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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Can Stacy Get It Done This Time?

First, a quick note of congratulation to Omar Uresti for his win at the PGA Professional Championship. For those of you who don't recognize the name, Omar was a PGA Tour player for many years -- he made 351 starts, in fact -- but he never won. That doesn't mean he has never won a pro tournament; he has five other wins -- two on the then-Nationwide (now Tour, one on the Sunshine Tour, one on the Canadian Tour, and most recently he won the 2015 Southern Texas PGA Championship as a teaching pro. But he was runner-up in this event a year ago, and now he's got the title. Way to go, Omar!

This week the LPGA tees it up in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, where Lydia Ko is the defending champion.. As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event, so you can get the necessary numbers and stats from him. I'll just point out the storylines I think are most interesting this week.

Ai Miyazato

First of all, Ai Miyazato fans will want to tune is, as this is Ai's first appearance since she announced her impending retirement. Ai's last LPGA win came at this event in 2012, so it's a place with good memories for her. I'll be interested to see how she does, as she seems to be at peace with her decision and that may free her up to play well here again.

The defending champ is looking for her first win this season. Many of Lydia's stats say she is playing better -- better even than last year, when she won five times around the world. But her best this year has been a T2 at the LOTTE, and that has allowed Ariya Jutanugarn to take over the top spot in the Rolex Rankings. With Ariya out of the picture this year (Tony says she is no longer scheduled to play), perhaps Lydia can finally make up some ground.

But the biggest question is whether Stacy Lewis can finally get back into the win column this week. Stacy went to school in Arkansas, as you all know, and this event has a strange distinction in her career. It was her first pro win -- she won the very first playing of this event back in 2007 as an amateur, but her win doesn't count as an official tournament because it was weather-shortened to 18 holes. And her last win also came at this event, in 2014.

For so many reasons, it would be appropriate if Stacy got her next win at this event, this week.

After a number of four-round tournaments, the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship is only a 54-hole event. The broadcasts start Friday on GC at 6:30pm ET. With so many potential storylines, even beyond the three I've mentioned, it should be a good show.

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