World #1 LPGA Player Stacy Lewis takes time out to Chat
Chatting it up with STACY LEWIS:
KRAIG KANN: Good afternoon, welcome to the media center at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. It is a pleasure to be joined by the No. 1 ranked player in all of women’s golf. Stacy Lewis has just joined us, ran in here. What have you been doing this morning?
STACY LEWIS: I’ve just been practicing and had to get a quick bite to eat before I came in here.
It’s been a relaxing day for me.
KRAIG KANN: Has it been relaxing ever since you took over No. 1? I think that’s what a lot people want to know.
STACY LEWIS: It’s been chaos is what it’s been. I think with all the requests and all the attention, I expected it, but it was a little bit overwhelming. I was glad we had a week off last week and just got away and took some time off and really just cleared my head.
Coming back this week I feel really relaxed.
Q. Talk about March 18th, the day you took over No. 1. Obviously you’d been playing good golf for quite a long time, but there is a difference between a building process and, wham, it hits you right in the face.
STACY LEWIS: It was all of a sudden, Wham, it hit me. Just coming off Singapore, the win there, I thought I could get to No. 1 maybe this week with a good week here. But to come out the way I did in Phoenix and then that Saturday with everything that happened on Saturday, you know, I was more motivated for my caddie than I was for No. 1 at that point.
I wanted to redeem what happened on Saturday, and I really wanted to win that tournament for him. I don’t know. The No. 1 ranking really wasn’t in my head until my dad gave me a hug and said, You’re No. 1 in the world.
KRAIG KANN: Last year you talked about the process of trying to get to No. 1. I know Yani Tseng had a terrific start to her season in 2012. This year you want to validate, if you will, but you’ve been playing great golf. How do you feel about the start of the year and the importance of continuing to play great golf.
STACY LEWIS: Obviously I’m excited about it. I wasn’t really sure what to expect coming off of last year. I kept the expectations low. I didn’t want to set the bar too high and be extremely disappointed or anything like that.
So I’ve played great. I’m comfortable out there. I’m comfortable being up here. I don’t know, I just feel really relaxed right now.
KRAIG KANN: Questions.
While they are doing that, let me ask you some statistical questions. You are leading the tour right now in scoring average, birdies, eagles, rounds in the 60s, many different things. Do you need all of those things this week here at the Kraft Nabisco Championship? What’s the one thing you think will stand out and determine the winner?
STACY LEWIS: I don’t think you can take a certain stat. I think playing smart here is really what wins. I think the greens already have the light color to them; they’re going to get firm and fast. You got to play smart. Maybe run some shots in out of the rough. I think that’s what wins it here.
KRAIG KANN: Questions.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the process since leaving college? Would it be hard to be No. 1 when you’re a college player? And does to take some time to become a full‑time pro once leaving to get into that mode and be a professional?
STACY LEWIS: I think it’s different for everybody. I think some players can come out right away and be very comfortable and be successful. But for me, it was more of a slow kind of learning process. That’s the way I had done it through junior golf, amateur golf, college golf, so I didn’t really expect anything different.
I think all players are different. Some people come out and love everything about the tour, love the spotlight and they’re comfortable there. I don’t think I was my first few years out here. I just had to grow into it.
KRAIG KANN: You said you’re comfortable now sitting right here. Why? What’s different?
STACY LEWIS: I don’t know. I guess I’m just more comfortable with who I am and more comfortable being in front of people. I mean, certainly I think the kid that went to college and didn’t speak unless spoken to would not be up on this stage right now.
It’s something I’ve had to learn how to do just when you play good golf.
KRAIG KANN: Pressure comes with it.
Q. Would it be hard to juggle college and pro golf at the same time like Michelle did, for example? Is that a pretty tough thing to handle?
STACY LEWIS: I would think so. I don’t know. It’s tough in college I think just playing a sport in college. It requires a lot of time management. I mean, you certainly have to have your time away from the sport.
So I think you just learn how to manage yourself and your game a little bit in college. That’s something that really helped me a lot.
Q. A lot of athletes, golfers included, don’t like to talk about their goals; they keep them private. They say, Well, yeah, that would be great someday. You’ve been pretty open about the fact that since you won here your goal was to be No. 1.
STACY LEWIS: Yes.
Q. Why did you always feel comfortable saying that, whereas others would never say that?
STACY LEWIS: I don’t know. I mean, I think if you can’t talk about it you obviously aren’t comfortable being there. You know, I wanted to be in this position. It’s not something that I think about all the time. I kind of put a big goal out there, and then I make many goals for myself to get there.
It wasn’t something that teeing if up the first round I said, I want to be No. 1 in the world, because you can’t do that. It’s something that I wanted to be here. If you’re comfortable talking about it, then I think you’re comfortable being there.
