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DEFENDING CHAMP LEWIS WITH HER EYES ON THE PRIZE IN FIFE

August 11, 2021

In 2020, the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open was only the third event after the LPGA Tour’s restart due to COVID-19. Stacy Lewis, coming off a T9 performance in her hometown of Toledo, Ohio at the Marathon LPGA Classic, was ready for the links in just her second appearance at the TGWSO. Four days later, Lewis made it into a playoff against Emily Pedersen, Cheyenne Knight and Azahara Munoz. A few minutes after that, Lewis walked away with the 13th trophy of her LPGA Tour career.

“I remember I came off Toledo last year, played really well there and finished really good on Sunday, and just came over (to Scotland) with a lot of confidence. The golf course played really hard last year. A lot of wind every day. It just played to my strengths, I feel like,” said Lewis. “You know, as the week went on, I felt like little things were starting to go my way. I was getting good bounces and didn’t really hole a lot of putts at all in the entire week. But things start going your way and you start getting good bounces and, you know, kind of felt lucky to be in the playoff and finally make a putt.”

That putt? A 23-foot birdie putt that secured Lewis her first win as an #LPGAMom. In the moment, Lewis said she couldn’t watch the final putts from the playoff but was overjoyed once the dust settled. She remembers the reaction most from the other moms on the LPGA Tour after winning in Scotland.

“When I went back and kind of the response to it and some of the other girls that have kids, just how cool they thought it was and how proud they were of me. They know how hard it is and how hard it is to come back and to continue to play with all the extra demands that go on into life now. So, it was really cool,” said Lewis. “You know, Chesnee (her daughter) still doesn’t really understand exactly what I do, but she will one day.”

Upon arrival home, Lewis’ husband surprised her with a banner complimenting her win outside their Texas home. She said she became a fan favorite among her neighbors. Now as she looks to successfully defend a championship for the first time in her career, Lewis takes on Dumbarnie Links after a string of solid finishes in her last three events: a tie for 12th (Volunteers of America Classic), a tie for ninth (Marathon LPGA Classic) and another tie for 12th alongside playing partner Maria Fassi at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. Lewis said she enjoys the creativity needed for links golf, and after her first looks at the tournament’s new host site, she’s impressed.

“It’s amazing. I’d say anybody that’s coming over for a trip, you need to come play here. It’s a newer design obviously but it still has the old links feel to it. It’s a pretty good hike. It’s a pretty good walk. But other than that, you know, you hit a lot of different shot and you’ve got to hit some long ones and short one, as well,” said Lewis. “There’s some really good short holes on this golf course. We haven’t had much wind the last couple days but it’s coming. Looking forward to see how it’s going to play in that.”

 

MINJEE LEE GOING FOR SIBLING SWEEP OF THE SCOTTISH OPEN

On the first tee at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, a new descriptor will finally be added to Minjee Lee’s starter announcement – major champion. This week in Fife, Lee makes her first appearance at an LPGA Tour event since winning her maiden major title at the Amundi Evian Championship, an accomplishment she said feels “like a monkey off the back.”

“Just to be able to call myself a major champion, I think it’s just, you know, it’s pretty special to me. It’s just a really great feeling,” said Lee, now a six-time LPGA Tour winner. “I really do feel like I can play a bit more freely, especially in the majors. I think I had a lot of expectations that I sort of put on myself to perform well and yeah, you know, I feel like it was kind of coming but I just didn’t know when.”

Lee said she can now set new goals for herself, especially coming off an exciting week at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After finishing T29, Lee prepares for an event where she feels quite comfortable. There’s something about links courses that bring out the best in Lee. Her worst finish in the Women’s Scottish Open is T16 in 2020. But she’s finished as high T2 back in 2018. She said she enjoys returning year after year to Scotland along with the challenges she expects from this type of course.

“It’s just really calm and peaceful, so I really like it even though it gets windy and rainy, I just really like the challenge of playing links golf. I’m always just glad to be here,” said Lee. “I think if the wind gets up, [Dumbarnie is] going to be quite a challenge. If the wind gets up it’s quite long. There are some fun holes. Maybe some of the holes will be reachable. Some of the par 5s you can get on in two. I think there’s a great mix of holes so I think it will just be a good tournament course.”

And even more thrilling could be the potential for a sibling sweep of the Scottish Open. Her younger brother, Min Woo, won his second European Tour event with his victory at the 2021 Abrdn Scottish Open, just a few weeks before her Evian win. Lee said they got to celebrate back in the United States before the Olympics, and said his victory helped propel better play within the Australian.

“I think he really wanted it,” said Lee. “And for me to see him win, it sparked something for me, as well, so it’s just nice to see.”

 

SOPHIA POPOV BACK IN SCOTLAND FOR FIRST TIME SINCE AIG WOMEN’S OPEN VICTORY

If anyone is overjoyed to return to the Home of Golf, it’s major champion Sophia Popov. Almost a year removed from her maiden major title at the AIG Women’s Open, Popov is excited for the opportunity to hit the links once again. Last year at this time, Popov was playing the Symetra Tour’s Founder Tribute, where she finished second, before she traveled to compete at Royal Troon. It’s been a whirlwind year for the German, who said she feels like she’s embraced what comes with being a major champ.

“At the beginning, it was all fun and games, and at some point, you know, you feel a little bit overwhelmed,” Popov said. “I think my personality always suits the position that I’m in. For the most part, everything is fun. But it’s definitely more demanding. The schedule is more demanding, the time that is required of you. But like I said, those are things that are easy to complain about but really it’s what we’re all hoping for.”

Like everyone else this week, Popov is currently scouting out Dumbarnie Links for the first time. She may feel like she’s running on fumes after competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, after playing all 18 holes on Wednesday, Popov is gearing up for “very interesting week.”

“The course, it’s awesome. I played all 18 today. It was very enjoyable. I think it’s a great golf course. Obviously depends on the weather conditions that we get. You can tell it’s fairly new. But I think it’s a great test and I think it could be set up in so many different ways,” said Popov. “I’m very excited to be back in Scotland. I quite like it here as most people would probably think by now. I just think it’s been a very, very intense season.

“Our schedule is very packed, especially with the Olympics last week. I think I’m a little bit tired now still with the jetlag everything and but going out and playing today was very fun for me. I really had a good time and it kind of reminded me a lot of last year. So yeah, I just — I’m excited to be back.”