- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 22, 2013

PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS (AP) - Stacy Lewis brings more value to the LPGA Tour that just her golf.

Along with becoming the first American in 18 years to win LPGA player of the year, and then rising to No. 1 in the world for four weeks, Lewis had a direct hand in bringing two tournaments to the LPGA Tour. One of them is this week, the Bahamas LPGA Classic, which grew out of her partnership with Ohio-based title sponsor Pure Silk.

She also aced what amounted to a pop quiz by the chief executive of Marathon Oil, which now sponsors a tournament in July.

That’s what led LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan to jokingly say Wednesday, “She’s better at sales than me.”

“Your stars drive your sport,” Whan said. “Your athletes generate the momentum, and your job is to turn that momentum into business.”

Lewis, however, is not good enough to dictate weather.

A storm the locals haven’t seen in some 20 years pounded Paradise Island through the night, dumping about a foot of rain in an eight-hour span that flooded the Ocean Club. There was so much water on the course _ the entire 18th fairway was covered _ that the tournament was reduced to 54 holes.

The first round is to start Friday with a Sunday finish, leaving some flexibility in case more showers cause problems.

“I’m happy I got 18 holes of practice in yesterday,” Suzann Pettersen said. “We’ll play whenever we can.”

The rain wiped out the pro-am, so the LPGA Tour hastily arranged for players to meet at a restaurant at The Atlantis for a question-and-answer sessions with the amateurs. The group of players included the top three in the world ranking _ Inbee Park, Lewis and Pettersen, along with Brittany Lincicome and Natalie Gulbis.

It was an example of how the LPGA players try to do a little more, and it goes back to pop quiz for Lewis.

She had a marketing sponsorship with Marathon, and the company was thinking about sponsoring a tournament. Lewis was playing in a pro-am with the CEO when he turned to her and said, “Why should I sponsor an LPGA event?”

“It caught me off guard,” Lewis said. “I said it was a different experience than the PGA Tour and your customers will love it. I think that’s more why they did. They do a big customer outing. You get your name out there, but mostly they take care of their customers. And our pro-ams are better than any out there.”

The LPGA stars all turned out for a pro-am party Tuesday night at The Atlantis, with its massive aquarium as the backdrop.

As for the golf? No chance.

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