NAPLES, Florida (AP) ― Stacy Lewis became the first American in 21 years to sweep the three biggest awards on the LPGA Tour, which she considered more valuable than a $1 million bonus.
Lewis closed with a 1-under 71 in the CME Group Tour Championship on Sunday, tied for ninth in the LPGA Tour finale. But it was enough for her to win LPGA Tour player of the year for the second time in three seasons. She also won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average and the money title.
The last American to sweep the awards was Betsy King in 1993.
“The $1 million would have been nice,” said Lewis, who was six shots out of a playoff. “But those three, that’s what I came here for. ... It’s been hard to play the last four days, and it’s nice to be done. I didn’t have my best stuff. I’m pretty surprised to finish where I did.”
Stacy Lewis poses with the Player of the Year and Vare trophies on Sunday. (AFP-Yonhap)
Two years ago, the 29-year-old Lewis became the first American since Beth Daniel to win the points-based player of the year. She added the Vare Trophy a year ago. And on Sunday, she collected all three at the same time.
Park In-bee, the No. 1 in the world, was the only player who could have kept Lewis from the awards. She trailed in all of them, but struggled all week at Tiburon Golf Club and finished in a tie for 24th, four shots worse than Lewis.
Lewis finished atop the money list with $2,539,039, more than $300,000 over Park. Her scoring average was 69.532, while Park was second at 69.682. Michelle Wie was third in the Vare Trophy standings (69.818), followed by Ryu So-yeon at 69.978.
It was the first time in LPGA history that four women had a sub-70 scoring average.
Lewis felt as much stress this week as at any major, mainly because Park was on a roll and Lewis was struggling. She received one good omen Saturday night when her family ordered Chinese food and her father tossed her a fortune cookie.
Lewis kept it in her pocket during the final day of the tournament and read it aloud to the media when she was done: “Good news of long-awaited event will arrive soon.”
“The last couple of weeks have been tough,” Lewis said. “The game hasn’t been exactly where I wanted it to be. I figured (Park would) keep it rolling this week, and I knew I needed to find something. It was probably four of the hardest rounds of golf I’ve ever played.”
Lewis won three times this year, though she failed to do so at a major. Still, she wouldn’t trade what she ended up with.
“Before this week, it was good. Now it’s a little bit better,” Lewis said when asked to measure her year. “I’d like to have taken a major championship. But winning these three awards makes it almost great.”
Stenson retains World Tour title
DUBAI (AP) ― Henrik Stenson birdied the last two holes Sunday to successfully defend his DP World Tour Championship title at the European Tour’s season-ending event.
Stenson shot a final round 2-under 70 to win by two strokes with an overall 16-under 272 on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Three of Stenson’s teammates on Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team ― top-ranked Rory McIlroy (68), Victor Dubuisson (68) and Justin Rose (69) ― shared second on 14-under 274.
It was the first time Stenson has successfully defended a title and guaranteed that the 38-year-old Swede finishes second to McIlroy in the European Tour Race to Dubai.
“It was such a great place for me to win here last year, so to come back and successfully defend is very pleasing,” Stenson said. “I’ll be back and try to make it three wins in a row next year.”
Rose picked off three birdies in succession from the 14th while Dubuisson birdied the last.
Stenson went to 15 under when he birdied the 17th. While he was in the rough at the last, he found the fairway with his second shot before landing his third pin-high right and sealed the fate of his three Gleneagles colleagues by holing the 15-foot birdie putt.
McIlroy had briefly threatened with birdies on the 14th and 15th.
“I never expected 14-under par would have the remotest chance of winning this golf tournament,” said McIlroy. “It just seemed like no one really took the tournament by the scruff of the neck and went with it. But then I didn’t play well enough to win this week.”
Rafa Cabrera-Bello (75) was leading with three holes to play but the Spaniard tumbled down the board with back-to-back double bogeys at Nos. 16 and 17 to finish tied for ninth with an overall 277.
Cabrera-Bello was looking for a second victory in Dubai after capturing the 2012 Dubai Desert Classic.