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Lewis Looks to Get Closer to Tseng in World Rankings
Though six points behind top-ranked Yani Tseng, No. 2-ranked Stacy Lewis is gradually moving closer to the superstar from Taiwan, who's been struggling in recent months.
Lewis has already made up ground in 2012 on Tseng thanks to victories at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in April and June's ShopRite LPGA Classic. The former All-American at Arkansas has 8.52 average points in the Rolex Rankings, while Tseng has 14.60. China's Shanshan Feng is close behind in third at 8.42.
The 27-year-old Lewis, who also leads the LPGA money list with $1,122,479, is in North Plains, Ore., west of Portland for the Safeway Classic. The $1.5 million, 54-hole LPGA event starts Friday on the Ghost Creek course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.
On the eve of the tournament Lewis met with reporters and discussed her season as well as her thoughts on Tseng and the 2016 Rio Olympics, when golf will return as a medal sport.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis into the interview room. Thank you so much for joining us today. Always great to be back here in Portland, I'm sure, beautiful weather, beautiful golf course. I guess your initial thoughts being back here and how does this course suit your game?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I always love coming here. The weather is always nice. It seems like we don't really get any bad weather. The golf course you always know will be in good shape, so it's nice to come back to that. It's a golf course you have to hit it straight on, and you have to make a lot of putts. I think that is the key. But the greens are tricky, so it makes it tough. You know, I think they change 9 back to a par 5, so I think that stretch of 8, 9, and 10, you can really make a move there in the middle of the round. It makes it fun and exciting a little bit.
MODERATOR: Talk about making a move. It's been quite a season for you, two wins already, 10 top-10s, you're leading the money list, and also leading in Rolex Player of the Year ranks. What's this year been like for you? I know we talked a lot about the goals that you set at the beginning of the season, and I know you've bypassed most of them already. What do you do in terms of reaching out? Do you look at the final few months of the season and what other goals have you set for yourself?
STACY LEWIS: It's strange. I think I find myself every week checking those rankings to make sure it's actually true. It's nice because now players are kind of starting to realize how well I am playing, and other players on Tour are coming up to me and paying attention to what I'm doing and trying to figure that out. That's what I was doing a couple of years ago, and I've got to kind of keep the pedal down and keep doing what I'm doing and not look at those rankings and not pay attention to what everybody else is doing and take care of my own game. If I can get another win and be in contention a couple more times this year, I'll be right where I want to be at the end of the year.
Q. You had a great finish last week in Toledo, and I know that's a busy week for you with all the family that you have there. What was that week like? I know you had that experience with Arkansas as well, and now kind of getting that hometown feel?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it was another hometown week. It was tough. I think I was up at 6:00 or 7:00 every morning and didn't sit down until 8:00 or 9:00 at night every day. It was a long week. It was nice to finish on a high note. Over the years, I haven't played well there, so I wasn't really that surprised that I kind of struggled the first two days. I don't know why I just don't play well on that golf course. So it was nice to finish it off good and get some momentum going into this week.
Q. Having moved up to number two in the world rankings, have you done the math and figured out what it's going to take?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, if anybody can figure out what the math is to move up the rankings, I'd like to know, because I have no idea how those things work. I know it's the average points, and Yani won so many times last year that it would take a year like Yani had to pass her this year. So I know it's probably going to take some time, but I've just got to keep chipping away. I know we're getting closer to her, but she's not going to be in a slump for a long time. So got to take advantage of her not playing as well as she'd like right now.
Q. Usually this time of the year you're done with all the majors, but now they pushed the British back to September. Does that change how this month stacks up for you?
STACY LEWIS: I think it does, because there is another important tournament coming up that we're here this week kind of preparing for. Usually we're coming off of the British and coming off such a high that people are kind of low on energy and trying to kind of get through it. But now you've got to keep your energy up and keep working hard. So it's definitely a little different this year.
Q. You talked about how you're just worrying about your own game. Can you talk about what's working so well in your game to get you to this position right now?
STACY LEWIS: I was looking at that the other day, and I think I'm second or third in greens and regulation and putts for green in regulation. I think that combination sets your scoring numbers, and that's been the difference in the numbers. But I think overall, my swing has kind of fully gotten better over the last probably year and a half where it's a lot more solid now. And this year I've putted so good that that's the difference. You win golf tournaments with your putter. You don't win it with your driver. So your golf swing can be as good as you want, but if you don't make the putts, you're not going to win anything. So I've just been working on my speed and little things, but seeing putts go in, you get confidence from that.
