Stacy Lewis wants ANA Inspiration victory, not another runner-up finish

Stacy Lewis Mission Hills 2017 Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Stacy Lewis wants ANA Inspiration victory, not another runner-up finish

LPGA Tour

Stacy Lewis wants ANA Inspiration victory, not another runner-up finish

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Stacy Lewis didn’t sleep well after the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She’d finished second for the 12th time since she last won on the LPGA at the 2014 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

“It’s not fun,” said Lewis of the close calls.

People ask her about it all the time.

Mostly, Lewis said, she moves on “pretty quick.”

But there are other times when that number, 12, hits hard, and she asks herself the obvious question: Why does it keep happening to me?

Last week Lewis opened the Kia Classic with a 73.

“Afterwards, that number (12), popped in my head,” she said.

When are the scores going to show how I’m actually playing?

At the ANA Inspiration, where Lewis, 32, recorded her first LPGA victory in 2011, she’s feeling good about all parts of her game. She opened the season with a third-place showing in the Bahamas and, of course, tied for second in Phoenix.

“I’m not looking for a golf swing or a putting stroke,” she said. “I feel like everything’s there, and I’m really excited because this is one of my favorite courses we play all year.”

In nine starts on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course, Lewis has five top-5 finishes, including one as an amateur in 2007. She fell in love with the place back then, even though the golf course hasn’t been as firm or the rough as thick as she’d like it to be in recent years.

It’s not just the golf course that has changed in Lewis’ time on tour. It’s flat out harder to win these days.

“It’s crazy how good everybody is now,” said Lewis, an 11-time winner who has 25 career second-place finishes. “You know, everyone talks about the American players maybe aren’t doing as well, this and that … it’s so hard to win out here. It’s the best players in the world. The entire world is cleaning up on this tour every single week, and it is hard to win out here.”

Meg Mallon, who counseled Lewis early on in the drought, agrees with the depth of talent, particularly from young players on tour who lack the scar tissue.

“It’s easy to win with no history,” said Mallon, who will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame later this year.

Betsy King believes Lewis’ next big break might happen on a tougher venue, where Lewis typically holds the advantage as a shotmaker.

“Sometimes you can feel it,” said King. “Something’s going to break her way.”

Like the time King holed out from the bunker for birdie on the 16th hole at this championship in 1987 and went on to defeat Patty Sheehan in a playoff.

One year ago, Lewis opened up at this event in an emotional press conference about how her life priorities had shifted since fiance Gerrod Chadwell came into the picture.

She’s now a married a woman who is less concerned about being World No. 1 and more concerned about doing what’s right for her.

“I know what I need to do to play my best,” said Lewis.

The only thing left to do is win.

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