Stacy Lewis went back to the car three times in Toledo, Ohio, to say goodbye to daughter Chesnee. The silver lining of the 166-day break on the LPGA was an unprecedented amount of family time. But that made leaving all the more difficult as Lewis embarked on a two-week trip to Scotland on the LPGA’s charter flight with her longtime caddie Travis Wilson. No family or coaches allowed in the overseas bubble.
As Lewis came down the stretch at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open, husband Gerrod Chadwell was sitting on the living room floor back home in Houston playing with Chesnee, who turns 2 in October. Chadwell let out a yell when Lewis drained a 20-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to win for the first time in nearly three years. A startled Chesnee looked up, grabbed her plastic golf club and started hitting the TV.
“The only disappointing thing is that she’s not here to take a picture with this,” said Lewis, bringing the trophy in closer while on a Zoom call with reporters, “but I have been trying to get a trophy from the day she was born.”
The family had a FaceTime session shortly after the finish, and Chadwell reminded his bride that she’s now in the field for the first tournament of the year, the Diamond Resort Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Florida.
What will Stacy Lewis do next?
Take Chesnee to Disney, of course.
Motherhood changed Lewis, as it invariably would. And that was on full display throughout Sunday’s round as she did not let the dreadfully slow play of her playing competitors – Jennifer Song and Azahara Munoz – knock her out of the tournament. On the second tee, Lewis told Wilson that she was not allowed to talk about slow play for the rest of the day. She had addressed it with the media after the third round and got it off her chest. But she made a decision right there that it wouldn’t affect her down the stretch.
Chesnee helped with that too. The toddler’s favorite song to dance to is “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. Those words were on repeat in Lewis’ head as her group was put on the clock on the 11th hole. They remained on the clock for four holes, according to LPGA rules officials, before getting back in position.
Lewis carded a double-bogey immediately after the group was put on the clock, noting that might have rushed the second shot a bit.
“It shouldn’t take that long to play,” said Lewis of a final round that took over 5 hours to complete. “I knew it was going to; that’s the sad part you is know it’s going to take that long. I do think an effort needs to be made across the board to play faster, because obviously I wasn’t watching it on TV, but I’m sure it couldn’t have been fun to watch on TV. There’s just so much the announcers can talk about to fill time.”
The LPGA doubled the price of its fines in 2020. Last year, seven pace-of-play fines were given out and one two-stroke penalty. (That’s in addition to the one-stroke penalty LPGA rookie Andrea Lee received last year at the U.S. Women’s Open. Lee was an amateur then.)
Through five events in 2020, five pace-of-play penalties were given that resulted in fines.
Under the current guidelines, players receive a warning when they are out of position and after a second hole, are put on the clock. Lewis would like to see the warning go away.
“I think if you’re out of position, you should be timed,” she said. “But I also think there should be spot timing in that, an official can, if an official can plainly see who is slow in the group, they should time those people.”
She’d also like to see strokes given out rather than fines.
“I think it needs to be aggressive,” she said. “I think it needs to change because we’re going in the wrong direction.”
Lewis, 35, attacks the issue of slow play the same way she attacks everything else in life – scoliosis, motherhood, charity, equal rights, winning. She rarely holds back.
The two-time major winner and former No. 1 closed with an even-par 72 at The Renaissance Club on the Scottish coast to move into a playoff against fellow Texan Cheyenne Knight, Emily Pedersen and Munoz at 5-under 279.
This marks Lewis’ 13th title on the LPGA. The $211,680 winner’s check moves her to $13,135,753 in career earnings. She became the eighth player in LPGA history to break the $13 million threshold. The last time Lewis won on the LPGA, in 2017, she donated her entire paycheck to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Houston.
She now heads to Royal Troon, site of the AIG Women’s British Open, on Monday to get ready for the tour’s first major of the year. She’ll drive over to Glasgow with Wilson and get another COVID-19 test done, quarantine in her room to await the results and enjoy the victory. On Tuesday, she’ll get back after it at historic Troon, a first-time stop for the LPGA.
Lewis learned to love links golf when she went undefeated while representing the U.S. in the 2008 Curtis Cup at the Old Course at St. Andrews. She returned five years later and won the Women’s British.
So much has changed since then, with her at-home practices at the Golf Club of Houston usually involving Chesnee, a handful of toys and a cartoon playing on the wall of the hitting bay. Chadwell, head women’s golf golf at Houston, estimates that his wife’s preparation time has been cut in half since she became a mom. Only now is her body finally back in fighting shape, not just for 72 holes, but for weeks and weeks of tournament golf.
“Guys have it easy,” he said.
For most of Sunday, Chesnee was wrapped up in “Peppa Pig” on her iPad, her main concern usually centering around what color shirt mom is wearing. Saturday’s purple shirt was her favorite.
One day soon enough to grow to appreciate the magnitude of it all. That her mom really could do it all.