ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Former University of Arkansas women's golfer Stacy Lewis fired an even par 72 in the final round of the Ricoh Women's British Open moving into lead on Sunday. Lewis hung on to win despite a challenge by Na Yeon Choi who finished second.
Lewis, of The Woodlands, Texas, was three-back much of the day but back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18 combined with bogeys by the leader, helped Lewy move up the leaderboard. Lewis shot 67-72-69-72=280 for the tournament.
"I felt so comfortable all week," Lewis said. "To finish the way I did was just awesome. I love this place. I love the history that surrounds it. I putted well and stayed with it all week. Travis (her caddie) and I played three practice rounds and I felt really prepared this week."
Choi had the lead until Leiws' strong finish. Choi had to birdie the final two holes of her round to pass Lewis. She shot par on the 17th and tried to eagle the 18th but was unable to win or force a playoff with Lewis.
Strong winds forced players off the course in Saturday's round and Lewis' day began with a 4 a.m. alarm on Sunday as she had to finish the previous days play. She played 36 holes on Sunday as she moved into the lead on the final hole.
Lewis refused an interview with ESPN2 instead hitting the putting green to practice in case of a playoff. She came off the course with her nearest competitor four holes behind her.
With the Lewis win, she and former Razorback John Daly will have both with the British Open. The Lewis victory is the first major win for her since the 2011 Kraft Nabisco and she is only the second American woman to win this event.
Lewis' win ends a 10-event drought for Americans in LPGA Majors. She is the only American who has won more than one major in the last five years.
Lewis' former coach and current Razorback head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor and husband Adam were on hand in Scotland this week. Lewis came off the course on 18 and hugged Estes-Taylor after her round.
Lewis has played the Old Course at St. Andrews before becoming the first player to go 5-0 in Curtis Cup play in
Lewis is a member of the 2013 Solheim Cup beginning Aug. 12, at the Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo. Lewis entered the week with 857 points leading the field.
THROUGH THREE ROUNDS
ST ANDREWS, Scotland – Stacy Lewis played the Old Course back to front, but is in contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Conventional wisdom says you make your score on the Old Course’s outward half and try not to lose it on the homeward nine. Lewis didn’t follow that advice but still compiled a 5-under 67.
Lewis went to the turn in level-par 36 and was feeling a little frustrated. She soon eased those frustrations with a homeward 5-under-par 31 thanks to five birdies and no bogeys, including a four-birdie stretch in five holes
“I kind of got off to a frustrating start,” Lewis said. “I birdied the first but then played 1-over par the rest of the front nine, which is the nine you need to score on. With the hole locations today, the front was definitely playing easiest. I just didn’t take advantage of it, so I was a little frustrated going into the back nine.”
The 28-year-old began the back nine with birdies at Nos. 11 and 12 before adding further birdies at 14, 15 and 18. She was fortunate on 15, though. She hit a fat approach shot but chipped in from 15 yards short of the green.
“It all kind of turned on 11,” she said. “I hit a great shot in there to 5 or six 6 and made that for birdie and then from there I played solid. I got more comfortable with my putter, made a couple of good putts for par. To come away shooting 5 under on the back nine on this golf course, I don’t care if it’s calm or if it’s windy, it’s a good score.”
Lewis teed off in the company of Karrie Webb and Mika Miyazato at 6:41 a.m. That meant a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call, the earliest Lewis has ever had to get up for a round of golf.
That early tee time might prove to be an advantage at the end of the week. The weather is such a huge factor in links golf that getting the right side of the draw in any Open Championship in the British Isles can be critical. Lewis was able to complete her round before the poor weather that is expected to blow in for the later starters.
“This course and the way the weather is supposed to be today, the early tee time is definitely what you wanted. So I wasn’t going to be complain about waking up a little bit earlier.”
Lewis might have grown up in The Woodlands, Texas, but she feels right at home on the Old Course. She played the Curtis Cup over the Old Course in 2008, compiling a 5-0 record to help the United States to a 13-7 victory.
“I love this course. I loved it when I played Curtis Cup here. I feel so comfortable here. It’s a much different feeling to any other British Open I’ve ever played because I know the golf course.
“Usually you go to an Open and you have no clue where all the bunkers are and things like that.”
Scotland only has two players in this field – Catriona Matthew and Carly Booth. Maybe Scottish fans can claim Lewis for their own. She’s practically a homer.
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