By petedirenzo
Monday, July 07, 2008

Like a lot of people who watched the U.S. Women's Open, I've become a Stacy Lewis fan. What a story: she spent seven years in a brace-like corset in an attempt to correct a curved spine. When it didn't work she had a rod inserted shortly before starting her five-year career at Arkansas, where she won the NCAA individual title.
In her final event as an amateur she went 5-0 at the Old Course in the Curtis Cup. In her first tournament as a professional, she was the 54-hole leader at the Open at Interlachen. When she closed with a 78 to finish in a tie for third, she was charming and candid with reporters.  The money she earned, $162,487, did nothing to help her secure full-time playing rights on the LPGA tour, because the U.S. Open is not an LPGA co-sponsored event, which seems odd.
Last week, at the tour stop in Arkansas, was the first of six events she may play as a non-LPGA player to earn $117,128 (what last year's 80th-ranked player earned) to earn a card without having to go through the rigors of tour qualifying school. Not so good last week. Rounds of 69, 69 and 75 earned her $5,437.
The guess here is that she'll still make the $112,000 in five events. And if she doesn't, she'll have no trouble getting through Q-School. And once she's playing full-time with a set schedule, as a woman in her mid-20s who has experienced a lot in her life -- pain and triumph both -- she will be a dominating force in women's golf and a joy to watch.

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