Stacy Lewis’ dramatic final-round charge Sunday in Japan put a hopeful jolt into the American women’s game.
Coming back from seven shots back over the final 18 holes to win the Mizuno Classic, Lewis took a giant step toward becoming the first American to win the LPGA's Rolex Player of Year award since Beth Daniel in 1994.
With an 8-under-par 64, Lewis claimed her fourth LPGA victory in 2012, most in a season by an American since Paula Creamer won four in 2008. Lewis birdied the final three holes at Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club to overtake Bo-Mee Lee and win by a shot.
The victory gives Lewis a commanding lead in Player of the Year race with 214 points. She’s 58 points ahead of the Inbee Park with two events to play.
With a win worth 30 points, Park is the only player who can catch Lewis, but she would have to win both the Lorena Ochoa Invitational next week and the season-ending CME Group Titleholders to have a chance. Even with two more wins, Park would only claim the title if Lewis fails to score more than two points in those events. A 10th-place finish is worth one point. Both Park and Lewis are scheduled to play the final two tournaments of the year.
“Annika [Sorenstam] and Karrie [Webb] went on a run, and Lorena [Ochoa] went on a run,” Lewis said. “There has kind of been a dominant player I think in the past few years, and it hasn’t been a player from the United States. For me, I got tired of answering those questions about where all the American players are. That was my goal, just to break that trend.
“Beth Daniel, she was the last one to win [Player of the Year], she told me that she would love for me to win that award so they can stop talking about her.”