Stacy Lewis on Getting Back to No. 1, Her Biggest Rival and How She Celebrates Majors (Hint: Not by Twerking)

Wednesday October 15th, 2014

STACY LEWIS
ANGUS MURRAY
Stacy Lewis poses at Old Palm Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


You reclaimed your spot as the No. 1-ranked female golfer in the world after winning the ShopRite Classic in June. Now that you're back on top, what are your goals?

To stay at No. 1 is a huge goal, and to win tournaments. That's ultimately what I want to do and what I like to do. I like bringing home trophies. Playing well in the majors is big, but I always say that my goal for the week is to give myself a chance on Sunday. If I'm doing that week in and week out, I'm doing a lot of good things.

You had the top spot last year, before Inbee Park took over, winning three majors in a row. Did that motivate you to elevate your game?

I realized that being the No. 1 player in the world means playing consistently every single week. You can't be missing cuts, and you can't barely make the cut and then play horribly on the weekend. I've worked really hard on making those bad rounds not quite so bad. That's really been the difference for me over the last few years.

As the LPGA Tour's current torchbearer, who do you see as someone who could ascend to the top and give the women's game a personality to root for?

Right now, the closest player is probably Lydia Ko. She's so young, and I'm not sure if she's ready for that kind of spotlight, but she's got the talent. Lexi Thompson will be around for a long time. I see her getting to No. 1 in the world someday. She's still growing up, too, and is so young that you kind of hope it happens later, so that [she and Ko] see how hard it is to get there and appreciate it a bit more in a few years.

STACY LEWIS
Hunter Martin/Getty Images
Stacy Lewis poses with her trophy after winning the ShopRite LPGA Classic.


Who do you consider your biggest rival on tour?

The media is trying to make Michelle [Wie] and me a rivalry, but right now, Lydia Ko and I are going to be battling. She's so talented. She's won four events before the age of 17, which is just crazy.

Speaking of youth, when Lucy Li qualified for the Women's U.S. Open this year, you said that if you had an 11-year-old daughter, you wouldn't let her play. Did Li's winning performance at Pinehurst change your mind?

No. Once you get on tour, you see things in a different light. A lot of people don't realize all that goes into being a professional golfer: the media requests, the sponsor deals. These kids come out when they're 11—obviously, playing for one week is fine—but even girls coming out at 15, 16, 17, I wonder if they're ready to handle the media, the spotlight, hanging out with sponsors for five hours? I just hate to see kids lose their childhoods.

Should the LPGA enforce stricter age limits?

We have 18 as an age limit, but there will always be people who break the norm and break records. I just hope that kids realize that those are the exceptions—that's not the way for everyone to go. I went to college for five years. I've still won a lot of tournaments, and I still became No. 1. I hope that kids know that you don't have to be the best player when you're 16.

Let's say you take over for LPGA commissioner Michael Whan for a day. What changes would you make?

[Laughs] He won't like this. I would like to see us go back to four majors. The whole concept of five majors hasn't set right with me since we changed it last year. Also, our field sizes need to be a little smaller. That would help make the Symetra Tour [the LPGA's developmental tour] a little stronger, increase the competition, and get those girls to learn how to win, not just make cuts. And we need more big purses and big events here in the U.S.

So, Commissioner Lewis, what's your plan to have more events, or to grow purses?

We need to play on the bigger course venues. Why not bring the LPGA to a course like Pebble Beach? Playing Pinehurst last year was huge for us. We've always done well in smaller markets, but I'd love to see us get to bigger venues and see what we can do.

Do you think there's more camaraderie among the LPGA players than there is on the PGA Tour?

For sure. We make great money but not anywhere close to what the guys do. We don't have the money to travel with our entire family every week, so it's hard. A lot of the time, you're out there by yourself, so we rent houses together, go to dinner together. It's what everybody does, just because we don't have any other options.

After Michelle Wie's victory at the U.S. Open, we saw photos of her twerking and drinking champagne from the trophy. How do you celebrate after a major win?

Gosh, not twerking, I can tell you that! I think the best way to celebrate is with your family and friends. When I won the British Open last year, I stayed at the Dunvegan, and we had the back room there. We were all eating food, drinking, and celebrating. Having my friends and family there is all I need.

STACY LEWIS
ANGUS MURRAY
Lewis practices her swing in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


STACY LEWIS: Three Things I Know for Sure

You Need to Embrace Challenges

My mom always helped me to see things just as they are, especially with everything I went through treating my [scoliosis]. She helped me by saying, "We just have to do this. Then we're going to be done, and it'll be better." She taught me to never see things as obstacles. There are challenges, but there's nothing to prevent you from doing things in the future. I don't look at challenges as something that will hold me back.

Hit It "Flat" to Win in the Wind

A shorter, flatter swing makes the ball come off lower and with less spring, which is key in the wind—and it helped me win my British Open at St. Andrews in 2013. I recommend taking a little bit more club and letting the ball release. At the top of the swing, think about keeping your right elbow closer to your body, and keep the swing short to minimize spin, because the longer a swing gets, the more spin you put on it.

Chipotle Tastes Like Home

Whenever I come back from a long trip to Asia, there's nothing I crave more than Mexican food. Being from Texas, I've got to get some good chips and salsa! That's what I miss most when I'm out of the country. I usually stop at Chipotle on the way home to get my fix. For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @golf_com on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.

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