Amateur Wins Rain-Shortened LPGA Event

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LPGA NW Arkansas ChampionshipROGERS, Ark. -- Amateur Stacy Lewis finished atop the leaderboard at the rain-shortened LPGA NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday, when Jin Young Pak finished a three-day first round two strokes behind.
 
The LPGA Tour shortened the event from 54 holes to 18, setting up a bizarre finish on a nearly empty course at Pinnacle Country Club. Only 32 players hadn't finished when play resumed Sunday, and the final day was closed to the public.
 
Lewis, the NCAA champion, isn't considered an official winner because the tournament did not last at least 36 holes.
 
'From the LPGA's standpoint, this is not a tournament,' said Doug Brecht, the LPGA's vice president of rules and officials. 'It's extremely unfortunate, obviously, for a lot of different reasons. ... It's obviously not official, and we just don't consider it an event at all.'
 
The tournament began 4 1/2 hours late Friday, and play was suspended again around 11 a.m. Saturday. Rain wasn't a problem Sunday morning, and the sun even came out from behind the clouds -- but the LPGA had already decided Saturday the event would end after one round.
 
Lewis, a senior at the nearby University of Arkansas, finished the first round at 7-under 65 Saturday. She did receive a trophy Sunday, but it didn't feel like much of a victory.
 
'Yesterday was just a roller coaster of emotions,' Lewis said. 'Going from playing my best competitive round ever to -- it kind of felt like a knife in your heart. You don't get a chance to win.'
 
Pak was the only player Sunday with a reasonable chance to catch Lewis -- she entered the day at 5 under with four holes to play. She birdied No. 7 -- her 16th hole -- but a bogey on No. 8 dropped her two strokes behind again.
 
Lewis stood near the clubhouse, a short distance from the green at No. 9. As Pak approached on her final hole, Lewis said she hadn't been following the South Korean's progress. Nobody was walking with the group holding a scoreboard.
 
Tournament organizers cited dangerous course conditions caused by heavy rain as a reason for shortening the event and keeping fans away Sunday. The course appeared quite soggy Sunday, but the biggest problems from the previous day -- flooding and large puddles of standing water -- had mostly been taken care of.
 
No amateur has won an LPGA Tour event since JoAnne Carner in 1969.
 

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