by Jeff Skinner
Spending some time in Europe during the summer can be a dream come. For the ladies that make their living on the golf course their mid-season trip abroad continues this week as they move from France to Scotland for The Ricoh Women’s British Open. There’s a slight difference in the course this week as they change from the lush hills of The Evian to the difficult exasperating layout of what many call the toughest course in the world, Carnoustie Golf Links.
One player that isn’t fearful of “Carnasty” is Stacy Lewis. She is looking forward to it. Lewis is coming off a second place finish at The Evian Masters and is playing the best golf of her young, professional career.
In her third year as a professional, Lewis has become a fixture at the top of the leaderboard. This was her sixth top ten in twelve outings and is fourth on the LPGA Money List with $858,840. Lewis came onto the LPGA with exquisite credentials while at the University of Arkansas and her game this year has moved to another level.
She broke through in a big way when she made this season’s first major, The Kraft Nabisco Championship her first career win. She followed up with a T6 finish at the next major, The Wegman’s LPGA Championship and her second place finish this week at the newly christened “Fifth Major” puts her among golf’s elite players.
Lewis’ new found prosperity can be traced to some hard work during the off season with her new coach, Joe Hallett. She has improved her driving to the point where she can hit shorter irons into greens and it has paid off. She is averaging over six more yards off the tee this year and has been much longer than last year on occasion. She is hitting more fairways this year as compared to 2010 (74%-71%) and also finding more greens (74%-70%). All that has translated into a 71.15 scoring average that ranks her seventh on the LPGA Tour.
Lewis has a reputation for playing well on the most difficult courses and that will be tested this week at Carnoustie. Growing up in the winds of Texas may help her in her quest for her second win and make her a double major winner this year.
She is confident this week and feels her putting stroke is improved, “I struggled last year here on the greens, so that’s what I’m most excited with, is how my putter feels. You got to putt it well at any major championship, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Lewis can draw on some successful experience on the links. She led her Curtis Cup team to victory at St. Andrews and was a record setting 5-0 in that match. She’s ready for Carnasty, “I enjoy links‑style golf. You have to be creative and hit different types of shots. I think the weather actually looks pretty good, so hopefully we won’t get too much rain. But it will be windy and you have to play some low shots. I grew up in Texas, so (it) should be pretty good.”
With Michelle Wie showing the effects of being a part time professional and still searching for her putter, Stacy Lewis is the new, young face of American golf. She has joined veteran Cristie Kerr as the cream of the crop in American Golf.