American Stacy Lewis closed with a pair of birdies on The Old Course at St Andrews and earned her second major championship at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Under sunny skies, the World No.2 fired a final round of 72 to set the target at 208, eight-under-par.
Lewis played the first 36 holes of the championship in five-under-par and the second 36, through windy, testing conditions, in three-under-par, which effectively won her the championship.
Lewis, who was undefeated in the 2008 Curtis Cup at St Andrews, when she posted a 5-0 record, said that it felt like destiny that she should claim the title.
“I felt so comfortable out there, I almost felt like it was meant to be,” said Lewis, who ends a run of ten women’s major championships won by Asian players. She was also the last non-Asian player to win a major when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2011.
Lewis, who is an inspiration to many youngsters who face adversity, wore a back brace for seven and a half years from the age of 11 to 18 in order to correct a curvature in her spine caused by scoliosis. The only time she didn’t wear it was when playing golf. During high school she also underwent surgery to insert a rod and five screws into her back and it still troubles her from time to time.
The new champion went on to say that her love for St Andrews had also been a contributory factor in her success.
Third round leader Morgan Pressel of the USA tied for fourth place with Norwegian Suzann Pettersen on five-under-par. America’s Lizette Salas closed with a 73 to finish alone in sixth place on three under par 285 while Japanese duo Mamiko Higa and Miki Saiki were tied seventh on 286. The leading British player was 2009 champion, Catriona Matthew, from North Berwick, who shot 68 in the delayed third round but then fell back with a closing 78 to finish in a tie for 11th place on level par 288.
Inbee Park’s bid for the fourth leg of an historical Grand Slam came to an end when she closed with rounds of 74 and 78 for a six over par total of 294.
“It was a tough day today,” admitted the World No. 1. “I really got off to a bad start when I 4-putted the 1st hole.
“I’m just glad the tournament is over because I’ve gone through four rounds under pressure. Everybody has been watching me. It feels a bit weird because I get to do an interview when I shot 6-over par today.” “It’s a bit of a relief it’s over,” she added. “It’s something I’ve never experienced before. It’s been a great experience. I might not have won this week but I’ve learned a lot”.
The Smyth Salver, awarded to the leading amateur at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, was shared between New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and England’s Georgia Hall after both players finished the Championship on six over par 294.
World No. 1 amateur, Ko, also won the Smyth Salver last year at Royal Liverpool where she put together rounds of 72, 71, 76 and 78 to finish two shots ahead of England’s Holly Clyburn on nine over par 297.
The only other time the amateur prize was shared was back in 1993 before the Championship was a Major when England’s Joanne Morley and Patricia Meunier from France tied on 297 at Woburn G & CC.
Ko, Morley (1989 and 1993) and Scotland’s Bell Robertson (1980 and 1981) are the only three players to win the Smyth Salver twice.
280 – Stacy Lewis (USA) 67 72 69 72
282 – Na Yeon Choi (KOR) 67 67 75 73, Hee Young Park (KOR) 70 69 70 73
283 – Morgan Pressel (USA) 66 70 71 76, Suzann Pettersen (NOR) 70 67 72 74