OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Rolex world No. 1 Stacy Lewis is a feel player, but she’s quite analytical in evaluating the nature of the game and what’s required to excel.
With the Americans in a resurgent mode on tour, all their winning didn’t translate into yet another team event at this week’s International Crown. After back-to-back Solheim Cup losses, now the Americans are dealing with this early exit from the game’s newest team event.
The Americans were eliminated from the International Crown Saturday by Korea in a playoff for the fifth and final berth into Sunday singles. Lewis, however, came back out to the course on Sunday to watch and assist Juli Inkster, who’s calling the action as a course reporter for Golf Channel, with Lewis possibly as Inkster’s cart driver.
With almost 24 hours to analyze what happened to the Americans this week, Lewis was asked Sunday what the Americans have learned in back-to-back losses. She said Saturday ultimately came down to putting. She says these team events also come down to a certain intangible.
“It’s all about toughness,” Lewis said. “That’s what we’ve learned, and that’s what we wanted to show the fans here this week.”
In a Morning Drive appearance with Golf Channel reporter Scott Rude, Lewis explained how the decision to send out Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson for the sudden-death playoff was made.
Though Lewis is the No. 1 player in the world, she was coming off a tough loss with Paula Creamer to Thailand in the day’s last match. Kerr and Thompson had beaten Thailand handily in the next-to-last match. The U.S. team had five minutes after the loss to submit their pairing for the fourball playoff. With no captain for this format, the team huddled.
“My gut thought was to send Cristie and Lexi out,” Lewis said. “They won both their matches early the last two days. Paula and I were struggling. We were tired, and we just lost a really hard match. I thought that with momentum, with Cristie being fired up and ready to go, with Lexi’s length on 16, it made sense. I wanted to do what was best for the team. Yeah, Paula and I wanted to be out there, but it was best for the team.”
Lewis told Rude that her No. 1 ranking wasn’t a factor in the choice.
“I was pretty deflated coming off that match, and as quick as the turnaround was, I think it would have been really hard for Paula and I to get ready to play again,” Lewis said. “Cristie was so fired up and so excited. She went running to the range. Lexi, with her length, she hit 4-iron into that green. It made so much sense, there are no regrets.”
Lewis was asked why the Americans are struggling in team events.
“I don’t know how you explain it,” Lewis said. “It’s one week. It’s match play, and with match play, a lot can happen. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the rankings. Lexi’s still won a major this year, I’ve still won three times, Paula’s won, Cristie’s still playing some great golf. It doesn’t change any of that. We just have to figure this out in team play. It’s just making some key putts. If we can make some key putts, we’ll be back on track in these team events.”
Lewis will look back and remember key putts.
“It came down to one putt for any one of us,” Lewis said. “If Yani [Tseng] doesn’t make that putt on us at 18 on Thursday, or if Paula and I make a putting coming in yesterday, we are playing today.”
Lewis said the team didn’t go their own ways after the loss. They got together at the team hotel and ate P.F. Chang’s takeout in a team dinner.
“Yeah, we were disappointed, but we had so much fun this week,” Lewis said. “Everybody got along so well.”