their back, how do you play golf…”

As though she had not just earned a top ranking but also assumed the mantel of authority among the players, she paused further and concluded:

“We have majors coming up, Solheim, and so much more to play for and I’m just excited about the rest of the year more than anything. I’m having a blast on the golf course, and to be No. 1 in the world, it’s what everybody out here on Tour is working for and to be that person is, I mean, I really don’t even know what to say.”

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Ronald Montesano

    Mar 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Could not agree more…not that I want the other golfers to roll over and give it away.

  2. Dave Andrews

    Mar 19, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Stacy Lewis is the best story in golf so far this year. With all that she has been through she is a classic example of determination, perseverance,and just plain guts. She definitely is worthy of the title of the best woman golfer in the world. Congrats to her!

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Tour Photo Galleries

Wedge Stamping Caviar: Have More Fun Edition

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Pop open a tin of the finest beluga, GolfWRXers… In all seriousness, it’s less jelly-like substance, more richness of intrigue than salt-cured roe at Wedge Stamping Caviar as we present to you some of the finest instances of hammer-and-stamp work on the PGA Tour.

In this initial serving, we’re mining photos from October and November at PGA Tour stops, including the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, the Cadence Bank Houston Open, and the RSM Classic.

So grab your mother-of-pearl spoon and dig in — with restraint, please.

The traditional K.I.S.S. stamping on a BV proto: first and last initial, demonstrated here by Andrew Landry. Bonus points for the bounce angle (8) stamp.

When your last name is something imposing/interesting, you’re definitely stamping it on your wedge as Cole Hammer has done here in a “University of Texas” colorway.

Simple, perfect stamping for Xuewen Luo. 

Patrick Cantlay is still rolling with a SM7. Ultimate K.I.S.S. to stick with a previous generation wedge with stamped initials. Bent loft (47 degrees) is a classy touch. 

Excellent #perspective on Kevin Roy’s 54-degree Vokey.

Anytime a custom grind wears off the loft number, it’s caviar. Lovely patina on Woodland’s Wilson, too. 

Another favorite motif: Tiny initials pattern (as demonstrated by Palmer Jackson). 

The Webb Simpson traditional. Maybe the longest-serving stamping on Tour. 

Not a stamping on Akshay Bhatia’s Jaws Raw, but we’ll serve it up anyway for reasons immediately discernible to the seasoned palate. 

 

 

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2022 RSM Classic

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GolfWRX was live this week from the RSM Classic in Sea Island, Georgia, for the last event of the 2022 calendar year.

We saw a few pros testing some 2023 prototypes — Jason Dufner in Cobra Aerojet woods — and got a look at a few potential new putters from Toulon.

We have: Eight general galleries. 12 WITBs — including some lefty love for Akshay Bhatia — and a ton of putters for your perusal.

Check out links to all our photos below!                                           

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

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Equipment

Photos from the 2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open

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GolfWRX was on site this week ahead of the 2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course.

The year is winding down, but the wraparound 2022-2023 season is just getting underway, so players are poised to do a bit of tinkering ahead of January equipment launches. To that end, we got an in-hand look at Justin Rose’s new prototype “JR” irons. We also spotted new shafts from KBS and Mitsubishi as well as new grips from SuperStroke.

Check out all of our photos below.

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

See what GolfWRXers are saying in the discussion thread.

 

 

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