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June 28, 2008

Stacy Lewis



RHONDA GLENN: Stacy Lewis is our guest. She had a wonderful 67, 6-under par.

Stacy, your first tournament as a professional. This indeed is a championship. Professional golf is pretty good to you so far, huh?

STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it has been. It's been such a great week. I really, I think, over the past couple of years prepared myself for this tournament and turning pro. It's just been great so far.

RHONDA GLENN: Tell us what was the highlight to you of your round? Was there a point where you really felt you saved the round or turned it around?

STACY LEWIS: I would say on 10. I made a pretty -- it was probably 15 feet for par. I think if I hadn't made that putt it was probably the turning point of the round. And it just kind of kept things going from there.

Q. How did you get in position to need a 15-footer for par on 10?

STACY LEWIS: Let's see, not very good shots. Well, I hit 3- wood off the tee and then I laid up and had just -- I had 105 yards and it was kind of an awkward little shot for me and I just came up out of it and it hit short and rolled back, then didn't hit a very good chip shot up there.

But I left it below the hole which was key, so I gave myself a chance to make it.

Q. How surprised are you to be where you are, if you're surprised? And how much has the summer, starting with the Curtis Cup, kind of pushed you in this direction?

STACY LEWIS: Right. Truthfully, I'm not really that surprised. I felt like I could play at this level and compete at this level. It was kind of my goal to put myself into contention to win going into the last day. That's kind of what I try to do at every golf tournament.

I think the Curtis Cup gave me more confidence, knowing I could hit shots under pressure. That's probably the most pressure I've ever played on is that Curtis Cup. That just gave me a lot of confidence.

Q. (Inaudible.)

STACY LEWIS: That was two years ago, I played at the Kraft and finished -- I tied for 5th there. It was just -- I mean I was two shots, I was 2-putts in the last three holes from being tied for the lead. So I think that really showed me that I could play at this level.

Q. Last year in Arkansas the weather-plagued tournament event, but basically you won that, and was that deflating to you to go to all that effort and hard work and win a LPGA event as essentially an amateur and to not really get the credit for it?

STACY LEWIS: Right. It was -- it was pretty tough. That was the best round of my career. And then it was wiped off the books completely. So that was pretty hard.

But I was good -- I thought it was good. I was kind of in the middle of a big controversy and my name got out there. I can say I beat 143 of the best players in the world in one day, so there's nothing wrong with that.

Q. You said you're prepared for this and you're confident. How much will that come into play overnight? Will you have any trouble sleeping with the lead or handling your nerves as far as the next 24 hours or whatever?

STACY LEWIS: I think I'll probably sleep pretty well tonight. I'm pretty tired. I think it's a lot harder to play well than it is to play poorly.

I think I'll sleep pretty well. I'm not even going to think about tomorrow's round until tomorrow comes. And just enjoy tonight, go have some dinner, and get some sleep.

RHONDA GLENN: If I may, Stacy, you had a very debilitating physical condition. Would you just briefly summarize that for those who don't know about it.

STACY LEWIS: I have scoliosis. I found out that I had it when I was 11. And then I went to the doctor for it and I wore just like a hard plastic brace, like around for -- it was supposed to be only a couple of years and then it ended up being seven and a half years.

So -- but I stopped wearing my brace when I was a senior in high school, when it like kind of started. And then found out at the end of my senior year that I was going to have surgery, because the brace didn't work.

So then I waited until May -- after I graduated, waited until May and I had the surgery. They put a rod and five screws in my back, just to straighten my spine out.

And then from there I had to wear a brace for another three months while I was recovering from the surgery. And then I couldn't bend or twist for six months or lift more than five pounds. So I kind of lost some of my muscle, couldn't swing a golf club, couldn't do any of that.

They did let me chip and putt after four months. The short game got better after that.

But then after six months I was free to swing away, do whatever I wanted to do. From there it's been great. I have days where it's sore and days where it hurts, but nothing major.

Q. At the point that you had the surgery in high school, did you go to Arkansas on scholarship or were they holding out hope that you'd get over this? I guess that was kind of a gamble on their part, although obviously it paid off, for you to be on the shelf that long with no real payback for them?

STACY LEWIS: Right. It was -- well, I signed in November, which was before I found out that I was going to have to have surgery. My coach, she knew that I had some back trouble but she didn't know exactly what was going on.

So I signed in November and I think it was kind of February and March I found out that I needed to have the surgery. I was crying. I thought I'd never play college golf. Because I just wanted to play college golf, that was all I wanted to do. And then I thought from there I was done.

