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Lewis is No. 1 again

Featured Stacy Lewis holds the trophy aloft after winning the 2014 ShopRite LPGA Classic. Photos by Maryann Harlow Stacy Lewis holds the trophy aloft after winning the 2014 ShopRite LPGA Classic.
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GALLOWAY _ Stacy Lewis noted that the swings of emotion between her and Christina Kim were "wild" over the last nine holes of the final round at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

"We'd hit good shots and we'd hit terrible shots," Lewis said. "It was actually a little bit up and down. It was kind of exhausting coming in."

The last emotion - exhiliration - was one Lewis, of The Woodlands, Texas, didn't mind. As a matter of fact, she hopes to experience it over and over again.

Lewis recorded her sixth birdie on the 18th hole and carded a 6-under round of 67 to claim her second title in two years on the Bay Course at the Seaview Hotel and Golf Club on Sunday, June 1.

Better yet, Lewis' 67-63-67-197 enabled her to bump Inbee Park out of the top spot in the Rolex Rankings. Park owned the No. 1 ranking for 59 weeks. Lewis, who earned $225,000 for her second victory this year, joins Annika Sorenstam, Julie Inkster and Betsy King as the only multiple winners of the tournament.

"I don't know what it is about this place," the 29-year-old Lewis said. "It's just really special to me. I've played some really good golf here. It's just mind boggling to think I have 10 wins out here (on the LPGA Tour).

"It's so hard to win. There are so many good players so you never take them for granted. You enjoy them. That's for sure. ... It was great to go out there today with everything on the line and play some really good steady golf and do what I needed to do."

Lewis was the world's No. 1 female golfer for a brief period of time in 2013, spending March 18 until April 8 atop the rankings.

Her climb back up was impressive as was her showing at the ShopRite Classic, where four Americans finished in the top six. Lewis, who went into the final round with a one-stroke advantage over Kim, came close to the tournament record established by Sorenstam in 1998 and 2005, ending a mere one stroke off.

That hardly mattered as her golf was very consistent and, often, spectacular. Over three rounds, she accumulated 18 birdies and one eagle. On the next-to-last hole, Lewis three-putted and had a bogey but immediately righted herself with a birdie on No. 18, a 501-yard par 5.

"I feel like I deserve to be here," Lewis said. "I didn't stumble into it or anything. I feel like I worked hard and earned it. That's what I'm proud of."

One of Lewis' best moments occurred on the 10th hole, right after she was unable to capitalize on a birdie opportunity on the ninth hole, a par 5, after reaching the green in two shots. On 10, she sank a 32-foot putt for birdie. Kim matched her with a birdie. Lewis, apparently charged up by the long-distance putt, dropped another putt - this time from 15 feet - to widen her advantage to four strokes. 

Jennifer Johnson, at 132 after two rounds, was paired with Lewis and Kim. She wound up in a four-way tie for third. Johnson and Lewis each had 35s after the front nine was complete.

Johnson's undoing was the 12th, 14th and 15th holes, where she had a double bogey and two bogeys, respectively. Going into the 12th hole, she was 12-under. Johnson's tee shot landed in a bunker on the right side of the fairway. Her second shot hit the left side of the green but trickled off. Her chip went over the green. The second chip was short, staying on the fringe. Johnson putted twice, posting a 6 on the par 4.

Kim, seeking her first win since 2005, was elated to be battling for the championship on Sunday. Recovered from injuries and personal issues, Kim had a solid closing round with four birdies, two of them back to back on Nos. 10 and 11.

Lewis seemed to be awed to be in the company of Sorenstam, Inkster and King, legends whose names she has seen listed on the walls of the clubhouse.

"That's not too bad. Wow! That's really cool," Lewis said. "That past list of winners. ... They're all Hall of Famers. Who knows what's in store for me? It's a cool list to be on."

Last modified onWednesday, 02 July 2014 08:54
Sandy Seegers

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