Lewis relishes becoming part of St. Andrews history

By Randall MellJuly 8, 2014, 9:51 pm

Stacy Lewis’ 5-iron shot fell out of the heavens with a thump so glorious her swing coach could feel it halfway around the world.

Joe Hallett was visiting friends in St. Louis when Lewis carved her brilliant shot at the Road Hole through more than buffeting winds at St. Andrews when she won the Ricoh Women’s British Open last year. Riveted to a television, Hallet relished seeing his player work a shot through air as thick with history as there is in golf. He saw her hit one of the greatest shots ever played in a major championship.

Hallett couldn’t contain his joy when Lewis’ little draw bounded to within 3 feet at No. 17 in that iconic setting at the home of golf.

“I leaped a lot higher than Phil Mickelson did when he made that putt to win the Masters,” Hallett cracked. “I’m sure the people living above my friends could hear me yell and the people living downstairs could hear the thud of my feet coming down after I leaped. It was a great shot.”

It was the greatest shot of Lewis’ young golfing life as it would set up her dreamy birdie-birdie finish and second major championship title.

“The 5-iron is the best shot of my career,” Lewis told GolfChannel.com. “That shot and the putt on 17 at Kraft are my two most memorable. The putt was probably more important, just because of it being my first win, and what it has now led to. The 5-iron shot will be a shot I will remember for the rest of my career.”

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The putt Lewis is referring to was the big bending 20-foot birdie at the 71st hole of the Kraft Nabisco Championship three years ago, when she chased down Yani Tseng to make her first LPGA title a major. Her 5-iron at St. Andrews last summer helped her chase down Na Yeon Choi and join Lorena Ochoa as the only players to win the Women’s British Open at St. Andrews.

“The best part of winning at St Andrews was becoming a part of their history,” Lewis said.

Lewis, the Rolex world No. 1, will tee it up at Royal Birkdale this week looking to win her fourth title of the year. Michelle Wie, who has become a friend to Lewis, says there’s a fire driving Lewis every time she tees it up.

“I think she's really motivated,” Wie said. “When I see Stacy, even if she finished fourth, she's still really motivated. She's pissed off that she was fourth place, and I really admire that. Her work ethic is just unbelievable. It definitely inspires me to work harder, every time I see her in the gym, every time I see her on the golf course.”

Lewis used that fire to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2013.

Three shots down to Choi with six holes to go, Lewis kept pressing. She made her big move at the Road Hole, where she was two shots down standing on the 17th tee box. That’s where she striped a tough drive into the fairway, 189 yards from the hole. The wind there was blowing briskly from right to left, and there was a delay waiting for the green to clear, giving her plenty of time to talk over the shot with her caddie, Travis Wilson.

“I’m not really sure what I was thinking before, we were both pretty relaxed,” Lewis said. “We just talked about the shot like we normally do, but the number was perfect for the shot type that it required. I have this shot, I call my flat shot, where I’m trying to swing shorter and flatter, so the ball comes off lower, and with less spin. And when we talked through the yardage and how we needed the ball to react, I told Travis it’s the flat 5 and he said `That’s perfect.’”

The swing was perfect, with her shot landing just at the front of the green and bounding to 3 feet. With Choi making bogey behind her, a two-shot swing rode on Lewis making the birdie putt.

“At the time I wasn’t thinking about winning the tournament, I just was trying to post a number, because I knew I needed some help from the girls behind me,” Lewis said. “The hardest part of that shot is the small area you have in front of that green to run it up. There’s just such a small margin for error. I picked a shot that if I hit good, it would get up on front of the green somewhere, and if I missed it, I would have a chip from short of the green. But, I honestly felt very relaxed over the shot. I was more nervous over the putt. The putt had a ton of break, and I didn’t want to miss it after hitting such a great shot in.”

Lewis played the rest of the year with that 5-iron, a Mizuno JPX 825 Pro, but it is retired today, stored away at her South Florida home with all the putters she keeps from her victories.

“I will end up getting rid of the rest of the set of irons, eventually, but the 5-iron will be something I will keep for the rest of my life,” Lewis said. “That club is important to me because it allowed me to become a part of history. I did something that only one other female golfer has done at the home of golf. Anyone that knows me knows that I love the history of the game and have so much respect for all those that paved the way for me to play, and now it’s really cool to think that I am a part of that history and paving the way for future generations.”

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Watson back in top 40 after OWGR free fall

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Bubba Watson ended his free fall in the Official World Golf Ranking with a two-shot victory Sunday at the Genesis Open.

Watson, a fixture in the top 10 in the world as recently as 13 months ago, had dropped all the way to 117th after a 2017 season in which he struggled with poor form, illness and desire.

After his third career win at Riviera, he is up to 40th.

Kevin Na rose from 95th to 65th after tying for second in Los Angeles, while Tony Finau jumped from 41st to 33rd.

Tiger Woods actually improved in the world ranking, from No. 550 to No. 544, despite a missed cut at the Genesis Open.

On the European Tour, Joost Luiten surged from 90th to 68th after his victory in Oman.

The top 10 in the world remained unchanged as the PGA Tour heads into the Florida swing: Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy.

