Everybody expected a real shootout in the final round of the North Texas LPGA Shootout, what with the 23 golfers within 5 shots of co-leaders Stacy Lewis and Meena Lee at the start of the day, but Lewis turned it into a cakewalk.
Thanks to a bogey-free 31 on the front that included an eagle-birdie-birdie finish, Lewis served notice that those chasing her would have to make some magic today. For awhile, it looked like Michelle Wie would be just that player. Just as Lewis faltered with a bogey on the par-3 11th that dropped her back to -13 with 7 holes left to play, Wie capped off a run between the 9th and 15th holes that included an eagle (her 3rd of the week on the par-5 10th) and 4 birdies that at one point got her within 1 shot of Lewis. In addition, Lee birdied the par-3 13th to pull within 3 shots of the lead, and Na Yeon Choi was still within striking distance, only 4 shots off the pace. Given Lewis's history of close calls since she gave up the world #1 spot to Inbee Park, her lead chase pack had to be licking their lips.
But instead, they were the ones to struggle down the stretch. Wie peaked at -11 but bogeyed 17 and 18 to drop to -9 for the week and solo 3rd. Choi bogeyed 16 and 17 and needed a birdie on 18 to tie Kim Kaufman for 4th. And Lee bogeyed 16 and birdied 18 to get solo 2nd at -10. Lewis, by contrast, was rock-solid after her 1st bogey in 47 holes. She bounced right back with a birdie on the par-4 12th, saved par after hitting a ball in the water on the par-4 15th, and birdied 17 and 18 to ice her 6-shot victory.
Lots of other players had good weeks--Suzann Pettersen, Jenny Shin, and Christina Kim were -9 with 8 holes to play, Dori Carter was -9 with 7 to go, Jennifer Johnson was -8 with 8 to play, Cristie Kerr was -8 with 5 to go, and Pornanong Phatlum was -8 with 4 to play--but none of them could close as strongly as Lewis. As a result, Lexi Thompson and Dewi Claire Schreefel were able to catch Pettersen, Kerr, Kim, and Carter at -7 for the week (T6), while Shin and Johnson had to settle for T12 at -6 and Phatlum fell all the way to -4 (with Natalie Gulbis and Julieta Granada, who had even tougher days), behind Inbee Park, Pat Hurst, Chella Choi, and Alena Sharp at -5.
But the day belonged to Lewis, who fired her 2nd 64 of the week, both of which came on days she putted like the Stacy Lewis of recent years. Paula Creamer may have beaten her to the 10-win-and-over club on the LPGA, but now she has just as good a chance as Inbee Park and Ai Miyazato to be the next player to reach that milestone. Last year at Kingsmill, Lewis finished T5 behind Cristie Kerr, who beat Suzann Pettersen in a playoff. We'll have to wait a little less than 2 weeks to see how things play out there this year. I'll bet Lewis can't wait!