Lewis Rues Runner-Up Role, But Thrilled for Close Friend Wie
By Hunki Yun, USGA
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Stacy Lewis knew she needed to make plenty of birdies to overcome the six-shot deficit she faced after 54 holes of the U.S. Women’s Open.
She did just that, making eight birdies – the most in a single round of any player during the back-to-back U.S. Opens at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2. Unfortunately, the top-ranked player in the world also made four bogeys, and her round of 4-under 66 left her in second place at even-par 280, two strokes behind Michelle Wie.
“To make eight birdies on this golf course is just a dream round,” said Lewis, whose runner-up finish was her best showing in eight U.S. Women’s Opens. “I thought if I got to even, I knew that would put some pressure on and it forced Michelle to hit some shots there at the end. When I finished I thought I had a chance. I really did.”
Lewis finished one stroke ahead of Stephanie Meadow and two strokes ahead of Amy Yang. Having started the day tied for the lead, Yang was dejected after shooting 74. Meadow, who finished third in her professional debut, couldn’t have been more happy if she had won.
“This is the biggest stage in golf,” said Meadow, who shot 69 in the final round. “This is what I’ve dreamed of for so long, to turn pro, to start at a U.S. Open. I couldn’t have pictured a better way to start my professional career.”
Winning a U.S. Women’s Open is the subject of most young golfers’ dreams, and Lewis came very close to capturing her third major. She won the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship and the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open.
“I think people kind of know me by now and know that I don’t give up, and I'm always going to hang around,” said Lewis, whose previous best finish in the U.S. Open was a tie for third in 2008. “It's probably not a surprise to them that I made a run today.”
Wie, who is familiar with Lewis’ game, certainly was expecting a challenge. They are good friends who live near each other in South Florida, practicing together and competing against each other.
“Michelle pushes me to get better,” said Lewis, 29. “I think I push some people to get better, too. That's why we play together when we’re home. That’s why we practice together. We want to make each other better.”
Lewis and Wie weren’t playing head-to-head at Pinehurst, but they still pushed each other.
Playing an hour ahead of Wie, Lewis never gave up her chase. After completing the round with birdies on the final two holes, Lewis entered the practice area to warm up for a potential three-hole playoff. When Wie made double bogey on the 16th hole, which cut her lead to a single gossamer stroke, Lewis began moving to the putting green, which sits between the 18th green and the first tee, where the playoff would have begun.
By the time Lewis took two balls and her putter from her bag and began stroking putts – just 40 yards from the back-right hole location on the 18th green – Wie had birdied the 17th hole and was playing the 18th hole with a two-stroke lead.
Lewis, whose view of the 18th green was blocked, heard the applause following Wie’s second shot, which finished 17 feet from the hole. She asked her caddie, “Who hit it?”
After the reply, she put the balls and the putter in her bag and walked over to the 18th green to watch Wie win her first major championship. After her friend putted out, Lewis was one of the first to congratulate her.
“You couldn't ask for anything better for this tour,” said Lewis. “She’s been working so hard and she’s a friend of mine and just to see, just how far she’s come even over just the last year, how much better she’s playing and more confident she is as a person. So to see her win, I’m just so happy for her.”
Hunki Yun is the USGA’s director of strategic projects. Email him at email@example.com.
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