May 4, 2014

Stacy Lewis runs away to six-shot win at North Texas LPGA Shootout

The Texan closes with a 64 to easily hold off Meena Lee and Michelle Wie.

Stacy Lewis was in such command Sunday that no one concerned themselves with the whereabouts of the supposed bogeyman that has taken root in Tony Romo.

Nothing — not the gusty wind or even a hard-charging Michelle Wie — would deny Lewis her day of triumph at the North Texas LPGA Shootout at Las Colinas Country Club.

Lewis bewitched the field, running away with the $195,000 winner’s check by closing with a 7-under 64 and 16-under total.

In finally putting all of the tools in her bag together in her home state, Lewis left behind a burdensome winless streak with her first victory this year after a number of near-misses.

She also moved a step closer to becoming the world’s top-ranked player. She’ll move up a spot to No. 2 this week.

Lewis, a native of The Woodlands, entered this week with six runner-up finishes since capturing the Women’s British Open in August, including three in eight events this season. She had seven top-10 finishes this year.

“It’s relief,” said Lewis, whose six-stroke victory was the largest on tour since Jiyai Shin’s nine-stroke win at the 2012 Women’s British Open. “I’ve been so close the last few months, and just to do it and to do it here of all places. It’s one of those things that I almost felt like it was meant to be.

Her closest rival was Meena Lee, who played her best tournament in years and finished at 10 under. Wie, seeking her second victory in three weeks, jumped 12 spots after a 4 under in the final round.

The day started with a crowded leaderboard of 12 players within three strokes, but Lewis made the turn at 31 after a decisive run of eagle-birdie-birdie to finish the front nine.

A day after struggling with the putter, Lewis finished her round in 24 putts, 10 fewer than she needed in the third round.

Lewis “started to feel it on 7, 8 and 9,” rolling in a 25-foot eagle from the fringe on No. 7, a 10-foot birdie on 8, followed by 12-footer at 9.

“I didn’t change anything or do anything different,” Lewis said. “There’s nothing wrong, they just didn’t go in [Saturday]. But the ball started going and once you see putts go in, it’s kind of contagious.”

Lewis gained an edge on the par 5s, playing them at 9 under for the tournament, including 4 under Sunday. She appeared primed to put the tournament away as she approached the 510-yard, par-5 10th, but she parred the hole when, trying to reach in two, her shot went wayward left.

Her only bogey of the day was at the par-3 11th after her tee shot went right and into a greenside bunker. Meanwhile, a streaking Wie surged to 11 under.

Wie was the most legitimate challenge to the eventual winner with birdies on six of seven holes during a stretch to get within two shots. Wie, though, faded with bogey on Nos. 17 and 18.

Lewis extended her lead with a birdie on 12, and she closed with birdies on 17 and 18.

Her tee shot dribbled into the water on 15, but, laying two out of the water, she stuck a pitching wedge four feet from the hole for par.

“Hitting par on 15 was huge,” Lewis said. “I saw Michelle had gotten close, but she only had three or four holes to play. So, I kind of got that 14 number in the back of my head. She would have to birdie her last three holes basically to tie me.”

“If I could get at 14 and stay at 14 that’d be a good place to be.”

Lee, who hasn’t won since 2006 and entered the final round as co-leader with Lewis, shot 1 under.

She dropped a stroke immediately with a bogey at No. 1 and followed with three more, at 5, 11 and 16. The South Korea native recovered, though, with five birdies.

“I missed a birdie opportunity on 16 and I thought I had it on 17,” said Wie, whose iron off the tee box on the par-3 17 went long over the green. “It’s a little disappointing for me, but at the same time 4-under par on the last day, you know, I’ll take it.”

Julieta Granada, who was a stroke back entering play Sunday, shot a 4 over and finished 12 back of Lewis. Suzann Pettersen, the world’s fourth-ranked player, was also unable to gain any traction, shooting 1 over and finishing nine back of the winner.

Lewis checked off the elusive victory of 2014 and can now turn her attention fully to Inbee Park, the world’s top-ranked player for the past 55 weeks.

“This is a huge step, but I’m going to work just as hard as if I’d finished second this week,” Lewis said. “Things don’t change. It’s just nice to close the deal and to see my game getting better under pressure.”

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