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Walmart LPGA Tourney Boosting the Razorback Women

The LPGA's annual tour stop in NW Arkansas is paying dividends for the Razorback Women's golf program.
Fayetteville--The University of Arkansas' women's golf program gets a boost every time former Razorback Stacy Lewis wins an LPGA event. The current Women's British Open Champion just recorded her first official win a tournament that may someday be named for her. Lewis' victory in the 2014 Walmart-Northwest Arkansas Championship has Razorback women's golf coach Shauna Estes-Taylor excited for obvious reasons. She coached Lewis from a shy redshirt freshman to maybe the best college golfer in the country four years later.

Seven years after that Lewis is currently ranked number one in the world but Estes-Taylor is not content with just one famous ex pupil.  She is busy trying to develop more Razorbacks for the pro tour.

Departing Arkansas senior Emily Tubert is headed to qualifying school after getting an early look at what she'll be facing as an aspiring pro thanks to a sponsors exemption that is awarded annually to two Razorback golfers for the Walmart tournament. Tubert failed to make the cut in this year's event but said the experience was invaluable.

"There's so much support out here and all the Razorback fans are incredible so I just tried to enjoy every shot and every moment," Tubert told reporters after her final round. "Of course I would have liked to have played a little bit better but I definitely had a smile on my face the whole time."

Current Razorback Gaby Lopez did play better, making the cut to compete on Sunday. Lopez said she was helped by some personal instruction she got from Lewis during a practice round.

"Hitting a fade or hitting a cut or hitting a draw or hitting a hook is key to get close to the pin and then you use the slopes of the green to get close," Lopez said of her time with Lewis earlier in the week. "I think that's one of the most important things that I've learned from her."

Getting tips from the number one player in the world and using that knowledge in a LPGA event is not common for collegiate golfers but it is for the Razorback women because of this event, its sponsors exemptions and the chance to qualify by score on a course 18 miles from their campus.

"We're maybe one of the few, if not the only university that has an LPGA Tournament in their town, so close to campus," Estes-Taylor beamed. "Most of our girls have the dream of  playing on tour and there's no greater measuring stick than to give them this opportunity."

Whose is next Arkansas golfer to make it on tour?

Stay tuned.



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