PRATTVILLE, Ala. (AP) - Stacy Lewis is hoping that making a much-needed putt will give her a boost going into a tournament where she has thrived in the past.
Lewis made a 20-foot putt to finish her second round and make the first cut last week in Texas. Now, the world’s fourth-ranked player moves on to the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, where she won in 2012 and finished second two years later on Capitol Hill’s Senator Course, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
Lewis went on to shoot 5 under over the final two rounds at the Volunteers of America Shootout.
“Doing that when the pressure is on and to know that if you don’t play well, you’re not playing the next day,” Lewis, seeking to break a 48-event victory drought, said Wednesday. “That’s what this game is all about.
“So whether it’s the moment that turns the tide, I don’t know, but I definitely gained some confidence after last week.”
Lewis and third-ranked Lexi Thompson are in position to take the top spots on the U.S. Olympic team. Thompson, the 2011 winner, is skipping the tournament to play in Japan.
Only nine of the top 20 in the world ranking are in the field, a low number by LPGA standards.
Normally held late in the summer, the tournament was moved up to Mother’s Day weekend because of the Olympics. That means playing with temperatures forecast to top out in the mid-80s instead of pushing 100 degrees.
Defending champion Kris Tamulis said windier conditions are making the course play longer.
“It’s a little bit softer,” Tamulis said. “The greens are considerably slower than how they were last year. Last year they were probably the fastest I’ve ever played on in my 12 years on the tour.
“That coupled with the rain that they’ve had and this different wind, it’s difficult. The longer holes are difficult. The greens are slower, so maybe that will even out.”
Tamulis won her first LPGA Tour title after 11 years of trying at the suburban Montgomery course last August. She hasn’t finished better than 18th in 16 tournaments since then.
Players like 16th-ranked Cristie Kerr and No. 17 Gerina Piller are trying to improve their positioning for making the Olympics. Two players can compete for each country, plus up to two more if they are inside the top 15 in the world ranking.
Given the conditions, Lewis expects low scores.
“I love this golf course,” she said. “It’s one that you can go out and make a bunch of birdies on, especially this year being a little bit softer. You can fire at more pins, and it’s going to take a pretty low score this week.”
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