In my post yesterday about the LPGA Tour’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas, I detailed how hometown girl, Stacy Lewis, held off the great Yani Tseng to win the Kraft Nabisco in Palm Springs last April.
What I didn’t say is that she started from two strokes back. She shot 3-under, Yani came apart late and shot 2-over and Stacy won by three.
Well, guess what? We have that same possibility in Sunday’s final round: Stacy starts two strokes back again, just like at Kraft Nabisco. And like Friday and Satuday’s rounds, she will once again have the very vocal support of all the loyal Razorback fans cheering on their favorite alum on the LPGA Tour.
From a mastery point of view, this requires dealing with one of the greatest and potentially most debilitating of all burdens, living up to expectations…hers and her rabid fans. But she won’t be able to think about that. She’ll have to just play and forget how bad she wants to win and how bad her fans want her to win. She’s already said that she considers this a personal major.
And she has a pretty good attitude to go with her incentives. Asked what happened on the two holes where she made bogey Saturday she said, “Just missed the green and didn’t get up and down.” No recrimination, no mitigating circumstances, no woulda, coulda, shoulda. Just the lean, clean, objective facts. That is indicative of an ego “under control.”
She’ll be two groups ahead of Yani’s last group, so it won’t quite be like Palm Springs when they went head-to-head. It’ll be more like try to start going low to put some pressure on Yani…and then keep your momentum going so that you can post a low number in the clubhouse and force her to match it.
For her part, Yani seems to have her process down pretty well. Asked if making bogeys made her feel like she wasn’t quite consistent, she said, “No, not really. It’s always good round without bogeys, but you know, a couple bogeys fine to make you have more birdies, so you know, if I have one bogey, I feel like I have to make another two birdies. So, you know, kind of make you push, like push yourself to make birdies, too.”
And she’ll be her own moral support given how vibrant Stacy’s will be, “I know maybe tomorrow people cheer for her, but I just try to focus on my own zone and just keep talking with caddie…and try not think too much. And if I don’t get clapped, that’s okay, I just clap myself.”
“I just clap myself.” Words to live by.
A couple other players to watch Sunday include Amy Yang and Taylor Leon. Yang shot a second round 64 to tie Yani, but it’s really hard to shoot back-to-back low rounds. So what will she be able to do? And Leon is on the brink of losing her card and has shot two 67s to be just one stroke back. She’ll be playing in the last group with Yang and Tseng. It would be nice for her if she can hold it together for one more round. She’ll get to keep her card and she’ll have a nice affirmation that she is the player she thinks she is.
It should be interesting.