DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The projections are now official: Stacy Lewis, the woman who spent nearly seven years in a back brace and had surgery to insert a rod and screws on her spine to overcome scoliosis is now the No. 1 player on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Following her victory at yesterday’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, Lewis unseats Yani Tseng, who had spent the previous 109 weeks as No. 1.
“I’m having a blast on the golf course, and to be No. 1 in the world, it’s what everybody out here on Tour is working for,” Lewis said. “To be that person is, I mean, I really don’t even know what to say.”
She continued, “I couldn’t have dreamed that the kid who grew up wearing a back brace is the No. 1 player in the world.”
Fewer than four months ago, Lewis stood at the podium to accept the 2012 Rolex Player of the Year award, the first American to do so since Beth Daniel in 1994. She now joins Cristie Kerr as just the second American to hold the Rolex Rankings No. 1 spot. Kerr was No. 1 for five weeks between June and October 2010, a year when four different players held the spot.
Support from Lewis’s colleagues poured in via Twitter, with Tseng – now No. 2 on the Rolex Rankings – leading the charge. Tseng tweeted, “Congrats Stacy, you deserve this world number 1. Great job!! Happy for you. I am about to start chasing world number 1 now.”
Lewis is the seventh player to hold the No. 1 spot, following Annika Sorenstam (60 weeks), Lorena Ochoa (158 weeks), Jiyai Shin (26 weeks), Ai Miyazato (11 weeks), Cristie Kerr (5 weeks) and Yani Tseng (109 weeks).
Following yesterday’s win, Lewis also donated $50,000 to the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program, the beneficiary of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.
“To have our founders out this week and our pioneers, they worked so much harder than I do right now to get this Tour up and running and everything is because of them,” Lewis said. “So for me, I mean, I feel like I need to keep giving back to the game and giving back to those kids because they’re the future. They’re going to be up here doing these interviews in 15 years. So I just feel lucky to be able to do it.”