Stacey Lewis captured her second major championship at the Ricoh Women’s British Open by executing clutch shots on the final two holes at one of the toughest finishes in golf. The final two holes at St. Andrews have provided some of the most dramatic finishes championship golf has ever seen. The 17th and 18th holes are very different in their challenges and require the player to make decisions when confronted with many options.
Stacey showed her resolve by executing the best possible shots over the closing stretch. Knowing she needed a solid finish to post a total that could land her the championship, she set out on thirty minutes of golf that she will never forget. After placing her tee shot in the fairway on the difficult 17th, Lewis was faced with many options as well as perils on her second shot, which many consider one of the toughest shots in golf. Lewis pulled a 5-iron and fired a shot into the 30 mph Scottish winds that landed short of the green and skirted past the treacherous road hole bunker and rolled to within five feet of the hole. She knocked the birdie putt in and strolled to the 18th with a chance to apply more pressure on her competitors.
On the 18th, Lewis found herself 40 yards short of the green after her drive and weighed her options on the approach shot. The pin was located a few paces past the deep false edge called “The Valley of Sin”, and she was between pitching over the deep ravine or putting through it. Lewis made the informed decision and putted the ball over the rolling grounds to about 20 feet past the hole. She promptly rolled the 20 footer in for birdie and essentially sealed the championship.
Stacey Lewis showed resounding poise over the final two holes when many of her competitors did not. Na Yeon Choi held a three shot lead with only six holes to go. In contrast to Lewis, Choi chose to play shots that seemed to be forced under the circumstances. Trailing by one with two holes to play, and Stacey Lewis in the clubhouse, Choi chose to go right at the flag on 17 and landed the ball a few paces short of the pin and watched it release through the green into a difficult spot. She went on to make bogey from the back of the green and end all realistic chances of winning.
Morgan Pressel also found her championship hopes unbound by overly aggressive play on the 17th. Needing two birdies for a chance to post the lead before Lewis, Pressel made an aggressive play much like Choi and suffered a similar result. Her shot was right at the flagstick but landed just a few feet from the pin and went over the green on to the gravel path. She was left with a poor lie and made a great bogey but was eliminated from victory.
Stacey Lewis captured her second major championship with a disciplined mindset and played within her game while her competitor’s forced the issue. Lewis accepted what the golf course was giving her and was able to execute shots that fit the situation. Most champions are crowned because they are able to stay within the moment when others do not. Anyone who plays competitive golf can take something from Lewis’ performance.
* Courtesy of Doug Ferguson. The Golf Channel.