Lewis provides familiar look at U.S. Women's Open

By Julie Pelchar Cohen
Published on
Lewis provides familiar look at U.S. Women's Open

LANCASTER, Pa. -- One can't help but look at Stacy Lewis and be reminded of a young Betsy King.

While answering questions during a U.S. Women's Open press conference, Lewis, a blonde who has piercing blue eyes and an athletic build like King, addressed reporters with a steely gaze that could've come from King herself during her heyday.

Even King sees the likeness, which reaches far beyond appearance.

"I see a lot of myself in her," said King, the Berks native and retired LPGA Hall of Famer who's attending this week's Women's Open at Lancaster Country Club. "I feel like she's a lot like I was with her style of play and her work ethic."

Surely, these similarities sparked what's become a special friendship between a current LPGA star and a former one.

Lewis met King shortly after she joined the tour in 2009. Having always wanted to make a mission trip, Lewis became interested in King's charity, Golf Fore Africa.

A year later, Lewis and her mother joined King on an African mission and a bond formed.

"After going on the trip with her, I found a lot of similarities in the two of us," Lewis said. "I learned a lot from her on that trip and found a purpose to what I'm doing."

Since then, King has grown close to the entire Lewis family -- Stacy's mom, sister and brother-in-law ran in a recent Chicago Marathon to raise money for Golf Fore Africa -- and Lewis stays with King in her Scottsdale, Arizona, home during the week of the LPGA stop in Phoenix each spring.

While Lewis was an immensely successful amateur -- the Arkansas Razorback was an NCAA champion and twice a national women's amateur player of the year -- she didn't win during her first two years on tour.

But King's guidance helped Lewis elevate her game to the next level and beyond.

"A lot of it was just her sharing her experiences," Lewis said. "I don't think it was one specific thing, but just telling me stories and things she went through."

After winning the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship and capturing four titles the following year, Lewis secured the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings in 2013. She held it for various periods over two years and currently ranks third behind Inbee Park and Lydia Ko.

Her best season came last year, when she earned Rolex Player of the Year honors, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and grabbed the money title.

She was the first to win all three prizes in the same year since King in 1992.

"As I got better, it was how do I become No. 1 in the world and the top American and what does that require," Lewis said. "Controlling my temper on the golf course was one of those things. We both have a fiery personality, so she helped me with that, too."

Lewis, 30, said that she and King, who turns 60 next month, tend to be perfectionists who are "super competitive" and that both have "a little bit of a temper" and "a little bit of a chip on our shoulders."

Obviously, the feistiness has served King and Lewis well.

King won 34 LPGA events, including two Women's Open titles for six majors overall, and is one of golf's all-time greats.

With 11 wins that include two majors -- the Kraft Nabisco and 2013 Women's British Open -- Lewis is looking to join her.

Still missing, though, is a Women's Open title.

Lewis has had two close calls, finishing second last year to Michelle Wie at Pinehurst No. 2 and tying for third in 2008, her first tournament as a professional.

King likes her friend's chances this week.

"I think this course will suit her," King said.

Maybe King should share that thought with Lewis, who clearly has benefited from King's inspiring words.

"A lot of being able to do this is having someone believe in you and think that you can actually do this," Lewis said. "You've got a Hall of Famer telling you that you can be one of the best players out here. It makes you believe a little bit more in yourself."

This article was written by Julie Pelchar Cohen from Reading Eagle, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.