Notes In the shadow of Wie Lewis shines


LPGA Tour _newDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ' While hundreds of people followed Michelle Wie on LPGA Internationals Legends Course, little ole Stacy Lewis and her support staff of one were quietly putting together an impressive round on the adjacent Champions Course.
Although Wie and Lewis both shot 69 on different courses at the same venue, it seemed as if they were playing worlds apart Wednesday at the final stage of LPGA Q-School.
But that suits Lewis just fine, the Texas native loves living under the proverbial radar.
Im not here with a bunch of people, Lewis said. I dont need a lot of people. I dont need all the attention. Id much rather just go about my business.
Lewis, 23, is here with only Shauna Estes-Taylor on the bag. Estes-Taylor was Lewis coach at the University of Arkansas and provides a friendly face during the long, tenuous 90-hole marathon. Lewis father, Dale, is on his way from Texas and supposed to be on hand to watch his daughter play the final four rounds.
The first-round 69 was a success, especially since Lewis came to the chilly Sunshine State with hopes of winning. Simply finishing in the top-20 to earn an LPGA card for 2009 is not sufficient for this fierce competitor.
If you go out there for top 20 you limit yourself a little bit, she says.
She has some work to do if shes to claim medalist honors here this week. The 3-under 69 is five shots behind leader Shiho Oyama, but Lewis will tackle the Legends Course Thursday, a place where she shot 66 in the windy final-round of the 2007 NCAA Championship to win.
If Lewis name isnt familiar from the NCAA Championship victory it could be for myriad reasons. For starters, her medical issues have been well-documented. She was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11 and wore a back brace under her clothes until she graduated from high school. When she stopped growing at age 18, she underwent a six-hour surgery to put a steel rod in her back, then, ultimately went on to win 12 college tournaments over the next four years.
As an amateur, she led after 18 holes at the rain-shortened LPGA NW Arkansas Championship in 2007 but the win wasnt official because the event didnt last 36 holes. Earlier in the year she was fifth at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
This year has brought more success to Lewis. She played in seven LPGA events and recorded a third-place tie at the U.S. Womens Open where she was in serious contention until the final nine holes. The Open accomplishment, more than perhaps anything else, proved to Lewis that she belongs among the womens elite players.
I know I can compete and Ive competed with the best players in the world and almost won and most of those players arent even here, Lewis said. Its a different mindset now.
A winning mindset.
SONGS SING NEW TUNE: Twins Aree and Naree Song are all grown up at the young age of 22. The duo dominated junior golf about eight years ago and came to the LPGA with all the expectations you could heap on teenagers being branded the next cant-miss kids.
There was some success early, if you consider top-10s successful for girls who were used to winning anything they ever played. Aree nearly won the 2004 Kraft Nabisco Championship as a 17-year-old when she made eagle on the 72nd hole. But Grace Park made birdie and won by a shot. Naree had varying success as well but nothing too spectacular.
After a hiatus over the past year both are looking to make comebacks in 2009 for altogether different reasons.
Aree received a medical exemption for 2008 and will have full status for next year. She was diagnosed with severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome and adrenal insufficieny, which made it difficult to focus on golf. So she took the year off to take care of her health and spent time volunteering with Girls and Boys Clubs and other childrens organizations in the Central Florida area.
Golf is important but its not everything, Aree said. There are many other things that I enjoy doing.
Naree was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and decided to take time away from the tour to get her health in order. She also spent time as a swing coach for the IMG Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla., among other various things.
It was all good experience, Naree said.
Aree was at Q-School Wednesday following Naree, who will need to finish in the top 20 after 90 holes to have enough status to join her sister in Hawaii to begin the 2009 LPGA campaign. Naree shot a first-round 75.
Im trying to put weight on and get fit, which is not a bad problem to have, Aree said. Itll be a process.
Said Naree: I just need to get through this week.
SHORT SHOTS: Fashion model Anna Rawson, who led after the first round of the Bell Micro Classic in September, shot 71. The Australian has been likened to Natalie Gulbis in that she isnt afraid to strike a pose for a photo shoot. . . . Big Break Kaanapali champion Kim Welch shot 73 and Big Break V champion Ashley Prange shot 77.

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