Stacy Lewis, who seems to excel at coming from behind on Sunday to close the deal, has done it again at the WalMart NW Arkansas Championship. Sunday started out looking more or less like Michelle Wie‘s day, but things started going wrong for Wie almost immediately. She bogeyed her first two holes and wasn’t able to find her Friday and Saturday pizazz. For Wie, Sunday was a frustrating grind. Simultaneously Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford moved up the board and there was a three-way tie that got more complicated when Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis both ramped up their games. In the end, with birdies on three of her last four holes and the gallery going wild, issuing an earsplitting collective Arkansas hog call, Stacy Lewis closed the deal with a 65, one stroke ahead of Ko, Kerr, and Stanford.
The WalMart Championship was the third win this year for Lewis, who also nailed down victories at the North Texas LPGA Shootout and the ShopRite LPGA Classic in May. It also adds another 500 points to her Race to the CME Globe edge, putting her well ahead of Wie and Anna Nordqvist, her closest challengers in the year-long contest with the million dollar bonus, and pushes her year-to-date winnings closer to the two million dollar mark. All this makes for a very comfortable start to her seventh week at the top of the world rankings and gives Lewis a huge mental boost as she heads now into a defense of her title at the RICOH Women’s British Open in two weeks.
Lewis was all smiles in her post-round interview this afternoon.
Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Lydia Ko and, for a time So Yeon Ryu all looked good for a playoff during the final nine holes. Ryu wasn’t able to overcome the double bogey on the par-3 6th, the same hole that Chella Choi aced, and ended up settling for solo 5th place. Kerr, Stanford, and Ko, who all carded three sub-par rounds and were playing spectacular golf, just couldn’t squeeze out that final birdie that would have taken them into a playoff with Lewis. They finished the tourney at -10 and sharing second place.
Defending champ Inbee Park finished at -7 in T15th. Park was never able to get her flat stick fired up. And Lady Razorback amateur Gabby Lopez finished at even par, a good job for the rising junior who’s probably going to make another appearance at the WalMart Championship next year.
Even with the weather delays and the Golf Channel Sunday delay in beginning coverage, which was frustrating at the very least, the WalMart NW Arkansas Championship is a delightful tournament with a down-home flavor that’s fun for the players as well as the fans.
The LPGA Tour takes a break now before the LET-LPGA co-sanctioned 72-hole RICOH Women’s British Open, June 20-13 at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, Lancashire, England. I’m expecting intense competition and world-class golf at this third Major on the LPGA calendar, and will provide background information on the field and a preview of the event over the next two weeks.