What It Means for the LPGA Tour That Stacy Lewis Is the New World No. 1

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2013

Stacy Lewis won the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup and became world No. 1.
Stacy Lewis won the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup and became world No. 1.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

She is young, she is talented and she is American. Stacy Lewis became the best player in women's golf last weekend. Lewis won the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup with an impressive 23-under-par score.

Stacy joined the LPGA Tour in 2009. Her rookie season was far from impressive: she earned $298,422, missed seven cuts out of 23 events played and finished seventh in the Rookie of the Year race behind some big names like Jiyai Shin and Michelle Wie.

Lewis had to wait two years to hoist her first LPGA trophy. Little did she know it was the first of many battles she would have against Yani Tseng, who by that time was the queen in women's golf.

The 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship put Stacy on the spotlight. She became a first-time winner at age 26, which is not very outstanding until you realize that she underwent surgery to treat scoliosis. She still has a titanium rod and five screws in her spine to straighten out a 45-degree curve.

Jumping into Poppie's Pond meant a lot more than just securing her first title. It was the birth of one of the most consistent golfers in the game.

For the first time in her career, Lewis broke into the top 15 of the Rolex Rankings and started to move up slowly. Three months later, she posted a runner-up finish at the Evian Masters, which boosted her four places in the ranking.

Stacy had a fantastic 2012 season, posting 16 top-10 finishes in 24 tournaments, including four victories—more than any other tour member.

By June, she was already No. 3 in the world. She claimed her second major title at the ShopRite LPGA Championship; it was her second win in her last three starts.

At the end of the season, Lewis finished third in the Money List—the closest American was Cristie Kerr, who finished 14th and $1 million dollars clear from Stacy.

She was also third in greens in regulation and third in putts per GIR. She received the Rolex Player of the Year award, becoming the first American to accomplish the feat since Beth Daniel did it in 1994.

In 2013, her winning percentage equals 50 percent. Stacy has played four events and has won two. Meanwhile, Yani Tseng, who secured 11 titles in 2011, is going through a 12-month winless drought.

The LPGA has become a global tour. Only 15 tournaments are played on U.S. soil (including the Solheim Cup), while 14 more are held abroad.

The tour stops seven times in Asia: Thailand, Singapore, China, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, and there is a reason for that.

According to the Golf Channel, Korean and Japanese TV rights packages are the LPGA’s two largest revenue streams.

Of course, the growing number of Asian players has been another factor. It all started with Korean golfers, led by the magnificent Se Ri Pak, but this season the LPGA hosts players from Taiwan, China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines.

Having Lewis as the leader of the LPGA can encourage American followers to turn their heads to the tour and show a bit more interest in it.

Also, the Solheim Cup will be held in Colorado this year. If Lewis keeps up the good work, we will get to see the best woman golfer in the world in this tournament for the first time since Annika Sörenstam played it in 2005.

Lewis can be a huge inspiration for little girls around the country. She turned 28 in February and has a long career ahead of her. She is one of the nicest and humblest players on the tour.

Last weekend, as she finished her third round, Stacy had a two-stroke penalty as her caddie tested the sand in a bunker. This meant she trailed Ai Miyazato by four shots rather than two.

And the one thing she came up with after her presser was, "It’s too quiet in here – it’s not that sad" (via golfaustralia.org).  

That is the kind of person you need as the front of your business!


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.