Inspiring Stacy Lewis set to shine at Dubai Ladies Masters
Even while looking at the darkest of clouds, you can rest assured that Stacy Lewis will only see the silver lining.
It all started from a very young age when she refused to give in to intense pain caused by scoliosis – a condition which causes the spine to curve.
To counter that, she needed to wear a back brace for nearly seven years – for almost 18 hours every day – before getting surgery done at the age of 18.
That would make golf almost impossible, you’d think. But that’s definitely not how Lewis thought. Today, the 28-year-old is the world No3 and winner of two Major championships and six other tournaments on the LPGA Tour in a short professional career of four years.
This year, she also became the world No1, albeit for just four weeks, earlier in the season.
Lewis is also the firm favourite to win this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, which starts at Emirates Golf Club from today, having not finished outside the top-eight since the beginning of July – a stretch of 10 tournaments.
One of them was the British Women’s Open, her second Major win. While others may consider the condition debilitating, Lewis credits scoliosis for making her what she is today.
“I got five or six hours a day where I didn’t have to wear the brace, and my doctor always encouraged me to play sports, do what other kids were doing,” said the Palm Beach Gardens resident.
“I saw that a round of golf took at least four hours and you put some practice in there, it pulled me away from having to wear the brace and without even having to think about it. The time of the day where I didn’t have to wear it was when I went to the golf course and I really think that’s why I started loving golf.”
Her initial love affair with the game is not the only story where her optimism shines through. On Wednesday, she was asked if the fact that she is playing the Majlis course for the first time might hinder her chances of winning.
Lewis said: “Shanshan (Feng) won last year and it was her first time playing here. So, I don’t think it will be too much of a disadvantage. In fact, I think I have a little bit of an advantage because I heard from others that the course is playing different from previous years; a little bit firmer and definitely some run-off places on the greens. I don’t know anything different, which I think will kind of help me there.”
And when she was asked about the growing influence of Asian girls on the LPGA Tour, she replied: “We get asked every week in the States where the American players are and kind of what’s going on.
“I took it as motivation to just kind of go and play well so I didn’t have to answer those questions anymore. It’s been cool for me to kind of lead the way for the American players.”
After winning two events early in the season, Lewis toppled Yani Tseng as the No1 player in the world, but the reign lasted just four weeks before she was overthrown by the brilliant Inbee Park, who won the first three Majors of the year.
Lewis got even with Park when she prevented her from achieving the Slam by winning the Women’s British Open at the historic Old Course at St Andrews.
And she is once again craving to get back on top of the world.
Lewis said: “At the end of last year, I kind of thought that maybe in the middle of summer, if I played well in the Majors, I could get up to No1.
“It really surprised me how quickly I got there. I jumped out to two quick wins to start the year, and then it was really kind of a shock. I mean, I didn’t really know what to expect and it was crazy, just all the media requests and the fans wanting your time. It was a little bit overwhelming.
“So my goal is to get back there, just so I can actually get to enjoy it a little bit. Now that I know what to expect, perhaps it will make it a little bit easier, too.”