It was only a couple of months ago that Stacy Lewis appeared to have the new Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing well in hand. Stacy had shot -5 in the final round and led hometown favorite Shanshan Feng by a stroke when the unthinkable happened. Feng went for the green on the par-5 18th with her second shot and thought she had hit her ball in the water.
Not quite. Instead, the ball skipped off a pylon and snuggled up close to the flag, giving Feng a walk-off eagle and a one-shot victory over Lewis. A shell-shocked Stacy was less than happy with how she felt the fans acted, made some comments, and eventually signed off Twitter. (The account is still there, she just isn't tweeting anymore.)
And now, two months later, it happened again. Stacy stepped onto the 13th tee with a 3-shot lead, only shoot +1 on the final 6 holes while Pornanong Phatlum shot 3-under on the same stretch. On yet another par-5 18th, Stacy -- this time tied for the lead -- hit her 3rd from a poor lie onto the green about 40 feet from the hole... only to watch Phatlum nearly fly her 3rd into the hole. That ball stopped a mere 2 feet away and Phatlum tapped in for birdie, stealing a victory that had appeared to be Stacy's from round 1.
That's two shockers in as many months for her. I couldn't help but think of another golfer who experienced more than his share of "trophy thefts":
- At the 1986 PGA Championship Bob Tway holed out from a greenside bunker on the 18th to beat Greg Norman.
- At the 1987 Masters Larry Mize chipped in on the second playoff hole from 47 yards away to beat him.
- At the 1990 USF&G Classic (now the Zurich Classic) David Frost holed out from the greenside bunker on the 18th to beat him.
Greg Norman has always been one of my golf heroes, not so much because of the way he won but because of the way he lost. He was always gracious, always complementary to the guys who beat him... and always came right back and got in contention again. There are players who have been crushed by a single dramatic loss and never recovered, but Norman has sustained more than his share and yet never let the losses beat him down.
Stacy handled this week's dramatic loss much better than her first one. I hope she doesn't end up having as many as Greg but, if she does, I hope she learns to handle them as well as he did. She's got too much talent to let this game crush her spirit.