For Stacy Lewis, year could get even better
Stacy Lewis was honored Monday in New Jersey for the donation she made last year to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. All in all, it continues to be a pretty great 2013 for Lewis.
She was briefly No. 1 before South Korea's Inbee Park claimed that. And Park definitely has been the LPGA's top player this year, with three victories and the top spot on the money list.
But Lewis has to be pleased with the way her year has gone. About a third of the way through the LPGA season after nine events, and with the tour having an off week, it's a good time to take stock of which players are excelling and how that bodes for the summer stretch run.
Lewis' forecast promises a lot of sunshine. She's No. 2 on the money list, with $685,523 behind Park's $877,770. The American is also second in the Rolex world rankings to Park.
Some of the categories where Lewis leads the way are key indicators of how consistent she has been in 2013. She's first in scoring average (69.417), rounds under par (30 of 36, 83.3 percent) and top-10 finishes (seven in nine events). She also leads the tour in birdies (162) and eagles (six).
That's the kind of player Lewis has become -- someone who gives herself a lot of chances to score and tends to be in the hunt every week. She's won twice, with those titles coming back-to-back in March. The only disappointment of her season was at the first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April, where she tied for 32nd.
The second major, the LPGA Championship, is just a month away. Last year, no Americans won any of the four majors. This year, there are five majors -- the Evian Championship in September has been elevated to that status -- and there's reason to believe an American could win at least one of the remaining four.
Lewis must be considered the top U.S. threat, with one major title in her career. But there are other American contenders, including Lizette Salas, who is in her second full season on the tour and seeking her first LPGA title.
Salas, who turns 24 in July, has four top-10 finishes and is sixth on the money list at $377,284. She got the biggest payday of her young career on April 20, when she shot 62 and forced a playoff with Suzann Pettersen of Norway. Salas lost the playoff, but her 10-under final round electrified the LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii and showed the kind of talent she has.
Right behind Salas on the money list is another American, veteran Cristie Kerr, who has two top-10s in 2013 and is coming off an emotional win Sunday. She prevailed in a playoff against Pettersen at the Kingsmill Championship and celebrated with her father, who traveled with Kerr early in her career but had never been present for one of her victories.
It was the 16th career LPGA title for the 35-year-old Kerr, who is second to Lewis in the U.S. Solheim Cup team points standings. Third on that list is Paula Creamer, whose last victory was the 2010 U.S. Women's Open. Creamer has 20 top-10 finishes in her 60 tournaments since then. She's knocked hard on the door a few times in seeking career win No. 10.
While Park is tops among the LPGA's Asian contingent and Lewis leads the way for the Americans, it's Pettersen who has had the best season among Europeans. She's third on the money list and almost got her second victory of the season Sunday; it would have been the 12th LPGA title of her career. Pettersen has played as well as anyone over the last four events: a tie for third, a victory, another third and the playoff loss to Kerr on the second extra hole.
Pettersen has one major, the 2007 LPGA Championship. If she can continue the way she's playing now, she might add another major title in 2013. And she'll be the stalwart of the European side at the Solheim Cup in August.
The tour has stops in Mobile, Ala., the Bahamas and New Jersey before the LPGA Championship, June 6-9 in suburban Rochester, N.Y.
Lewis has played every tournament so far this year. While she and the rest of the tour take a break this week, you have to think as good as 2013 has been for Lewis, the best is likely to come.