Stacy Lewis collapses at U.S. Women's Open, as win drought still looms

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Stacy Lewis collapses at U.S. Women's Open, as win drought still looms

LPGA Tour

Stacy Lewis collapses at U.S. Women's Open, as win drought still looms

BEDMINSTER, N.J. – The same intensity that made Stacy Lewis No. 1 in the world is now holding her back. Lewis doesn’t play for money; she only plays to win. But the longer she goes without a title, the more her emotions seem to come into play.

Never mind that a Coast Guard helicopter and a fighter jet chased a small private plane out of the airspace directly over No. 11 while Lewis ping-ponged over the green at the U.S. Women’s Open. (These things can happen when President Donald Trump is on property.) She’d just made four birdies in a row and stood one shot off the lead of Shanshan Feng when she made a triple-bogey seven. Lewis was still only four back with plenty of holes to play, but then called over a rules official on the following hole to complain that the guy holding the microphone for Fox Sports had stepped directly in front of her ball.

She proceeded to bogey the 12th, and watched a one-shot deficit balloon to five.

But still, she wasn’t out of it yet. With two par 5s to go and a leader that was stuck on pars, she could get back to within striking distance.

And then the unthinkable happened. Lewis fatted two wedge shots on the par-5 18th into the hazard and made a 10. She posted a 4-over 76, an unthinkable number for a woman who looked poised to possibly end the day atop the leaderboard not two hours before.

An LPGA official asked Lewis if she’d meet with the press after she walked out of scoring.

“No chance,” Lewis said, twice.

She made a bee-line for the driving range, with steam practically coming out of her ears.

Lewis’ playing partner, Cristie Kerr, didn’t find the commotion in the sky on the 11th hole all that distracting. She said she looked upward only to keep from watching Lewis’ struggles. There was no way to avoid seeing the nightmare that unfolded on the 18th.

“You never want to see that happen to anybody,” said Kerr. “That’s golf. It’s a four-letter word.”

It’s been more than three years since Lewis won on the LPGA. Seventy-seven starts to be exact. This week at Trump National will make 78. In that time, she’s had 12 runner-up finishes.

Lewis will never be the type of player who shows no emotion on the golf course. People can’t expect her to be like an Inbee Park or Lydia Ko. But she’s got to do a better job of letting things go. Bad holes, bad rounds shouldn’t have this deep of an impact.

Lewis’ 11 titles on the LPGA include two majors. She has 98 top-10 finishes in her LPGA career. But she doesn’t care about top 10s. Doesn’t care what people think really either.

At this point it’s only about one thing: Learning how to win again.

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