Stacy Lewis fired a bogey-free 31 on the final 9 of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, including 3 birdies in her final 4 holes, to outsprint Lydia Ko (who birdied the exact same holes Stacy did coming down the stretch), Cristie Kerr (who managed only 1 birdie in her final 12 holes), and Angela Stanford (who bounced back from bogeys on 13 and 14) to the finish line and take home her 11th LPGA title and 3rd of 2014. Lewis finished 66-65 on the weekend in front of the home crowd, blowing by 7 players who put together 3 rounds in a row in the 60s, including defending champion Inbee Park.
Except for an early double bogey, So Yeon Ryu played great golf, as well, finishing at -10, 2 shots behind Lewis. Despite a 4-shot swing on that par-3 6th, courtesy of a hole in 1, Chella Choi finished 1 shot behind Ryu after having to settle for a 69 today that left her tied for 6th with Suzann Pettersen. Rounding out the top 10 were a huge group of golfers at -8, led from the rear by a tired Michelle Wie. The 2nd-round leader opened the door to the field with 3 bogeys in a row as she made the turn and had trouble with the storm-softened greens all day, so was easily caught by Meena Lee (65), Julieta Granada (65), Jennifer Rosales (67), Karine Icher (68), Mi Hyang Lee (69), and Mina Harigae (69). Even though Inbee Park and Na Yeon Choi were 2 of those players to break 70 all 3 rounds, they finished a shot further back, tied with Hee Young Park (67) and Alejandra Llaneza (70).
Looking further down the leaderboard, it was nice to see a pair of Jennifers post final-round 66s: Johnson's lifted her into a tie for 19th with Pornanong Phatlum, Mi Jung Hur, and rookie Line Videl, while Song's got her into a tie for 23rd with the likes of Hee-Won Han, Morgan Pressel, Gerina Piller, and Caroline Hedwall. It was also nice to see Karin Sjodin make a cut and finish high enough to finally break the $1M barrier in career LPGA winnings, as well.
But in the end the day belonged to Lewis, who looked like she expected to make every putt she stood over. The contrast with Kerr, usually one of the most confident and aggressive putters on tour, couldn't have been starker. Kerr, literally one of the best putters in history, took 65 putts over the weekend while Lewis took only 49 (the next closest among the leaders was Chella Choi, who still took 55!). That's the kind of virtuosity with the flat stick that'll make it very hard for anyone to dislodge Lewis from the #1 spot on the Rolex Rankings, the money list, the Player of the Year race, and the Race to the CME Globe. Congratulations to Stacy for turning the pressure of her "6th major" and turning it into fuel for a fantastic weekend.
[Update 1 (10:22 pm): Just saw on twitter that Alena Sharp also became a $1M Woman today! Congrats!]