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Bubba catapults, Phil creeps up in Ryder Cup standings

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 1:21 pm

Bubba Watson was an assistant on the 2016 Ryder Cup team. He doesn’t want to be driving a cart in Paris.

Watson, thanks to his victory in the Genesis Open, jumped from 60th to 10th in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings. The top eight after the PGA Championship qualify automatically for this year’s edition at Le Golf National in France.

Phil Mickelson moved up one spot to 11th after tying for sixth at Riviera Country Club.

Players will receive one point per dollar earned in regular events this year, with 1.5 points per dollar in majors and two points per dollar for winning a major. Here's a look at the current U.S. standings:

1. Dustin Johnson

2. Brooks Koepka

3. Justin Thomas

4. Jordan Spieth

5. Matt Kuchar

6. Brian Harman

7. Gary Woodland

8. Rickie Fowler


9. Chez Reavie

10. Bubba Watson

11. Phil Mickelson

12. Patrick Reed

On the European side, the top four players from the Ryder Cup points list will be joined by the top four qualifiers from the world points list, with captain Thomas Bjorn making four additional selections. Here's a look at the current top names:

Ryder Cup Points

1. Justin Rose

2. Tyrrell Hatton

3. Ross Fisher

4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Tommy Fleetwood

3. Sergio Garcia

4. Rory McIlroy

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Genesis Open purse payout: Bubba makes bank

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 1:03 pm

Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open for a third time on Sunday, moving his career PGA Tour win total to 10. Here's a look at how the purse paid out at Riviera Country Club.

1 Bubba Watson -12 $1,296,000
T2 Kevin Na -10 $633,600
T2 Tony Finau -10 $633,600
T4 Scott Stallings -9 $316,800
T4 Patrick Cantlay -9 $316,800
T6 Adam Hadwin -8 $241,200
T6 Phil Mickelson -8 $241,200
T6 Cameron Smith -8 $241,200
T9 Jordan Spieth -7 $180,000
T9 Martin Laird -7 $180,000
T9 Xander Schauffele -7 $180,000
T9 Ryan Moore -7 $180,000
T9 Justin Thomas -7 $180,000
T14 James Hahn -6 $133,200
T14 Aaron Baddeley -6 $133,200
T16 Alex Noren -4 $111,600
T16 Sung-hoon Kang -4 $111,600
T16 Dustin Johnson -4 $111,600
T16 Derek Fathauer -4 $111,600
T20 Rory McIlroy -3 $78,000
T20 Bud Cauley -3 $78,000
T20 Kevin Chappell -3 $78,000
T20 Talor Gooch -3 $78,000
T20 Jason Kokrak -3 $78,000
T20 Vaughn Taylor -3 $78,000
T26 John Huh -2 $46,996
T26 Peter Uihlein -2 $46,996
T26 Luke List -2 $46,996
T26 Rafael Cabrera Bello -2 $46,996
T26 Patrick Rodgers -2 $46,996
T26 Jamie Lovemark -2 $46,996
T26 Dominic Bozzelli -2 $46,996
T26 Matt Kuchar -2 $46,996
T26 Anirban Lahiri -2 $46,996
T26 Sam Saunders -2 $46,996
T26 Graeme McDowell -2 $46,996
T37 Branden Grace -1 $33,120
T37 Tommy Fleetwood -1 $33,120
T37 Charles Howell III -1 $33,120
T37 Luke Donald -1 $33,120
T41 Bryson DeChambeau E $24,516
T41 Troy Merritt E $24,516
T41 Kevin Streelman E $24,516
T41 Pat Perez E $24,516
T41 Charley Hoffman E $24,516
T41 Brandon Harkins E $24,516
T41 Jonas Blixt E $24,516
T41 Nick Taylor E $24,516
T49 Austin Cook 1 $17,964
T49 Brendan Steele 1 $17,964
T49 Paul Casey 1 $17,964
T49 Chad Campbell 1 $17,964
T53 Tom Hoge 2 $16,437
T53 Benjamin Silverman 2 $16,437
T53 Li HaoTong 2 $16,437
T53 Retief Goosen 2 $16,437
T53 Martin Kaymer 2 $16,437
T53 Adam Schenk 2 $16,437
T53 Adam Scott 2 $16,437
T60 Ryan Blaum 3 $15,696
T60 J.B. Holmes 3 $15,696
T60 Harold Varner, III 3 $15,696
63 Kelly Kraft 4 $15,408
T64 Padraig Harrington 5 $15,120
T64 Ryan Armour 5 $15,120
T64 Sean O'Hair 5 $15,120
67 Martin Piller 6 $14,832
T68 Thomas Pieters 7 $14,400
T68 Greg Chalmers 7 $14,400
T68 Abraham Ancer 7 $14,400
T68 Tyrone van Aswegen 7 $14,400
T68 Charl Schwartzel 7 $14,400
T73 Vijay Singh 8 $13,896
T73 Chez Reavie 8 $13,896
T75 Sang-Moon Bae 10 $13,608
T75 David Lingmerth 10 $13,608
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After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 2:39 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...

I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.

Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.

The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner

On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...

After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.

Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.

The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray

On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...

The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.

Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.

That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard

On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...

The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there.

The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell