COMMENTARY I Stacy Lewis is picking up where she left off at the end of 2012. The reigning LPGA Player of the Year shot a 9-under pat 63 on Thursday, Feb. 21 to take a three-shot lead after the first round of the Honda LPGA Thailand.
Her performance matched the low round of her career and put her in contention for her sixth official LPGA win after tying for 15th last week in her season opener.
After winning four times in 2012 and becoming the first American to earn Player of the Year honors since 1994, Lewis is trying to guard against burdening herself with unrealistic expectations.
"I think that's the hardest part," Lewis said in a release from tournament officials. "Every year is going to be different. It's going to work out a different way and [I've been told] just to keep the expectations down. To win Player of the Year, a lot of things have to go your way and a lot of things have to go right. So it's kind of putting your head down and just getting back to work. You can't go out there and expect to … I mean you want to win every week but realistically you can't win every week. So you have to kind of take the expectations down and go through the process of hitting good golf shots and come up with a good round."
Lewis started the week with a new driver in her bag after spending part of the offseason looking for a good fit.
"I spent four weeks over the offseason trying to find a driver that I like," she said, "between Mizuno who is my sponsor and Taylor Made as well. I have the Taylor Made R1. I wanted something with a higher ball flight. I didn't need to hit it further. I just wanted a ball flight a little better. Luckily I hit it a little further so I had to play my practice round on Tuesday and get some different lines off the tees than I was used to because I'm hitting it a little further. All in all it's a good thing."
And make no mistake, Lewis' success is a good thing for the LPGA Tour, which can always benefit from the presence of American stars in its ranks, or, more to the point, a single, dominant American star.
Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer have worn that mantle in recent years. Now that burden is on Lewis' shoulders, at least for the time being. And make no mistake, it is much more challenging in today's frenzied atmosphere for an athlete to perform at a sustained level of excellence, particularly in an individual sport.
But from what we've seen up to now, on the golf course and off, Stacy Lewis seems well-equipped to deal with the challenges that lie ahead,
Rick Woelfel is the editor at publisher at Womensgolfreport.net. He has covered the LPGA for various outlets for more than 25 years.