Lewis' goal of being No. 1 getting closer to reality

Stacy Lewis celebrates after making a birdie putt on the ninth hole green to finish the second round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.

Stacy Lewis celebrates after making a birdie putt on the ninth hole green to finish the second round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.

PHOENIX – As a kid, Stacy Lewis never dreamed of being the No. 1 player in the world. That was an adult goal, and one that’s closer than ever to becoming reality.

Two days ago, when a reporter told Lewis she had a chance this week to overtake Yani Tseng with a victory in the desert, Lewis put a finger in each ear and said la-la-la-la.

It was a lighthearted moment for Lewis, who at this point can’t help but think about becoming World No. 1. She has risen to the occasion: A second-round 65 at Wildfire Golf Club put Lewis in the weekend mix as she trails Jee Young Lee by four strokes. Lee leads the field at 15-under 129.

Lewis and Tseng were paired together in the first two rounds of the RR Donnelley Founders Cup and spent much of their time chitchatting down the fairways. Tseng, who would lose the top position if Lewis were to win and she would finish third or worse, has come to terms with what now seems inevitable.

“It will be a good release for me,” Tseng said of losing the position she has held the last 109 weeks. “It’s good for American golf.”

Like many, Lewis believes that if Tseng were to drop to No. 2 in the world, she would start to play better. Tseng’s self-inflicted pressure would pop, and she’d be able to get back to the business of playing golf with a free mind.

Even so, Lewis said she can’t imagine ever getting to the point where she’d be at peace with losing golf’s most coveted spot. If Lewis gets there, she’ll hold on as tight as she can for as long as she can.

“I’m not going to take it for granted,” Lewis said.

Lewis and Tseng are an amiable pair. Phoenix was the first time they have played together since the last round of the Mizuno Classic in Japan, when Tseng encouraged Lewis down the stretch as she clinched the 2012 Rolex Player of the Year trophy. “One more. You got this. One more,” Tseng said to Lewis as they walked to the 18th tee.

“One more (birdie) was what I needed,” Lewis said.

It was a sign of great sportsmanship, and Lewis made sure to acknowledge Tseng in her POY acceptance speech.

Early Friday morning at Wildfire, Lewis got off to a slowish start. A hole-out from the fairway from 109 yards for eagle on the 16th hole (her seventh), however, was the jolt she needed. Lewis made five birdies on the front nine to climb into contention.

The powerful Tseng, who is even longer off the tee this year, bogeyed three par-5s in the first two rounds and is only 2 under for the tournament. She said she’s still confident and comfortable on the course, and that low scores are still there for the taking.

At 24 years old, Tseng knows that no matter what happens this week, she is still in the early stages of her career. After watching good friend Lorena Ochoa retire on top though, she wants to do the same. Just not anytime soon.

“My goal is to retire when I’m No. 1,” Tseng said. “But I’m not going to retire now.”

Let’s hope not. This friendly rivalry with Lewis is just getting started.

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