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Weeks: Lewis trying to savour her time as world No. 1

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Bob Weeks
6/5/2014 9:50:04 AM
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WATERLOO, Ontario - This time, Stacy Lewis says, she's going to take some time to savour being the best female golfer in the world. This time, she's going to be more prepared. And this time, she's hoping it lasts a little longer.

"It feels good to be back at No. 1," said Lewis, who is in Waterloo, Ont., at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic looking for her third win of the season. "I only got four weeks there last year so I'm looking forward to hopefully spending a little bit more time there."

Lewis took over the No. 1 spot on the world rankings last week when she won her second tournament of the year, the Shoprite LPGA Classic, surpassing Inbee Park. It marked the second time the native of Toledo, Ohio found herself on the top of women's golf, but last time it came as more of a surprise. Not this time around.

"Obviously I knew all the scenarios," she said. "I knew what would happen."

Getting another win this week wouldn't be out of the question. Lewis, who is sponsored by Manulife, has finished tied for sixth in each of the past two years at Grey Silo. The tournament has proved to be a birdie-fest in its short life – last year's winning score was 26-under -- and Lewis just happens to have made 209 of those this year, more than any other player on tour.

Of course beyond the wins and the losses and the birdies and bogeys, her story is an inspirational one. She wasn't a great junior player, wasn't the top golfer on her high school team and wasn't heavily recruited by colleges, ending up playing for the University of Arkansas.

Oh and there was the scoliosis.

For seven and a half years, she wore a back brace for 18 hours a day, hoping to correct the curvature in her spine. After that, she underwent surgery to put in a stainless steel rod and five screws to hold her spine in place.

Golf? She was told she might not even walk again.

(Click here to visit Lewis web site and see X-rays of her back pre and post operation)

Not a week goes by on tour when she doesn't receive a thank you for being a shining example, or hear a story from someone else in a similar position to her. She encourages them, supports them and even keeps in touch with a number, some of whom aren't even golfers.

So being atop the world ranking is something special for the ever-smiling, cheery Razorback.

"I want to be in this position, I want to be No. 1 in the world and I want to raise the bar," she said. "I want to show people how good we are out here. By me playing good golf, it forces everyone else to play some good golf too."

Good golf is something Lewis has been doing for some time now. In the last year and a half, she's won five times and posted 29 top-10 finishes. In the last three and a half years, she's banked more than $6 million. This year? Two victories and 10 top-10s in 12 starts.

Despite that, she's pretty low key. The only reward she's splurged on since she joined the LPGA Tour was a new car she bought with the first cheque she made back in 2008 – it's a car she still drives.

But sitting atop the golf world this time around will be different; she's going to drink it all in and enjoy it, for as long at it lasts.

"You know, I think this time I'm going to try to embrace it," Lewis said. "I don't want to say there's pressure – I put enough pressure on myself already so I don't need to worry about the rankings. If I stay there for four or 20 or 50 weeks, whatever it is, any time you spend at No. 1 in the world it's going to be great."

The way she's playing, you can probably expect to see Lewis on top for some time to come.

Stacy Lewis (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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