The LPGA is in Arkansas this week, which means hog calls are in order. This is Stacy Lewis’ adopted home state, and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship her unofficial sixth major.
Tour officials shortened the par-3 17th hole at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers and added stadium-style grandstands to make this year’s penultimate hole rock even harder.
“(The) 17th hole has always been the loudest hole, even before this year,” said World No. 1 Inbee Park, who expects players to attack the flag on that green with 9- and 8-irons.
Fans will save their best “Woo Pig Sooie” on 17 for Lewis, who actually won this tournament, unofficially, while playing at the University of Arkansas. Lewis opened with a 7-under 65 in 2007 to lead the field, but the remainder of the tournament was rained out.
It’s a hectic week for Lewis, who also hosts the AJGA’s KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior Open at the nearby Lost Springs Golf & Athletic Club. On Wednesday, Lewis practiced off-site before hosting a barbecue at her namesake event. It should be noted that Lewis played in only a handful of AJGA events as a junior and wasn’t heavily recruited out of The Woodlands, Texas, by top colleges, making her an ideal source of inspiration.
Lewis, who last won in March, hasn’t contended in Arkansas since that washout in ’07 but would love to put on a show for the Razorback faithful.
Her performances at Pinnacle Country Club since turning pro: T-49 in 2008, T-21 in 2009, T-9 in 2010, T-8 in 2011 and T-19 in 2012.
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A cut above: Jane Rah donated her hair Wednesday night in Arkansas as part of the Pantene Beautiful Lengths charity event. Even LPGA commissioner Mike Whan took part in helping to cut more than eight inches of hair from participants willing to help cancer patients in a very personal way. More than 400 people committed to last night’s group cut.
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Aussie out: Karrie Webb is the only player ranked inside the top 25 on the LPGA money list who isn’t playing in Arkansas.
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On second thought: Charley Hull looks to end her streak of seconds this week in Slovakia, of all places. Hull, 17, has notched a runner-up finish in all five events she has played on the LET this season and leads the tour’s Order of Merit.
History appears to be on Hull’s side as all three previous champions of the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open were first-time winners. She ranks eighth in the European Solheim Cup standings, though she would be a no-brainer captain’s pick.
Hull said she has sent out letters requesting a sponsor exemption to several LPGA events and is awaiting responses.
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Summer school: Seventeen teenagers are in the field at next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., though that number might soon change. Ariya Jutanugarn’s quest to play in a third U.S. Women’s Open will depend largely on the results of a recent MRI.
Jutanugarn injured her right shoulder chasing older sister Moriya down a tee box, looking to douse her with a bottle of water. Ariya Jutanugarn, now ranked 16th in the world, expected to hear the results on Thursday. She missed last year’s USWO after falling on a nail shortly before her qualifier.
• Lydia Ko, 16, will be the most talked-about teen heading into Sebonack. Already an LPGA champion before she could drive, Ko will play in her second USWO next week. Ko headed to Sebonack for an early viewing after the Wegmans LPGA Championship in Pittsford, N.Y. With fellow Kiwi Jason McCarty as head pro, she should have good notes on the Jack Nicklaus/Tom Doak design.
Ko gets warmed up this week at the LPGA event in Arkansas (literally, temperatures in the 90s), where she’s playing on a sponsor exemption.
“Occasionally people start staring at me and I’m like, ‘Why are they staring at me?’ ” Ko said. “I think I know why, but, yeah, I try and be normal.”
• Although it’s shocking to see Annie Park bow out to No. 64 seed Ciera Min in Round 1 of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, it’s probably not the worst thing in the world. Park shared medalist honors in Norman, Okla., with Doris Chen after both shot 68-68. Clearly Park’s game hasn’t disappeared, and now she has time to return home to New York and rest before the Women’s Open. Park will be among the favorites to win low-amateur honors on Long Island.