Q. Describe the difference in your game from a ball striking and putting perspective in the two years since you’ve won here? Your game then and now, how much different is it?
STACY LEWIS: Ball striking‑wise it’s not a lot different. We’ve just been working on little things with my swing. I hit it good then and still hitting it pretty good now.
I think the biggest difference in my putter. I’ve really gotten comfortable with it, especially over the last year. Reading greens better, better speed, and just seeing more putts go in. That certainly helps the confidence level.
Q. Other than obviously playing good golf, what do you think it’ll take for you to maintain this No. 1 world ranking? Also, I wanted to know what you think about Annika having stayed there for so long? Is there anything you’ve taken from her career and tried to emulate?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I think the first question I was asked when I became No. 1 is, How long are you going to stay there? I can’t even think about that.
There are so many things that I can’t control. I can’t control how Yani plays, how Inbee Park plays. If they go out and play better than me, then I lose the No. 1 ranking. If I go out there and take care of myself, I’ll be at that No. 1 ranking.
So I just have to keep worrying about myself and keep doing what I’m doing. Talking to my mom, I said, I’m going to be the same person that I was before. I’m going to do the sings things, because what I’m doing is working, so there is no reason to get to this point and change everything. I’m still the same person. I’m still going to work hard every day. That’s not going to change.
As far as I guess the Annika part, I think it’s pretty amazing. You look at how long Annika, Lorena, Tiger, how long they stayed that good, and it’s hard. It’s hard to play whenever body expects to you play well and expects you to be up on the leaderboard.
But I think I learned a lot from watching Yani over the last year. She had a couple bad weeks and let it become a burden of staying at No. 1. I’m just going to have fun with it. I am going to play bad some weeks and good some weeks, but I’ll have fun doing it.
KRAIG KANN: Have you spent time talking to Yani or anybody else that’s helped you the most with where you are.
STACY LEWIS: Truthfully, I haven’t talked about it much. It’s a goal, but it’s not something we talk about all the time. More just kind of amongst ‑‑ kind of with my coach. We’re doing the same things. We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing, because what we’re doing is working.
Q. You had the announcement with the logo on your hat. Your shirt is getting full by the way. Some covers of magazines, bug article in Sports Illustrated. The idea of representing, by that I mean representing the LPGA, No. 1, women’s golf, is that difficult? Do you think about that quite often?
STACY LEWIS: I don’t think about it, but do I realize that being in the position I’m in that I am representing the tour. I’m representing my sponsors. I think the tour right now for American golf, we need a face right now. We need people to kind of get aboard and come out and watch us play and see what we have out here.
I think there are a lot of young Americans playing really good golf right now that people don’t know about. I think as a tour we’re moving in the right direction.
I’m really excited to hopefully kind of start it.
Q. And who are some of the young Americans that you’ve noticed and this we should pay attention to?
STACY LEWIS: Jessica Korda. I think she finished inside the top 20 almost every week.
KRAIG KANN: This year.
STACY LEWIS: This year. Gerina Piller has played great lately. Danielle Kang. Just a lot of names that I don’t think people know. Wouldn’t be surprised if they’re up there this week.
Q. I know you said you’re more comfortable up here now. Last night you were in heels and a pretty dress. Are you comfortable in those type of situations now too, doing more the entertaining type thing?
STACY LEWIS: That’s probably the place I’m least comfortable because it’s not my style at all. I’m more comfortable in jeans, a T‑shirt, and flip flops. I’m getting used to it.
Having some helps from my sisters, that definitely that helps the process a little bit. But I realize it’s part of what makes this tour successful and part of the deal when you get to the top. You kind of have to do it.
Just another thing I’ll have to get comfortable with.
Q. Did your sisters take you shopping?
STACY LEWIS: I actually picked that dress out all by myself. They should be pretty impressed with that.
Q. I know you visited your team and watched them play last week. A lot a lot players on their off week don’t go to another state to watch their college team play. Talk about that and your dedication to Arkansas and their reaction to you being there.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, last week I went to Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Arkansas team was playing a college tournament there. I try to get out to one tournament a year just to show my support for the girls, for them.
They ask me a ton questions. What do you do after you make two bogeys in a row? Just golf questions like that just for them to see I’m just Stacy. I’m not anything different to them. They love having me there. I think they played their round, and I think the other teams were kind of talking about how cool it was I was there.
I think they got more excited about it as the other girls talked about it because they just know me as Stacy.
It is pretty cool being there, to come back. I talked to a lot of the coaches there and I said, We need to develop these players better coming out of college and get them more prepared for the tour.
So that was part of me going there, is to show them ‑‑ be able to show them how it can be done, and that they don’t have to turn pro at 18 or 20. They can finish school, get a degree, and then come out and be successful, too.
Q. You said you haven’t talked to your colleagues out here much about the world No. 1 ranking. Has anybody done anything different to you, whether it’s your family or fans on Twitter? Do they call you No. 1 now or have a new nickname for you?
