Here are 5 Things to take away from Stacy Lewis’ win at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in Mobile, Ala.:
1. STEADY STACY: Stacy Lewis is back to her predictable, steady self. Four rounds in the 60s and a subsequent win Sunday at the the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic prove what most already know: Last week’s missed cut at the LPGA Lotte Championship was merely a blip in the radar.
Lewis collected her second career victory with a 17-under 271 at Magnolia Grove’s Crossings Course in Mobile Bay, Ala. It didn’t come easily, considering good friend Brittany Lincicome briefly passed her in Round 3, and 17-year-old Lexi Thompson put up an admirable fight during the final stretch.
“I feel like I’ve been close ever since then just to winning and people say I haven’t been winning, just kind of knocking on the door,” Lewis said. “It’s nice to get it out of the way.”
Lewis attributes the missed cut at the Lotte Championship, played in Hawaii, to a poor mental game. She’s learned from it and moved on.
“I think it was really one of those weeks,” she said. “I had a lot of stuff going on and just I think mentally I was just ‑‑ I was kind of not there.”
And while Lewis, an Arkansas alum, may not have been in her college state this week, she at least was close. The “Go Hogs” yells made the win that much sweeter.
“We’re in SEC country, so I’m pretty comfortable here.”
2. EPIC FINISH: Lexi Thompson fell one shot short of her second LPGA title and third win worldwide, but it wasn’t for lack of fight. Thompson finished Mobile Bay with rounds of 66-65. She had just one bogey in the final two rounds (par-4 11th, Round 3) and 14 birdies.
Thompson averaged 293 yards off the tee for the week, and hit 47 of 56 fairways. This year’s finish was much different than last year’s, when Thompson shot 78 to fall down the leaderboard. It’s an experience for which she is grateful.
“l wouldn’t take last year’s Sunday round back for anything, because I learned so much out of that,” Thompson said. “I learned what not to do. It was a really big learning experience.”
Much buzz continued to surround Thompson this week about her ongoing, worldwide search for a prom date. For that competition, Thompson admitted after the third round, there is no leaderboard.
“Everybody that signs in or has entered is a great person, very special,” she said. “So nobody’s ahead of anybody.”
3. COOL HEADED: Is there an LPGA player with a better mental game than Brittany Lincicome? During her third-round 67, TV cameras caught the 27-year-old working her way through a Sudoku puzzle on the course that she claimed had kept her stumped for weeks. Another popular topic of post-round conversation in Mobile was the impending delivery of Lincicome’s new fishing boat, to be called “Taking Relief.”
“My Vision 54 ladies got me to do Sudoku and, like, hangman games for the Kraft Nabisco,” Lincicome said. “So if you’re on a par 3 or you have like a long wait, it’s just something to kind of take my mind off of playing golf.”
Lincicome had two wins in 2011, bringing her career total to five, and nearly had a sixth at the LPGA season-opening Australian Open. She was part of a six-way playoff but lost to eventual champion Jessica Korda.
She held the lead briefly during Round 3 before good friend Lewis went on a round-ending birdie tear to pull ahead by two shots. Lincicome finished T-4 after a final-round 72.
Lincicome began tournament week by throwing out the first pitch Monday night at the Mobile Bay Bears baseball game. Lewis caught the ceremonial throw.
4. A NEW NATALIE: With another top-10 finish, so continues the stellar start to Natalie Gulbis’ 2012 season. Gulbis shot 11-under 277 (69, 70, 68, 70) to finish T-9 in Mobile, which is her second top 10 of 2012. She also finished T-8 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which was her first time inside the top 10 since 2009. Gulbis concluded the Kraft with a final-round 65.
Upon entering the media room after her final round at the Kraft, Gulbis acknowledged how long it had been since she’d climbed the interview podium. With this kind of play, she continues to give scribes a reason to seek an interview.
5. FEARSOME THREESOME: After South Korean superstar Se Ri Pak (who won this event in 2010) announced Friday she would be sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder injury, the kids swooped in to pick up where she left off. It’s not particularly surprising, considering that twentysomethings So Yeon Ryu (T-4), Sun Young Yoo (T-4) and Hee Young Park (T-9) have become familiar faces on the top of LPGA leaderboards.
Ryu, the reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, and Yoo, who recently won the Kraft Nabisco Championship, have done well to fill the big shoes of Pak, who is credited with the explosion of talented young South Koreans in recent years. Keep an eye also on Park, who won last year’s CME Group Titleholders, then finished T-8 at the HSBC Women’s Champions and fifth at the RR Donnelly LPGA Founders Cup to start this season.
Pak, meanwhile, hopes to be healthy enough to tee it up at this U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run, where she won the Open in 1998.