STORY CREDIT LPGA.COM
HSBC Women’s Champions 2013 Sentosa Golf Club, The Serapong Course Singapore Final-round Notes and Interviews March 3, 2013
Stacy Lewis -15, Rolex Rankings No. 4 Na Yeon Choi -14, Rolex Rankings No. 2 Paula Creamer -13, Rolex Rankings No. 13
2012 Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) held on tight for her first victory of the 2013 season, making par on the 18th hole to capture a one-shot victory over Rolex Rankings No. 2 Na Yeon Choi (@nychoi87) at the HSBC Women’s Champions. Lewis watched a three-shot lead shrink over her final few ones to just one as she headed to the 18th hole at Sentosa Golf Club’s The Serapong Course after bogeys on 15 and 17. But the player known for her grit and determination while battling scoliosis during her youth showed no signs of letting her nerves get the best of her on the final hole.
After watching both of her playing partners hit their drives on 18 with the aid of a down wind, Lewis belted a driver down the middle of the fairway on 18. She then hit a hybrid to the back of the green in two, giving herself a lengthy putt for eagle. She lagged her putt down to about 10 feet for birdie while Choi had a 12-foot birdie putt that could have potentially forced a playoff if Lewis had missed. Choi just slid her birdie putt by before Lewis missed hers and was left with a foot-and-a-half putt for par to win.
"All week, I played it as a three-shot hole, laying back short of the bunker and then laying up from there," Lewis said of the 18th. "And I saw where Paula reamer hit her drive past the bunker and I turned to my caddie, and we both at the same time said driver, and I let it rip and that thing got so far down there. I think I was actually in between a 4-iron and a hybrid. So we erred on the long side and hit hybrid up on the green, and I thought I made my second putt, but just to have an inside ten feet for birdie, that’s all I was asking for."
Lewis felt some heat her playing group right away on Sunday, as Rolex Rankings No. 13 Paula Creamer (@ThePCreamer) birdied back-to-back holes on No. 3 and 4 to pull within a shot early. But Lewis looked like she might have taken control just before the turn when she nearly holed out her second shot on the par-5 7th hole. Despite the just missed albatross, Lewis had a tap-in for eagle that gave her a two-shot lead.
A birdie by Lewis on the ninth then moved her to 17-under-par and stretched it to a three-shot lead before some late troubles made the gap much closer. It was quite a battle down the stretch between three of the top players in the world in their hunt to be crowned the "Champion of Champions" in Singapore and Lewis certainly looked a little worn out after capturing her sixth career victory on the LPGA Tour.
"The last four or five holes, I was pretty nervous, I’m not going to lie," Lewis said. "That golf course is hard and it can jump up and get you at any second, and to have to play with two great players on your tail all day, and they played unbelievable, and none of us really we just couldn’t get any putts to fall on the back nine. I don’t know what it was. Edges just seemed a little bit tighter. Paula had a couple on the edge.
"I don’t know, I just played hard and put my head down and tried to make as many putts as I could, and fortunately I came away with the win."
Inching Closer: The race for the top spot in the Rolex Rankings is getting closer, helped by the fact that this week it was Rolex Rankings No. 2 Na Yeon Choi and No. 4 Stacy Lewis battling for the victory.
With her win, Lewis is projected to move back into the No. 3 spot in the Rolex Rankings. But both she and Choi are starting to see Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng within reach. Tseng’s lead appears that it could be less than a point when the rankings are released on Monday. That’s quite a change from 11 months ago when Tseng’s lead was a little more than nine points over then-No. 2 Na Yeon Choi.
"I think this is more fun than like only one player play well, like clear-cut, because there is not really a clear-cut No. 1 right now," said Choi. "I think everybody, you know, is a good competitor with each other and motivate each other, and if someone wins, and I feel like, oh, I need to win next week, that kind of motivates. So, I feel like very excited."