A hog call is not exactly what you expect to hear at a professional golf tournament. That’s because all of them but one are played elsewhere than Arkansas.
But not the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. It’s plunked down right in the middle of Rogers, Arkansas, on a tidy little course, Pinnacle Country Club, about twenty miles north of Fayetteville on Interstate 540. So, you ask? Well, Fayetteville is the home of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. So, you ask?
Well, that just happens to be the alma mater of rising LPGA Tour star, Stacy Lewis. She pulled off a monumental win by staring down superstar Yani Tseng in the Kraft Nabisco Championship back in April in Palm Springs. It was her first win and it was a major. And it lit her up. She had a 5th the week after that in the Avnet LPGA Classic, a T6 in the LPGA Championship, a 2nd at the Evian Masters in France and a T2 in the CN Canadian Open. And those were just the real good finishes. She had a bunch of just plain good ones too. Not to mention the $1.1 million that went with it all.
Well, the University of Arkansas would be proud. Real proud. A bunch of them showed up to show Stacy their support and she got pig calls all through Friday’s first round; little sooies for the most part, but two big formal ones at the 17th and 18th green. She birdied both holes. She knew it was coming and rose to the occasion anyway. It was heartwarming to watch her making her way through the round knowing that this celebration of her university and herself was coming and she sucked it up and basked in it rather than shrinking from it. That and her five unblemished birdies to lead the tournament by one were masterful.
And that’s the kind of performance she’ll need this weekend: she’s tied with another master, the very same Yani Tseng she beat at the Nabisco. You remember her, right? She’s the one who won the LPGA Championship and the Women’s British Open to be the youngest player to get to 5 major championships. She won four tournaments on the year and is both completely charming and tenaciously irrepressible. Great combination.
So for me, that’s the story of the first round of the tournament. The only downside is that they won’t be paired together today; they have another round to play in Friday’s pairings. But that’s not all bad. Lewis will be paired with the elegant German, Sandra Gal, and the daunting Michelle Wie (who had a hapless 7-over back nine and should play like she has nothing to lose today). Tseng has a great pairing with the Nordic ice queen Suzann Pettersen (on the golf course, quite funny otherwise, somebody tweeted this week), just two back and the fearless rookie, Ryann O’Toole who was the stunning wild-card pick to the Solheim Cup Team (she didn’t have a good round Friday, but you’d never know it; she played like she belonged, a masterful trait).
So even though we won’t see Lewis and Tseng paired together, they are in back-to-back groups and we will have plenty of great golf to watch.