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Lewis just second American to rise to world No. 1

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PHOENIX – Stacy Lewis officially became the seventh player and just the second American to hold the women's Rolex world No. 1 ranking with Monday’s release of the new rankings.

She’s the most unlikely No. 1 in men’s or women’s golf.

After growing up in a back brace and needing a metal rod and five screws surgically attached to her spine to correct the ravages of scoliosis, even Lewis was overwhelmed with the notion she is actually No. 1.

“I'm really not supposed to be here,' Lewis said. “People with metal in their back, how do you play golf? I don't know how, I don't know why I'm here. I know that there's a reason, and I know that everything happens for a reason. Every setback you have along the way, everything good that happens, it all happens for a reason.”

With her victory Sunday at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, Lewis overtook Yani Tseng, who held the No. 1 ranking for 109 consecutive weeks.

“I think Stacy thought she would get there this year, but she didn’t think it would happen that fast,” said Dale Lewis, Stacy’s father. “It’s just unbelievable.”

Standing aside the 18th green early Sunday evening at the Founders Cup, Dale repeated how his only wish for Stacy relating to golf after her surgery was that she would get to play in college.

“The bonuses just keep getting bigger,” Dale said.

Last season, Lewis became the first American in 18 years to win the LPGA Player of the Year award.

The Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings were introduced in February 2006. Annika Sorenstam held the top spot in that first release of the rankings. She stayed there for 60 consecutive weeks.

Lorena Ochoa succeeded Sorenstam as No. 1 and held the top spot for 158 consecutive weeks, the longest reign in the top spot in the history of the rankings.

Jiyai Shin overtook Ochoa on May 3, 2010. It marked the start of a musical-chair pursuit of No. 1 with Shin, Ai Miyazato and Cristie Kerr taking turns atop the ranking before Tseng took over on Feb. 14, 2011.