What does it feel like to be the world-ranked top golfer? Pretty darn good, according to Stacy Lewis, who’s starting her fifth week at the top of the rankings. Lewis started the 2014 season with a singular goal: Win Tournaments! That goal’s been fueling every shot she’s made through fourteen LPGA events, and it’s gotten her twelve top-10 finishes, two of them victories (at the North Texas LPGA Shootout in April and the ShopRite LPGA Classic in May), $1.58 million dollars in winnings, and a healthy edge over her closest contender, Michelle Wie, in the year-long Race to the CME Globe and it’s million dollar bonus purse.
Lewis collected yet another honor coming into the WalMart Northwest Arkansas Championship. She’s been named to the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor, leading a 2014 class that includes two National Football League greats, one of the Southeastern Conference’s most prolific three-point shooters, a WNBA first-round draft pick and one of the most dominant runners in the storied tradition of Razorback Track and Field.
Reflecting on her brief stint at the top of the Rolex Rankings last year, Lewis has said she wasn’t ready then to manage the demands the spotlight brings. Now she’s talking about how it feels to operate within that spotlight and she seems to be handling it quite nicely.
What makes Lewis’s game so good? The stats tell the tale: she’s ranked number 1 on the LPGA Tour in putts per GIR (1.743), scoring average (69.073), total recorded birdies (245 and counting), rounds in the 60s (31), and sub-par holes (250); and she’s ranked second on the Tour in hitting greens in regulation (79%) and number of recorded sub-par rounds (44). It’s no surprise that she’s leading the field in Rolex Player of the Year points and in points accumulating for inclusion on the 2015 Solheim Cup Team USA.
Lewis has a big month ahead of her. Whether or not she turns out to be the winner at the WalMart Northwest Arkansas Championship, she’s the star, the local girl who’s made good; and she’s going on from there to defend her title at the RICOH Women’s British Open and then lead the American team at the LPGA International Crown.