Apr
3
2011
Stacy Lewis Outduels Yani Tseng for a Major Victory at Kraft
By Stephanie Wei under LPGA

Stacy Lewis played practically flawlessly on Sunday, overcoming a two-shot deficit and winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship by three over defending champion Yani Tseng. Lewis, who battled with scoliosis as a kid, fired a three-under 69 to capture her first victory — a major, no less.

A clutch sand save on No. 17 sealed the win. After knocking her tee shot in the front bunker, Lewis hit a crummy bunker shot that ended up on the fringe about 12 feet from the hole. “There’s no sand,” she muttered. She made up for the mistake, trickling in a downhill slider for par.

“I can’t even believe it,” Lewis told the Golf Channel on the 18th green. “I felt like I’m going to throw up all day. It’s awesome…I just couldn’t believe I made it (on the 17th hole). I thought I had a good shot from there, but I just tried to stay calm.”

Meanwhile, world’s No. 1 Yani didn’t have her A game on Sunday.

“I did my best,” said Yani in the post-round presser. “I tried my best today, and I didn’t give her any shots today. So I hung in there until the last putt and smiled the whole way, whole day. So it was good and it was very good experience for me this time.

“Golf is golf, so this is normal. I just didn’t play well.”

And she’s a gracious loser, too.

“I just really want to congratulate Stacy,” said Yani. “She did really awesome today.”

After Lewis sank a three-footer for par on 18, she threw her arms up in celebration and let out a sigh of relief. She was greeted by a group of friends who had been waiting for her by the green, spraying her with celebratory bottles of champagne. Then, as tradition at the Kraft, Lewis and her friends and family took a victory leap into Poppie’s Pond (which probably felt pretty refreshing).

I thought the final-round coverage was excellent and really enjoyed watching the compelling duel between Lewis and Tseng on the back nine. (And on-course commentator Jerry Foltz added great insight.)

It’s especially fun to watch Tseng and Michelle Wie, who finished sixth, pound the ball. Foltzy estimates that Yani is just one club shorter than average hitters on the men’s tour and Michelle would keep up with the guys in the middle of the pack.

If you missed the telecast, I recommend giving the next LPGA tourney a shot — you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.

(AP Photos/Chris Carlson, Reed Saxon)