And she was great. We called her and she was -- I mean, the first thing she said is, "When's the surgery, I'm coming." So my parents knew and I think we just got the sense of relief that everything was going to be okay from there.

Q. During this time when you had the brace on, did they keep checking periodically, what did they tell you during that time and why did it have to stay on?

STACY LEWIS: I went sometimes every six months, sometimes every three months, just kind of depending. But the main thing was they needed to check it is when I stopped growing, was the key. Is when I stopped growing was when I could get out of the brace because they said your back wouldn't change that much after you stopped growing.

So they'd take x-rays of my growth plates, things like that, and I just didn't stop growing. So two or three years turned into seven and a half, which is not normal, at all.

Q. Was there ever a shadow of a doubt in your mind about the future of your career, that this may stop it? Did you ever think at one point you may not be able to play?

STACY LEWIS: Absolutely. I think when I found out that I had to have surgery I thought I was done playing golf forever.

The doctor, he actually found out that I played golf and we did the surgery a little different way so I had more flexibility.

I just wanted to play golf. I just wanted to qualify for my team. I didn't think I'd win my tournaments. I didn't think about any of that. I just wanted to get back out there and play again.

Q. How many days have you been a pro now? What was the date of turning pro?

STACY LEWIS: It was the qualifier. It was the 9th or 10th of June, I think.

RHONDA GLENN: We can check that for you.

STACY LEWIS: I had to call -- I had to call the USGA office before I played my qualifier to turn pro. It was that day. The 9th, yeah.

Q. Assuming that you'll be experiencing some nerves on the first tee tomorrow when you're introduced, what's the most nervous you've been on the first tee going back historically? How did you do in that event and what do you do as a player when you feel the nerves to try to calm that situation down?

STACY LEWIS: I think the most nervous I've been was at St. Andrews at the Curtis Cup. I didn't handle the nerves very well. It was the fourball the first day in the afternoon. I was playing with Amanda Blumenherst and I hit first and just actually duffed it down the first fairway.

RHONDA GLENN: How far did it go?

STACY LEWIS: Maybe a hundred yards. It just barely got over the road. It was pretty embarrassing, but I just laughed about it. But I was the most nervous I've been.

I think that will definitely help me. Because it was a fairway wood off the tee, and that's what I'll be hitting tomorrow, so I guess that would be a good thing.

RHONDA GLENN: What did you learn out of that to help you deal with your nerves tomorrow?

STACY LEWIS: I think just you've got to stay calm. Today I just tried to smile and laugh and enjoy it. I think the more you smile and enjoy it, the more -- you can't think about the situation you're in. I was joking around with my dad and things like that. I've just got to enjoy it tomorrow.

Q. Just for clarification, when you were wearing a brace for seven and a half years, were you playing with a brace or not?

STACY LEWIS: Well, I had to wear it 18 hours a day. So I got six hours off. I mean, like if I wanted to swim or take a shower. But most of the time I used to where it to play golf and to practice. But I wore it to bed, I wore it to school, all those kind of things.

Q. A lot of young women players today would have not gone to college. Did that ever cross your mind that with your back consideration did you feel like, well, I want to get on with this and go play for as long as I can play?

STACY LEWIS: No, I mean, it was never really an option for me, I think, to not go to college. I think just my parents said that, you know, you're going to college, you're getting an education. And they just instilled that in us when we were young.

I loved college. I loved every part of it. A lot of people asked me after my junior year, after I won Nationals, "Are you going to turn pro? Are you going to turn pro?"

I had no reason to turn pro. I loved the team part of it. I loved -- I mean, I loved going to school. I loved going to class. It was perfect. It was a perfect fit for me.

Q. What did you get your degree in?

STACY LEWIS: Finance and Accounting, double major.

Q. When you turned pro, you went straight to the Sectional. Was there any provision that you get into that Sectional as an amateur and you had to stay that way or how did that work?

STACY LEWIS: I was exempt through first stage. I think Curtis Cup and a couple of other things got me through as an amateur. But because I played in the Open last year, that got me through first stage, so that's how I was able to get through.

Q. How do you look at tomorrow? Do you feel as though -- do you look at this as nothing to lose or what?

STACY LEWIS: You know, I don't even know. I've accomplished my goal for the week. It was just to put myself in contention. And whatever happens tomorrow, it happens.

I hope I win. I want to win more than -- probably more than anybody here. But I have to hit a lot of good golf shots before I win this golf tournament.

RHONDA GLENN: You want to win more than anybody here. That's a very good comment. And why? Why would you want to win, would you think, more than anybody?

