New No. 1 Lewis ready to enjoy ranking supremacy
CARLSBAD, California (AFP) –
Coming off LPGA victories at Singapore and Phoenix, American Stacy Lewis plays her first event as the World No. 1 of women’s golf starting Thursday at the $1.7 million Kia Classic.
By winning her seventh career title at last week’s LPGA Founders Cup, 2012 LPGA Player of the Year Lewis overtook Taiwan’s Yani Tseng for the top spot in the new rankings last Monday.
“It was a little strange definitely to see myself there,” Lewis said. “I don’t think it’s really kind of hit me over the last two days. I didn’t realize it was such a big deal at the time, but it has kind of hit me the more I’ve talked about it and the more people that have said congratulations.”
Lewis will try to continue her success streak at Aviara Golf Club in quest of a $255,000 top prize in an event that serves as the final tuneup for the first women’s major of the season, the $2 million Kraft Nabisco Championship.
“I don’t know what I’m looking forward to. I just know that I’m going to have fun,” Lewis said. “I know there’s a lot of people that would love to be in my position right now and that’s why I just want to have fun and enjoy it.”
Tseng, the defending Kia Classic champion seeking a 16th career crown this week, set the rankings pace for 109 weeks and sent Lewis a congratulations message that was special.
“The coolest one I think is the one I got from Yani,” Lewis said. “I know she may have said that she wanted to lose that spot to kind of help her, but I know she didn’t want to lose No. 1 and she was very just very nice to me — congratulations, you played awesome — and kind of added at the end that she was coming after me now and to watch out.
“We kind of have a cool relationship built over the last few years and I think it’s something that’s going to continue over the next couple.”
Lewis is not setting any goals for how long she might reign.
“I’m not going to say I want to be in this position for a certain number of weeks or years because you can’t do that — there are too many other good players out here,” Lewis said.
“So I’m going to just enjoy this position and keep trying to win golf tournaments.”
Lewis also spoke to the growing globalization of the LPGA, whose 28 events include 14 at US venues, one fewer than last year’s American total.
“The whole game is becoming more global just because of the players that we have,” Lewis said.
“We have players from Thailand, so we have a tournament in Thailand. We have players in Japan, so we have a tournament in Japan. I think it’s fair to say we go play where our players are from, and I think that’s only fair to them. They come and play here, so we should go play there, too.
“At the same time, it’s a US-based tour and we want to keep it that way, so I think the more events we can get in the US is definitely always better. We’ve added some domestic events. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction but I think it would be unfair if we didn’t go play where all our stars are from.”