State of the Hogs: Stacy Lewis
Stacy Lewis isn't sure if she can beat last year's four-week stay atop the women's world golf rankings, but the former Razorback knows staying power might be tied to "saying no" to more requests. Lewis won the LPGA ShopRight tournament in New Jersey last week to jump over Inbee Park, the player who replaced Lewis 59 weeks ago. Park did it with seven victories and three majors, with her streak of majors snapped by Lewis last summer with the British Open crown at St. Andrews. The key is simple Lewis said. You have to win trophies. "I knew the scenarios with the rankings last weekend," Lewis said, noting she was clued in to what she needed to take the spot back from Park. "But what I was looking for was to get the win, not the ranking. I'm looking for trophies. You know, it feels good to be back at No. 1. I only got four weeks there last year, so I'm looking forward to hopefully spending a little bit more time there." Lewis was front and center for a 30-minute teleconference with the national media -- with a few from Northwest Arkansas tuned in -- on Tuesday morning after she claimed the top spot. There were questions from golf writers from the major outlets, along with ESPN's LPGA golf reporter and several from media out of Arkansas and Houston, her two claimed homes. "I don't feel like I played bad golf but Inbee was amazing. But when someone is chasing you down like I was chasing Inbee, it puts more pressure on you." -Stacy Lewis There were early questions about the mindset with the No. 1 ranking. First, Lewis doesn't think she lost the ranking last year. She said Park won it back. "I don't feel like I played bad golf but Inbee was amazing," Lewis said. "But when someone is chasing you down like I was chasing Inbee, it puts more pressure on you." And, there are the constant obligations like Tuesday's media call. "It was kind of a relief for me when Inbee got it back," Lewis said. "But now I know how to handle it a little better. "It all happened so fast last year. That experience is going to help me this time. I won two tournaments pretty fast and was there. I was going around trying to do a bunch of media things. I am going to say no to a few things this time and be more prepared. "I know how to handle it. I know not to kill myself trying to do things on Monday and Tuesday and how to prepare to play." Lewis admits it would be nice to be wearing the No. 1 crown after the next two tournaments, this week in Orlando, Fla., then the following week in the U.S. Open in Pinehurst, N.C. It's after that the LPGA Tour returns to Northwest Arkansas for the Walmart Open on June 27-29. "Anytime I get back to Northwest Arkansas is special for me," Lewis said. "To see that tournament grow over the years and see so many people come out to the tournament has been great. "I do know for me to be No. 1 that week would be huge for the tournament. But it's going to be fun no matter what. I get to see my (former UA) coaches, the girls on the (UA) team and hang out with them some. That's something I really look forward to each time I get back." There won't be pressure to hang on the next two weeks, though. "I know not to put pressure on myself with that," she said. "I put enough pressure on myself anyway, so I don't want to be about the ranking. "I just want to get back to work and try to win again. If I keep playing well, I will be there for a long time. "I do know that I can't control what other players do, only myself." She wants to concentrate on goals and they might surprise. "They aren't about scoring or finish," Lewis said. "It's not related to what others can control. I want to keep working towards those goals that I can control. I am not changing anything. I'm doing too many good things to change my game." One of the areas that is going great has been putting and it's as simple as reading greens. She spent some time with Aim Point Express putting guru Mark Sweeney last year in Phoenix. If you've watched Lewis read greens, you may have picked up on her APE techniques. She walks to the middle part of the putt and feels the slope of the green. The APE technique tells her to judge how severe, on a one to three grade. "On longer putts with a lot of breaks, it really has helped me a lot," she said. "It helps you be specific on picking the point of aim. "If it's severe and it's say a three, you walk back to your ball and stand right behind it. You hold up your hand with three fingers. You put the hole to one side, and the aim point to where your first finger is. That's where you aim. "You pick the point and trust. It's really helped on longer putts. When I first began, I was skeptical. But it's so simple and it works. Kids can pick it up." Lewis said her mother is "not a golfer," but even she got the method quickly. "She'd watch me do it and she'd be saying, 'Oh, this one is going to break a lot,' and it was easy for her to figure out the system," Lewis said. "I'm always looking for a way to simplify golf. I'm all about that. "The old way to do it was about complicated books and graphs. This is something that you can pick up in 10 or 12 minutes and it's going to stick around for a bit." Lewis has made 209 birdies in 12 tournaments this year, number one in that category. She's averaging 1.739 in putts per greens in regulation, tops in that category, too. If she continues to sink putts at that pace, perhaps she'll stick around at No. 1 on the world rankings for a bit, too.