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December 3, 2013

Stacy Lewis


BETHAN CUTLER:  Delighted to welcome world No. 3 Stacy Lewis to the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters.  If we can start with your impressions of Dubai and Emirates Golf Club.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, Dubai is a place that I have always wanted to come to.  I've heard so many good things about the city and the tournament and it's been a place I've always wanted to come, so when I got the opportunity, I definitely jumped on it.  It's definitely exceeded my expectations.  I don't know what I expected but the city was not quite what I expected.  Haven't been able to do much sightseeing.  Kind of plan to do that as the week goes on sightsee, and just a nice place to end the season and a nice, relaxing week.
BETHAN CUTLER:  And what are your impressions of Emirates Golf Club?
STACY LEWIS:  My first impressions are that you have to drive it well.  There's some tricky holes that dog‑leg and so I feel like you just really have to drive it well, and then if you have it in the fairway, you can make some birdies.
So I think it's just going to be playing it smart and hopefully as the week goes on, just learn the golf course a little bit more.

Q.  How do you assess your year?
STACY LEWIS:  For me, I think it was the best year I've ever had.  Three wins and a major, especially winning the British Open at St. Andrews was definitely probably the highlight of my career.  And I've just played some really consistent golf.
I don't really know what to explain it by other than I've been kind of slowly getting better with every little part of my game.  It's just been nice.  It's been really consistent and a little bit easier.

Q.  You were also No. 1 this year; how was that experience, and how are you looking forward to getting back to that place again?
STACY LEWIS:  At the end of last year, I kind of thought that maybe in the middle of summer, maybe if I played well in the Majors, I could get up to No. 1.
It really surprised me how quick 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, and so now that I know what to expect, make it a little bit easier, too.

Q.  How much of a disadvantage, if you do think it is a disadvantage, of not having played here, compared to the likes of Shanshan Feng, the defending champion and I suppose‑‑ does that give you confidence?
STACY LEWIS:  Shanshan won last year and it was her first time playing, so I don't think it will be too much of a disadvantage.  I think I have a little bit of an advantage because I think the course is playing different from what I can hear from years past; a little bit firmer and definitely some run‑off places on the greens, so I don't know anything different.  I think that will kind of help me there.
My goal every week is to give myself a chance to win, and I feel like with the way I've played this year, I feel like I can win wherever I go and so that's the goal is just to have a chance to win on Sunday and see what happens.

Q.  Given your impressions of the course, do you feel like it suits your game?
STACY LEWIS:  I do.  I like the course; that you have to kind of plot your way around, and really play smart.  That's something that I kind of pride myself on is playing smart and not going for too much when it's a bad situation.

Q.  Has life changed at all for you since winning the British Open?
STACY LEWIS:  I don't think necessarily just the British.  I mean, life changed when I got to No. 1 in the world, that's for sure.  But over the last probably six to eight months, it's just gotten really busy more than anything, and trying to juggle still playing good golf and then you're practicing and all of the other things that you have to do, it's hard.
And dealing with being in the spotlight, everybody knowing who you are, it's definitely different.  So I've just been trying to learn along the way.

Q.  You've come close to winning the last couple of months.  How would you say your form is coming into this tournament after one week of rest, and how important is it to end the year on a high note?
STACY LEWIS:  I feel like I'm playing really well.  I took a couple weeks off a couple months ago, didn't play a few tournaments, just because I needed some time to kind of let my body recover.  And so at this point this year, I feel like I have a lot more energy, and so my game, it's right where it needs to be.
I think I finished ten straight Top‑10s, so there's not too much to complain about other than one shot or two here or there and I get a couple wins.  But that's golf and just kind of the way it works.

Q.  Last year Shanshan really ran away with it and no one was there to challenge her and it was a foregone conclusion, and you're obviously above her in the World Rankings.  So people will be looking at you as the main competition and do you see perhaps a battle with the defending champion?
STACY LEWIS:  I definitely see that playing out.  I played with Shanshan on Sunday last week at our season‑ending tournament in Naples and watched her play some pretty unbelievable golf.  She's playing really well right now and I'll definitely have to be on top of my game to beat her.
You know, she's somebody, she's played so solid over the last year or two, winning Majors and she won in China, so she's played some great golf.  Hopefully I can give her a bit of a run.

Q.  Obviously we all know about your scoliosis; in one of the interviews, you said that because of your condition, because of the scoliosis, you took up golf and you started playing‑‑ is that what you really feel now‑‑
STACY LEWIS:  Well, it kind of started‑‑ I started playing just kind of with my dad for fun, and then I had to wear this back brace for 6 1/2 years.  I had to wear it 18 hours a day.
So I got five or six hours a day where I didn't have to wear it, and my doctor always encouraged me to play sports, do what other kids are doing, do whatever you want to do.  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 went towards golf.

Q.  And now, do you have to worry about it?
STACY LEWIS:  I don't‑‑ knock‑on‑wood, I haven't had any issues with it.  It's something that once I did the surgery, I have a rod in my back and it's going to be there for the rest of my life.
My back, it's still not perfectly straight but it's at least more manageable and it's not noticeable.  It doesn't hurt.  And I really just try to take care of it.  I have a trainer and I work out every day, stay loose, stay fit and that really kind of takes care of it.  So you know, my back really feels pretty good.

Q.  After the year Inbee Park has had and a couple of the other Korean/Asian players, what do you think of that and what do you think of her?
STACY LEWIS:  We get asked every week in the States, you know, where the American players are and kind of what's going on.  You know, 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 be leading the way for the American players, and, you know, the year Inbee has had, it's unbelievable.  I think it really kind of spurred me onto practice more and get better, just because I don't think anybody‑‑ I mean, you think you can win a tournament, but to really think you can win three majors in a year, I don't think many people actually thought that.
She really opened my eyes that really anything is possible and really got me to work hard the last half of the year.

Q.  Can I ask you about your personal relationship with Shanshan, given her history the last couple of months‑‑ and after China, how is your relationship with her?
STACY LEWIS:  It's great.  I would consider Shanshan a good friend.  She felt horrible for what was going on in China.  There wasn't anything she could do about it.  We get along great.  There's no issues there, and we play so much golf together; she's somebody I enjoy playing with.  She's fun.  She jokes around a lot and she's just a great girl to be around.

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