Lewis relishes becoming part of St. Andrews history

By Randall MellJuly 8, 2014, 9:51 pm

Stacy Lewis’ 5-iron shot fell out of the heavens with a thump so glorious her swing coach could feel it halfway around the world.

Joe Hallett was visiting friends in St. Louis when Lewis carved her brilliant shot at the Road Hole through more than buffeting winds at St. Andrews when she won the Ricoh Women’s British Open last year. Riveted to a television, Hallet relished seeing his player work a shot through air as thick with history as there is in golf. He saw her hit one of the greatest shots ever played in a major championship.

Hallett couldn’t contain his joy when Lewis’ little draw bounded to within 3 feet at No. 17 in that iconic setting at the home of golf.

“I leaped a lot higher than Phil Mickelson did when he made that putt to win the Masters,” Hallett cracked. “I’m sure the people living above my friends could hear me yell and the people living downstairs could hear the thud of my feet coming down after I leaped. It was a great shot.”

It was the greatest shot of Lewis’ young golfing life as it would set up her dreamy birdie-birdie finish and second major championship title.

“The 5-iron is the best shot of my career,” Lewis told GolfChannel.com. “That shot and the putt on 17 at Kraft are my two most memorable. The putt was probably more important, just because of it being my first win, and what it has now led to. The 5-iron shot will be a shot I will remember for the rest of my career.”

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The putt Lewis is referring to was the big bending 20-foot birdie at the 71st hole of the Kraft Nabisco Championship three years ago, when she chased down Yani Tseng to make her first LPGA title a major. Her 5-iron at St. Andrews last summer helped her chase down Na Yeon Choi and join Lorena Ochoa as the only players to win the Women’s British Open at St. Andrews.

“The best part of winning at St Andrews was becoming a part of their history,” Lewis said.

Lewis, the Rolex world No. 1, will tee it up at Royal Birkdale this week looking to win her fourth title of the year. Michelle Wie, who has become a friend to Lewis, says there’s a fire driving Lewis every time she tees it up.

“I think she's really motivated,” Wie said. “When I see Stacy, even if she finished fourth, she's still really motivated. She's pissed off that she was fourth place, and I really admire that. Her work ethic is just unbelievable. It definitely inspires me to work harder, every time I see her in the gym, every time I see her on the golf course.”

Lewis used that fire to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2013.

Three shots down to Choi with six holes to go, Lewis kept pressing. She made her big move at the Road Hole, where she was two shots down standing on the 17th tee box. That’s where she striped a tough drive into the fairway, 189 yards from the hole. The wind there was blowing briskly from right to left, and there was a delay waiting for the green to clear, giving her plenty of time to talk over the shot with her caddie, Travis Wilson.

“I’m not really sure what I was thinking before, we were both pretty relaxed,” Lewis said. “We just talked about the shot like we normally do, but the number was perfect for the shot type that it required. I have this shot, I call my flat shot, where I’m trying to swing shorter and flatter, so the ball comes off lower, and with less spin. And when we talked through the yardage and how we needed the ball to react, I told Travis it’s the flat 5 and he said `That’s perfect.’”

The swing was perfect, with her shot landing just at the front of the green and bounding to 3 feet. With Choi making bogey behind her, a two-shot swing rode on Lewis making the birdie putt.

“At the time I wasn’t thinking about winning the tournament, I just was trying to post a number, because I knew I needed some help from the girls behind me,” Lewis said. “The hardest part of that shot is the small area you have in front of that green to run it up. There’s just such a small margin for error. I picked a shot that if I hit good, it would get up on front of the green somewhere, and if I missed it, I would have a chip from short of the green. But, I honestly felt very relaxed over the shot. I was more nervous over the putt. The putt had a ton of break, and I didn’t want to miss it after hitting such a great shot in.”

Lewis played the rest of the year with that 5-iron, a Mizuno JPX 825 Pro, but it is retired today, stored away at her South Florida home with all the putters she keeps from her victories.

“I will end up getting rid of the rest of the set of irons, eventually, but the 5-iron will be something I will keep for the rest of my life,” Lewis said. “That club is important to me because it allowed me to become a part of history. I did something that only one other female golfer has done at the home of golf. Anyone that knows me knows that I love the history of the game and have so much respect for all those that paved the way for me to play, and now it’s really cool to think that I am a part of that history and paving the way for future generations.”

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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  

Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open

Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)

Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

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"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.