Lewis gets a scare down stretch
Stacy Lewis became the first American to win on the LPGA Tour this season with her one-shot victory at the HSBC Women’s Champions on Sunday. Here are Five Things to know from Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore:
1. Par for the win
Lewis entered the final round of the HSBC Women’s Champions tied with Na Yeon Choi. Lewis, the 2012 LPGA Player of the Year, had begun to pull away after a 3-under-par 33 on the front nine that included an eagle at the par-5 seventh and a birdie at No. 9. She bogeyed Nos. 15 and 17 on the back.
The final round was the first time all week that Lewis played the 18th as a two-shot hole. That decision came after watching compatriot Paula Creamer, who eventually finished third, pull driver.
“I saw where Paula Creamer hit her drive past the bunker and I turned to my caddie, and we both at the same time said driver, and I let it rip and that thing got so far down there,” Lewis said.
Lewis reached the green in two then faced a long eagle putt, which she left about 10 feet short of the hole. Choi could have holed a 12-footer for birdie that would have meant a playoff if Lewis didn’t make birdie. Choi, however, missed and so did Lewis, who then tapped in for a par, a final-round 71 and her sixth career victory.
“The last four or five holes, I was pretty nervous. I’m not going to lie,” Lewis said. “That golf course is hard, and it can jump up and get you at any second, and to have to play with two great players on your tail all day, and they played unbelievable, and none of us really we just couldn’t get any putts to fall on the back nine.\
"I don’t know what it was. Edges just seemed a little bit tighter. Paula (Creamer) had a couple on the edge.
“I don’t know, I just played hard and put my head down and tried to make as many putts as I could, and, fortunately I came away with the win.”
Lewis’ caddie Travis Wilson also was recognized this week as the HSBC Women’s Champions Caddie of the Year. Wilson and Lewis have been together since Lewis joined the LPGA Tour in 2009.
“He helped me a lot today, and he’s worked hard at it,” Lewis said. “You know, I’m just glad that he got recognized by the rest of the players and the caddies. To be recognized by your peers I think is pretty special.”
2. Quick recovery
Creamer’s third-place finish is especially impressive considering she wasn’t even sure she would play until Thursday morning. Creamer was one of three players involved in a car accident Feb. 24 in Thailand, after the LPGA event there. Ai Miyazato withdrew from the HSBC, and Suzann Pettersen finished tied for 32nd.
Since the accident, Creamer has been dealing with a sore neck and right shoulder. She plans to return to her home in Orlando, Fla., before the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, the next event on the LPGA tour schedule and the first on US soil.
“Geez, this is much more than what I ever expected, and to have a chance and really have a good chance to win this event, it felt good,” Creamer said of the HSBC Women’s Champions. “It was nice to be in contention and have just a good attitude out there. I think that’s the biggest thing that I take away from this week.”
3. Still knocking on the door
After a triple bogey on the final hole of last week’s Honda LPGA Thailand cost Ariya Jutanugarn her first professional victory, the Thailand native got a second chance in Singapore. Jutanugarn, a 17-year-old playing on the Ladies European Tour this season, played the HSBC on a sponsor exemption this week.
Jutanugarn clung near the top of the leaderboard with opening rounds of 69-66. After closing rounds of 72-71, she finished five shots behind Lewis, in solo fourth.
In only two LPGA Tour starts, Jutanugarn has banked $215,568. Because she is not an LPGA Tour member, she won’t be listed on the LPGA Tour money list.
4. Other youngsters
Two other up-and-coming players whose finishes are worth noting? Jessica Korda and Danielle Kang, who made up the final match at the 2010 US Women’s Amateur. (Kang was the eventual champion there.)
Kang, a rookie in 2012, finished tied for fifth with Korda in Singapore. Both finished at 9-under 279.
It’s only the second top-five finish of Kang’s career, after a tie for third at last year’s Kingsmill Championship. For Korda, a rookie in 2011, it’s the best finish since her first-and-only victory at last year’s ISPS Handa Australian Open.
5. Short shots
• World No. 1 Yani Tseng failed to make up as much ground in the final round this week as she has in the past two LPGA Tour events. Tseng closed in 74 to finish tied for 28th. She shot a final-round 63 last week in Thailand to finish T-3 and final-round 66 in Australia the week before that to finish second.
• Na Yeon Choi also earned a share of second last year at the HSBC Women’s Champions. She finished runner-up to Angela Stanford.