Q. Pumpkin Ridge, talk about how your game suits this course? Is there a lot here that is the toughest one for you?
STACY LEWIS: I think it suits my game. I think you have to hit it straight. The rough's not up as much as it has been. But there are some tricky holes where can you get blocked out by trees and go through fairways. You really have to drive it well. Then from there, the greens are tricky. They're tough to read. So I think that suits me. I think I'm a pretty good green reader, and at the end of the day, it's just making putts. I think 17 and 18 are going to be important, and then that stretch of 8, 9, and 10, those par 5s are important. I think the hardest hole out here, I don't know - there are a couple that are just the driving, I think 12, the little dogleg around the corner, that is a tough driving hole. Each hole kind of has their own little things that can jump up and get you. I've seen on 15, I drove it into one of those left bunkers one day, and I got that out of the way yesterday, so maybe that won't happen. But each hole has - 17 can jump up and get you if you're not careful. So it's a golf course you really have to think your way around.
Q. We had Yani in here yesterday, and you were talking about you don't expect her to be in a slump for long. But how surprised has everyone around here been with how she's playing? We saw her miss one cut all of last year on this tremendous run. Even at the start of this season, she's coming off back to back missed cuts. Hasn't had a Top 10 finish since the Sybase Match Play back in May. What happened? I know golfers always go through ups and downs, but is it just as surprising to you guys as it is to a lot of other people to see her in this prolonged little bit of a slump?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think it's more because of how well she played last year. She was on such a roll last year, to see her struggle. I played with her at Wegmans in Rochester the first two days and she had a bad first day, and when she does that, she bounces back the next day. So it's definitely surprising. I think everybody was saying the same thing about Rory not too long ago. We've got a major coming up. And if Yani gets out there and wins the British again, I don't think she's in a slump anymore. I don't know. I think golf is so up and down, so fickle with your confidence and the golf course and the bounces you get. It's just the way it is. I think she's going to win again before the end of the year. I wouldn't be surprised if she's up there at the British.
Q. In this season have you seen the benefits of when you get that confidence rolling and you feel like your game is coming together? You get those two put together and it turns into one of these tremendous runs?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, that's what I learned. I played with Yani a lot last year when she won. To watch her over every putt, she hit it like it was going to go in. The speed was there, it was firm, it was in the back of the hole, and I kind of learned that from her. I think to have that confident look and the way you carry yourself into a shot, that's what she looked like last year. That's what made it intimidating, because she looked like over every shot she was going to pull it off. She doesn't have that now, but that's one thing I saw in her that I've taken into my game this year.
Q. I was wondering if you guys among the American players have talked about the Olympics and getting on that team, even though it's four years off?
STACY LEWIS: I think everybody's talked about it a little bit. Just Americans have the Solheim Cup where we can represent. But a lot of players from Australia and other parts of the world, that's going to be their main deal. As a Tour, it's going to be great for our Tour, and it's going to be good exposure to get us out on the national stage, get us on NBC, and get that good exposure that the guys get every week. I think it will be great for our Tour and for people to see that. I was talking with my caddie last week. He said, yeah, it would be pretty cool to getting to the opening ceremonies and hang out with the athletes in the other sports. And they're gearing up four years for that one week that they compete. Just to see their mentality and how they go about their business there will be pretty interesting.
Q. Sounds like they're talking about a standard 72 hole stroke play, would you like that or like to see a team kind of thing?
STACY LEWIS: I would like to see the team thing, just for the country part of it, and to make it different from a major a Ryder Cup or Solheim Cup. Just a different format so it has some sort of different meaning to it.
Q. Do you have a lot of fun watching the Olympics over the last couple of weeks and getting that sense that the next time this is happening, we're going to have that chance to be out there and showcasing our sport?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I was watching the closing ceremonies, and they had the people from Rio come out. I mean, it was just cool to know that the next Olympics we have a chance to be there. I think right now you have to be in the top 15 in the world rankings to guarantee your spot. As long as I can hang around there, I'd love to be there. I mean, any time you get to represent your country and step out there with the red, white and blue and represent the United States of America, that is the best honor an athlete can have.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.