A life-altering summer run begins in earnest this week for Stacy Lewis.
A big three-month run is ahead for all the top players in women’s golf, but there are more than three major championships and the Olympics among the marquee events on Lewis’ schedule over the next 12 weeks. She’s getting married, with the wedding planned Aug. 6, the week after the Ricoh Women’s British Open and 11 days before the start of the Olympic women’s golf competition.
“It's been a challenge,” Lewis said in a pre-tournament news conference Wednesday at the ShopRite Classic. “It's been a lot more than I thought it was going to be. I kind of handed the reins to my mom and said, `Do what you want to do,’ but there's still a lot that I have to do and that we need to take care of.”
Lewis is marrying Gerrod Chadwell, the University of Houston women’s golf coach. She is scheduled to play eight of the nine LPGA events leading up to their wedding.
“The golf has honestly been good, because I think it's my time to get away from all of that and not have to worry about it,” Lewis said. “But we're kind of at the place with the wedding where a lot of stuff is done, which is good, because now I'm heading into the busiest time, and now it's just little stuff.
“I'm looking forward to September, I can tell you that.”
Why is Lewis scheduling her wedding in the middle of such a rigorous run of big events? Her answer says a lot about her changing priorities.
“Some people might think, `Why isn't she waiting until after the Olympics and all that stuff is over?’” Lewis said. “I've waited for this for a long time, and I've wanted this for a long time, and just because of some golf tournaments I'm not going to put my life on hold. I've done that enough, and it's time to do something for myself that I've wanted, and that's what we're going to do.”
At the ANA Inspiration in April, Lewis opened up about her changing priorities, how she’s learning to balance the importance of her personal life with her career.
“The biggest thing is I’ve got somebody in my life that’s more important than any golf tournament I’ll ever play in, or any tournament I’ll ever win, and I honestly never thought I would be up here saying that,” Lewis said at Mission Hills. “It’s a little bit strange to me, and that’s one thing I’m trying to figure out right now.”
Lewis opened the year No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. The former world No. 1 slipped a spot to No. 5 last week and another spot to No. 6 this week. She said at the ANA that in learning to juggle priorities, a return to No. 1 might no longer be a pressing goal, because of the scheduling and week-to-week sacrifices that it takes. She said winning majors, however, would remain her professional focus.
Lewis is on friendly turf this week outside Atlantic City, N.J., looking for her first victory in almost two years. She won at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in 2012 and ‘14. She and world No. 4 Brooke Henderson are the only players among the top 10 in the world rankings who will tee it up in Friday’s start of the 54-hole event.
Since last winning at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in the summer of 2014, Lewis has been knocking hard on the door to her 12th LPGA title. She has logged 10 second-place finishes since that last victory. There couldn’t be a better time to mount a hot run with next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship starting the summer’s major run.
All those close calls, Lewis says, hasn’t deterred her.
“If you asked me a year ago, yes, it was driving me crazy, but I've kind of come to terms with it, that I've finished second a bunch but I've played some good golf,” Lewis said. “It's not like I haven't played well. Sometimes, you kind of take advantage of the situation. I was rolling there for so long, I didn't have to work that hard. It was just things were happening, and I was playing good, and now it's like I've been working hard and I've got to get my act together a little bit.”
Lewis isn’t having a bad year. She has two runner-up finishes this season. Her ball-striking stats are strong. She’s No. 4 in hitting greens in regulation and No. 4 in driving accuracy. She led the tour in putts per greens in regulation last year but has slipped to 24th this year. She is 10th in scoring this season.
“I like what I'm working on,” Lewis said. “I like where the game is going. It's just getting back in those last couple groups, which I've done the last few weeks and getting comfortable there again. I'm starting to trust the swing under pressure. Alabama (the Yokohama Tire Classic) was big because I hit some shots there down the stretch that I needed to hit. Things just didn't quite work out, but being able to hit the shots under pressure is what's going to get that win.”