STACY LEWIS: Not really. I don’t know. Over the least last few weeks I’ve gotten a lot of congratulations on getting to No. 1 and things like that. At Kia, you don’t want to get to a point where you don’t want to hear it anymore, but golf is a sport where you’re only as good as your last day, your last round.
I was playing at Kia and concerned about what I was doing in that tournament, and I had forgotten about the No. 1 ranking and people were talking about it.
Now I have to work twice as hard to stay there, so you enjoy it for a second and kind of move on.
KRAIG KANN: Fun moments with the Mike Wan bobble head doll on Twitter.
STACY LEWIS: I did.
KRAIG KANN: I don’t think a lot people know about that side of the you. What does drive Stacy Lewis outside of the game? What do you do for fun?
STACY LEWIS: I mean, I’m very relaxed. I like having fun, screwing around. I actually sent out a Tweet ‑‑ I tweeted, Tiger, congrats. Welcome back to No. 1. Apparently in 100 and whatever characters people couldn’t find the humor in that. Some people found the humor and some didn’t.
Just trying to show that side of me, that I joke around. I’m not all that serious all the time off the course. The tournament in Phoenix gave me that bobble head, so I was like, We’ve got to go have some fun with it.
KRAIG KANN: And you put it in a lot interesting places. Is it in your golf bag this week?
STACY LEWIS: No. It didn’t make the trip this week.
KRAIG KANN: Here. All right.
Q. Obviously this place is very special to you. Talk about why it’s so special and maybe it suits you.
STACY LEWIS: Well, I love this golf course more than anything. I love playing here. The walk up to 18 is the best walk in golf, I think. You’re in the last few groups on the weekend, it’s the coolest place to be.
It’s eery coming back here and seeing your name on the bridge and stuff like that.
I don’t know. I don’t know why I love it so much. I played well here as an amateur, and since then fell in love with the place.
KRAIG KANN: I don’t think a lot of people know the amount of time you’re putting in on the tour. There are at least two committees that I know of. You share a lot of ideas about where you would like to see the tour go. Is that a positive distraction for you or something you feel like you need to take ownership of?
STACY LEWIS: I think it’s something that I’ve been doing since I came out on tour. It’s not anything that’s really changed over the last few years. I think at the Founders it really kind of hit me, what those ladies did.
They did so many more things than we have to do right now to get this tour up and running. For me to go to a dinner for an hour and talk about the tour and how to make it better doesn’t seem like that big of a sacrifice to me.
I want the tour to be good and us to get better. We have a great product that people don’t know about, and I think we got to to get it going in the right direction.
Q. Does Tiger respond to your Tweet and have you ever met him?
STACY LEWIS: He didn’t respond to it, but we always practice out of the same course in Florida. I haven’t seen him since I won ‑‑ or since he won ‑‑ but I did see him when he won in Torrey, and I told him, Congrats. He just said smiled and said, I’m just trying to keep up with you. It was kind of a cool moment.
Q. Now that you’re on a bigger stage, I’m sure more people who don’t know your story, the back story and the surgery, you’ll be retelling that again. What is that like for you? Do you like retelling that story? Do you like inspiring people in that way or does to get old sometimes?
STACY LEWIS: I think when I first came out on tour I had already kind of told it a lot. I was getting tired of telling it. I realize now if one more person hears my story that didn’t hear it before, then I need to tell it.
I realize I’m in a position that there are a lot of people that look up to me, a lot little kids wearing back braces watching what I’m doing. I don’t mind telling the story. It does get monotonous at times, but if one more person is inspired by it, it’s worth it:
Q. There is a 15‑year‑old playing behind you. What do you expect out of Lydia Ko this week coming to a major? She’s won three times already at 15. What do you think she can do here?
STACY LEWIS: I think she’s kind of ‑‑ ignorance is bliss. I don’t think she realizes how good she is, and I expect her to come out and play really good. She probably doesn’t even really realize it’s major or a big event. Just kind of the way she is. She’s just very calm and relaxed. Probably play pretty well in week.
KRAIG KANN: Obviously this is a big tournament for you. Five majors on the schedule this your, Solheim Cup. You talked about No. 1 and the goal to get there and now that you’re there.
Let’s say 15 years from now you leave the game. You mentioned the founders. What is the biggest thing Stacy Lewis can do for women’s golf?
STACY LEWIS: I want more successful young Americans coming up behind me. If there are kids that are going to school and getting their degrees and graduating and then coming out here and being successful, then I think I did a good thing.
KRAIG KANN: You’ve done some great things already this year. Congratulations, and best of luck this week.
STACY LEWIS: Thank you.
Thank you FastScripts by ASAP Sports for getting this out to us!!!
By Kate Hughes