Stacy Lewis Writes The Great American Comeback
by Jeff Skinner
Stacy Lewis continued to write another chapter in her inspiring young life that simply epitomizes the word comeback. With her victory at The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup Lewis claimed the top spot in the world rankings and has matured into a force on the LPGA.
The fact that Lewis was thrown another setback after her third round with a two stroke penalty meant really nothing to her. She chalked it up to “just one more thing” on her journey to be the best.
The Founders Cup was a microcosm of her young life. She had worked very hard to build her golf swing while a junior player but was forced to wear a back brace for eighteen hours a daydue to scoliosis. Doctors shocked her when she was eighteen and they told her the brace had no effect and she needed surgery. Just one more thing I guess. So with an Arkansas scholarship waiting for her she had the surgery with no assurances that she would ever play golf again. Just one more thing.
After the successful operation she couldn’t swing for months and was forced to watch her teammates compete at the game she loved. Just one more thing. So she used the time to hone her short game during her first season at Arkansas. In time she would become All-American and the NCAA Individual Champion, go undefeated at The Curtis Cup and win the LPGA Tour’s Q-School. Again, all just one more thing.
Lewis came onto the LPGA with some fanfare but struggled to find the winners circle. She would play well for three rounds but always seemed to have that one bad round that would hold her back. She’s as competitive a player as there is in golf and many times her emotions would get the better of her. Just one more thing.
After working with a new coach, Joe Hallet, to “plug some power leaks” in her swing she found more yards off the tee and allowed her to utilized her stellar short game. Lewis has spent time with Hall of Famer Betsy King on charity trips to Africa and has been mentored by another Hall of Famer, Beth Daniel. All her hard work paid off with her first career win at the season’s first major in 2011 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
What we have seen since then is a more mature, more controlled golfer on the course and a young woman who has grown more comfortable in the spotlight. 2012 was truly a life changing year for Lewis with four wins and the Player of the Year Award.
The normally very shy Lewis has learned to embrace the attention and the spotlight that comes with being the best American golfer. We shouldn’t be fooled by her slight, petite appearance. Her small frame houses the heart of a fiery competitor that yearns to be the best. The player we see now welcomes the challenges and pressure of playing at the top. But still there was just one more thing.
Lewis had her sights set on the number one slot and wasn’t afraid to let that be known. “That was my goal kind of since the middle of last year and I really didn’t think it would be possible this quick. We’ve only played four tournaments this year and it’s just crazy.”
Her entire life has been one comeback after another. “Yeah, it’s almost 10 years ago I was having surgery, I was going into surgery to put a rod and five screws in my back,” said Lewis. “That was just 10 years ago. That’s not normal, that’s not supposed to happen. I mean, I’m not ‑‑ I’m really not supposed to be here.
“People with metal in their back, how do you play golf,” she added. “I don’t know, I don’t know how, I don’t know why I’m here. I know that there’s a reason and I know that everything happens for a reason. Every setback you have along the way, everything good that happens, it all happens for a reason. I don’t know, I couldn’t have dreamed the kid growing up wearing a back brace 18 hours a day that is the No. 1 player in the world. I don’t know, I don’t know what to say.”
Her young life has been one of determination, perseverance and comebacks. But there is more for Lewis ahead. “We have majors coming up, Solheim, and so much more to play for and I’m just excited about the rest of the year more than anything,” said Lewis. “I’m having a blast on the golf course, and to be No. 1 in the world, it’s what everybody out here on Tour is working for and to be that person is, I mean, I really don’t even know what to say.”
She’s having a blast, and deservedly so as she writes The Great American Comeback Story.