ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Her story keeps getting better.
Stacy Lewis closed brilliantly Sunday to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open at the Old Course, overcoming her every stumble on a long, grueling day to claim her second major championship. She won despite making five bogeys in the final round. She won bouncing back from every setback with a resolve that never ceases to amaze her parents, who know more than anyone how life’s blows only seem to make her stronger.
“Today was like her whole life,” Dale Lewis, Stacy’s father, said watching from the wings beneath the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews clubhouse. “It’s just like, she is never down. She always has a chance.”
Dale and Carol Lewis, Stacy’s parents, have a point of reference that will forever frame their daughter’s improbable rise in the women’s game. They will always remember Stacy coming out of surgery 10 years ago. They’ll always remember the day a doctor cut under her ribs, deflated her left lung and moved her heart’s aorta to fix a rod and five screws on to her backbone to correct the ravages of scoliosis.
They weren’t sure she would ever play golf again after that surgery, let alone win the Kraft Nabisco Championship for her first major two years ago, then become the first American in nearly 20 years to win the LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award last year and then rise to No. 1 in the Rolex world rankings this year.
“It is unbelievable,” Dale said. “She does something you think is so great, and she keeps topping it.”
Lewis, 28, called winning the Women’s British Open the greatest triumph of her career.
She won it with a birdie-birdie finish nobody saw coming, not even Lewis. She just wanted to make par at the difficult road hole, the 17th, but then she hit what might be the best shot of her life. She hit what has to rank among the best shots in major championship history.
Lewis carved a 5-iron from 189 yards through a heavy wind to 3 feet.
“I hit the perfect golf shot,” Lewis said. “It’s one of those shots you see in your head, but you don’t really ever pull it off.”
Lewis was two shots behind Na Yeon Choi when she walked to the birdie putt there.
“I was like, 'Alright, I have to make this putt,’” Lewis said. “Somehow, this putt was going to go in. The shot was so good.”
It was just the fifth birdie at the road hole in the final round, just the 18th there all week.
At the 18th, Lewis created more terrific theater. After launching a long drive just short of the Valley of Sin in front of the 18th green, Lewis wasn’t sure whether to chip through the Valley of Sin or putt through it.
Her caddie, Travis Wilson, handed her the putter.
“As soon as he felt confident with the putter, it made me even more confident in it,” Lewis said. “I think that was the only shot you could get it somewhat close.”
Lewis ran her putt in and through the corner of the Valley of Sin, running it 25 feet past the hole.
Lewis sent a roar through the city of St. Andrews holing that putt.
“It’s just amazing, with the history here, it’s just totally amazing,” Wilson said with Lewis waiting to accept her trophy.
It was a win for all the American women in golf. Lewis ended a USA drought in the majors, a stretch of 10 consecutive majors without an American winning. It’s the longest such spell in the history of women’s golf.
“I’m pretty excited about that,” Lewis said. “Every major, we get asked about it, and it definitely gets old.”
Lewis had good feelings coming to St. Andrews. She went 5-0 there helping the Americans win the Curtis Cup there in ‘08. She won the match that clinched the cup. She stayed with her family at the Dunvegan Hotel near the 18th hole of the Old Course. It’s the same hotel Lorena Ochoa stayed at when she won the first Women’s British Open played at St. Andrews in 2007.
“When we came here for the Curtis Cup, we got off the plane, and it was raining sideways, and we all put on our rain gear and just walked around,” Lewis said. “Instantly, I fell in love with it. I think it’s more the history of it than anything, just knowing all the great champions that have played here.”
Add Lewis to those names.