Lewis Learning To Thrive On Pressure

The Stacy Lewis that redshirted at the University of Arkansas back in 2004 could not have imagined handling the kind of attention that comes from being the number one player in the world while trying to win an LPGA tournament in the shadow of her alma mater.

"When I first came here to school I was extremely shy," Lewis noted following her first official win in the Walmart NWA Championship. "Being outgoing and all that kind of stuff is definitely not me but I think I'm getting there. I think I'm doing better."

So much better that on this trip back to Northwest Arkansas Lewis was able to take the stress of trying to win for the hometown fans and turn that pressure from a negative to a positive.

"Enjoying it more is what I'm trying to do and I think that's what comes off of not being so stressed out all the time," Lewis revealed. "Just trying to take the scene in and be like, 'Wow this is awesome.' " 

It may have taken a pre-round tip from Lewis' former college coach to sink the winning putt on number 18 at Pinnacle Country Club. Shauna Estes-Taylor told her former pupil on Saturday night that on crucial putts in the final round she should keep thinking, 'down the line. Down the line.'

"I don't know if you could see it but (Lewis' caddy) Travis told me, he walked away, he said, 'Knock it in' and I said, 'Down the line. Down the line.' So that's all I was telling myself over that putt," Lewis recalled with a laugh.

That dramatic putt grabbed the headlines on Sunday but Lewis said she laid the groundwork for the win all the way back on the front nine, telling reporters, "I shot two under on the front nine today which was my best score on the front nine all week so I knew, I thought,  if I could shoot a couple under on the front then I could make a move on the back nine 'cause I don't know what it is on this golf course but the back nine just kind of suits me a little bit better."

By the time Lewis made the turn third round leader Michelle Wie had started to falter. A pitched battle with Christie Kerr developed but down the stretch Lewis knew she was in her element. "I play to get in the heat of the battle," she said confidently. "To have that chance to win at the end. That's why I play. I want to see where my game is at that point 'cause that's the ultimate test."

Lewis' birdie putt on 18 was set up by a tricky wedge shot to the elevated, sloping green. The key was to land the ball above the hole and let it work its way back, but not too far back. When she pulled that shot off and made the putt Lewis had created the ultimate one of those "take in the scene" moments.

"The crowd, they were ready to go nuts and when they did it was really cool," Lewis beamed.

Lewis will take a week off for a family vacation in North Carolina before heading to England where she will try to defend her 2013 Women's British Open title at Royal Birkdale July 10-13.

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