STACY LEWIS: I don't know, it just -- I only play in golf tournaments to win. I'm not here to make the cut or finish top-10 or do any of that. I'm here to win.

People might see that as arrogant, but I think if you're not here to win, you're never going to be successful.

RAND JERRIS: For the record, could we have you go over your card?

RHONDA GLENN: No. 1, you had a par. No. 2, a birdie.

STACY LEWIS: Yes, 2, I hit it in the fairway and then I hit a 5- wood on to the green and two-putted for birdie.

RHONDA GLENN: No. 4, birdie.

STACY LEWIS: Let's see, I hit a 5-iron there. It was pretty windy when we were playing there. I was about five feet short of the hole and made that.

RHONDA GLENN: No. 8, birdie.

STACY LEWIS: 8, I hit a 5-wood off the tee. I was a little short and right. I was actually on the fringe, just hit a perfect putt right in the middle.

RHONDA GLENN: For the third par-3, No. 14, a birdie.

STACY LEWIS: Again, I was off the green, just short of hole high left.

RHONDA GLENN: What did you hit?

STACY LEWIS: 4-iron. 4-iron there.

RHONDA GLENN: The putt was about how long?

STACY LEWIS: I don't even know. 20, 25 feet. It was just off the edge.

RHONDA GLENN: Then you birdied the very next hole, the 15th, the par-4.

STACY LEWIS: Right. I hit a little 6-iron in. I was kind of in between clubs and just felt I needed to get it up there and I had a pretty tricky putt that I had to just kind of die in the hole. And it was just perfect.

RHONDA GLENN: 18, what did you hit as your approach shot and the length of the putt, please.

STACY LEWIS: Let's see, I hit 3-wood, and actually thought I was going to get closer than I did. I hit a really good shot, but it was a lot of wind and it didn't roll out. I had about 45 yards, a chip shot up the hill. And chipped it past six, seven feet or so. And somehow, I don't know how that putt went in, but I guess things are kind of meant to be.

Q. Could you go back to the back just one more time. From the time you had surgery when was it before you could play your first round of golf?

STACY LEWIS: Well, it was six months before I could actually even turn to swing a golf club. And I don't think -- I didn't play a round until maybe nine months after. I just wasn't -- I wasn't strong enough and I didn't feel ready. It was just hard to trust it.

Q. Can you look back and was there one point where you knew that you were going to be good again, that you weren't just going to be playing golf again?

STACY LEWIS: I don't know. Probably when the following -- like the following year after I red-shirted, our team had a qualifier. And we played like five rounds to qualify for the tournament. I won it by 20 shots (laughter).

So that was a pretty good indication, I guess.

Q. What do you do going forward as far as LPGA? You get X number of at bats in tournaments, this does or doesn't count? What's the number and you've got to reach how many on the money list? It's different from the men and the women, I can never remember the numbers.

STACY LEWIS: We found out some interesting rules this year. I need to get Top80 on the money list. You can play in six events as a non-member of the Tour. But like the Open doesn't count in your six, but the Open -- the money you make also doesn't count as getting your card. Like the British Open doesn't count.

So I'm working on getting sponsor exemptions to play and to earn enough money to be in the Top-80.

Q. What if you won?

STACY LEWIS: If I won? I'm pretty sure --

RHONDA GLENN: When Laura Davies won in 1987 she was not an official member of the LPGA Tour, and the LPGA granted her a special membership and she became an official member as a result of her victory.

Q. You can take care of it all tomorrow.

STACY LEWIS: That would be pretty nice.

Q. You've putted really well the last couple of days. How many over ten feet did you make today?

STACY LEWIS: Well, two of them were from off the green. Gosh, I made a lot of putts, probably four or five of them outside ten feet. I made the one on 10 for a par and a couple of birdie putts.

Q. Any reason? Just have a good feel?

STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think I was just reading them well today and my speed was perfect. I think speed is the key to making putts around here. I don't know, I was hitting good putts the last couple of days and they just didn't go in. I guess they finally went in today.

RHONDA GLENN: Stacy, obviously you've played well on all kinds of different grasses. The Women's Amateur out at Pumpkin Ridge had different kind of greens, St. Andrews had different greens, you were 5-0 in the Curtis Cup. But you're from the Woodlands.


RHONDA GLENN: Bermudagrass.


RHONDA GLENN: Bentgrass and bent greens, how do you adapt so well?

STACY LEWIS: I've been in Arkansas for five years and we have bentgrass. When you go and play in college you have to adjust to different courses, because they're different every week when you go, so I think that's really helped me.

RHONDA GLENN: Thanks so much. Lots of luck tomorrow.

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