Lewis makes pain her ally on way to landmark win

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2013, 1:35 am

PHOENIX – Stacy Lewis turned heartache into something to marvel over again.

She made pain her ally yet again.

Lewis won the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup on Sunday to seize the Rolex world No. 1 ranking with the odds heavily stacked against her. She won closing fiercely, scorching Wildfire Golf Club with an 8-under-par 64 to come from four shots back and beat Ai Miyazato in the final round.

This victory embodied what makes the folks around Lewis appreciate her so much.

The little girl who inspired family pursuing an unlikely golf dream was at it again here. The little girl who persevered after doctors surgically attached a metal rod and five screws to her spine to remedy the ravages of scoliosis turned pain into triumph again.

When the final putt dropped Sunday, Lewis turned to her caddie, Travis Wilson, waving her index finger at him before he engulfed her in a hug.

“This was for you!” Lewis told him.


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Lewis, 28, told Wilson the same thing walking off the 16th hole, a piece of property that Lewis and Wilson will always remember for the agony and ecstasy it gave them both.

Just a day earlier, Lewis was penalized two shots after Wilson was deemed to have violated Rule 13-4 by testing the surface of a hazard when he walked into a fairway bunker. The penalty came down hard at round’s end and threatened to mar what was otherwise a brilliant third-round charge.

On the precipice of seizing No. 1, Lewis was struck with what should have been a momentum-killing blow.

Instead of starting Sunday two shots behind Miyazato, Lewis found herself in a hole four back.

Wilson was crushed Saturday evening, despondent that he put his player in such a hole. Golf was abuzz with debate over why he even ventured into the bunker, whether it was a subtle attempt to test the sand, or just an unfortunate mistake under the heat of the moment.

As Lewis hit balls Saturday night, she confided concern to swing coach Joe Hallett.

“I’m really worried about Travis,” Lewis told Hallett. “He’s taking this really hard, and he doesn’t need to.”

Hallett said Lewis set the tone for the entire team when she marched out so resolutely to the practice putting green after Saturday’s disappointment. Wilson, Hallett and Dale Lewis, Stacy’s father, were waiting there curious how Lewis would greet them.

She clapped her hands and then threw her arms in the air.

“She was wearing the biggest smile,” Hallett said. “She says, `You know what? We work our butts off every week to put ourselves in position to win, that’s where we are. What could be better? Let’s go putt and hit some 3-woods.'”

It was fitting the 16th hole would prove to be the turning point again Sunday.

Lewis virtually willed a better outcome with her resolve.

One shot down at the 16th tee, Lewis pounded a drive into another fairway bunker there. This time, she hit a pure wedge from 123 yards to 18 feet. She buried that birdie putt in a dizzying three-shot turnaround.

Miyazato made double bogey there. Her fate was sealed in a struggle to escape an errant shot into the desert. Miyazato, playing so steadily all day long, blew a pitching wedge left into the scrub brush, where she had to take an unplayable lie. She couldn’t get up and down from her drop into the desert dirt.

Lewis birdied four of the final six holes in giving a clinic on how to close.

“I was super motivated by what happened yesterday,” Lewis said. “I feel good for Travis.”

At first reluctant to speak as Lewis signed her scorecard, Wilson acknowledged the great relief the win gave him.

“It’s a huge weight,” Wilson said. “I do everything I can to help her get in the winner’s circle, and to have something weird like that happen yesterday . . . It’s the first time in 21 years that I’ve had anything like that happen. I was just devastated by it.”

Wilson clutched the flag from the 18th hole in one hand, his prize to remember this unforgettable finish. He briefly revisited his disappointment he felt standing in this same spot 24 hours earlier.

“It was a great day on the course, but the half-hour after, you go through the gamut of emotions,” Wilson said. “You’re mad, then you just have to accept it.

“Stacy just showed me the way to do it. She is like, `We will just go out there and get it done tomorrow.’”

Dale Lewis was overwhelmed yet again by his daughter’s determination to overcome obstacles in her life.

“Today, and what happened yesterday, it’s almost like that’s the way Stacy’s whole career has been,” Dale said. “Every time she gets down, she just bounces back up.”

Stacy told her father there had to be some adversity to stick with the script.

“Why should getting to No. 1 be anything different from anything else in my career?” Lewis told her father. “I’ve always got to make it extra hard.”


Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.

Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


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Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.