Ladies Scottish Open winner Stacy Lewis urges ‘aggressive action’ over slow play

American wins Ladies Scottish Open in play-off, after singing Taylor Swift song to allay frustration over opponents’ tardiness

Stacy Lewis poses with the trophy after winning the Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club. Picture: PA

Stacy Lewis celebrated winning the $1.5 million Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club with a FaceTime call with her two-year-old daughter back in Houston before calling for “aggressive” action to be taken against slow play in the women’s game.

While no stranger to success in the home of golf, having been on a winning Curtis Cup team at St Andrews before returning there to land the 2013 Women’s British Open, it was a special moment for Lewis as she tasted victory for the first time as a mother by coming out on top in a four-way play-off at the East Lothian venue.

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“It’s amazing,” said the 35-year-old of her 13th LPGA Tour triumph but first since 2017, soon after which her daughter, Chesnee, arrived on the scene. “The only disappointing thing is that she’s not here to take a picture with this (the trophy). I have been trying to get a trophy from the day she was born. That’s been my goal.

“I just called them, got to FaceTime with them. My husband said she was hitting the TV screen with her plastic golf clubs when I made that putt. So it’s just pretty cool. I can’t wait to get home with them in a week or so and celebrate.”

On a topsy-turvy final day, Lewis was going along nicely until running up a double-bogey 6 at the 11th, just as her group had been put on the clock. Her compatriot, Jennifer Song, was the main slow-play culprit, with Spaniard Azahara Munoz, the third member of the group, not much better at times.

Having played with the same two players on Saturday, it was a tough two days for Lewis, but she prevailed in the end. A 24-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole did the trick in a sudden-death shoot-out with Munoz, American Cheyenne Knight and Dane Emily Pederson after they had all finished with five-under-par 279 totals – 15 shots fewer than the winning aggregate posted by Korea’s MJ Hur at the same venue last year.

Referring to her caddie, Lewis said: “I told him on the second tee, ‘I’m not allowed to complain once about the pace of play’ So I didn’t allow it to affect me. I was singing songs in my head, just getting away from everything, trying to pass the time. My daughter, she loves Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. So that was actually the song that was stuck in my head today.”

The final group took five hours and 16 minutes to complete their round. “It does,” said Lewis of that taking some of the gloss of an enthralling title tussle. “It shouldn’t take that long to play. I knew it was going to; that’s the sad part. I do think an effort needs to be made across the board to play faster. I’m sure it couldn’t have been fun to watch on TV. I’ve been an advocate for changing our pace of play, getting people to play faster for a long time, and we’re still going the other way unfortunately.”

Does she have any ideas what could be done? “If you’re out of position right now, you get a warning. And then if you’re still out of position after another hole, you get on the clock. And I think the warning should go away. I think if you’re out of position, you should be timed. But I also think there should be spot timing in that an official can, if an official can plainly see who is slow in the group, they should time those people.

“I think The European Tour has a more aggressive policy that if any time you go over a minute to take a shot, you can get a penalty. And I would like to see it be penalties instead of fines. I think it needs to be aggressive. I think it needs to change because we’re going in the wrong direction.”

In terms of travel, the direction for Lewis is west to Royal Troon as the Ayrshire venue stages the AIG Women’s Open for the first time. “I’m excited the way I’m hitting it,” she said of that assignment. “Links golf, you’ve got to be able to control your golf ball in the wind and I did a pretty good job of that for four days. I’m excited that we get to keep playing and just so thankful for all of our sponsors that are allowing us to play over here, the Scottish Government for getting women’s golf going again.”

Munoz, who started the day with a one-shot lead, produced a short-game masterclass on the back nine as she recovered from a poor start to get herself back in the mix on the back nine. “I’m proud of myself,” she said. “It was a tough day and I didn’t have a good start. But I fought really hard, making some really nice putts coming in. It’s always great to have a good week before a major.”

Pedersen’s effort moved her to the top of the LET’s Race to Costa Del Sol rankings. She missed two great birdie opportunites at the 11th and 13th, but it was a good week’s work by the 24-year-old. “That was was a bit of a shame,” she said of those chances. “But it happens, and I haven’t played good in a while, so I’m happy to play some decent golf.”

Pedersen’s compatriot, Nicole Broch Larsen, closed with a six-under-par 65 – the best score of the week – to finish alongside Danielle Kang in joint fifth on four under as the American came up just short in her bid to make it three wins in a row following back-to-back victories in Ohio as the LPGA Tour came out of lockdown.

“I definitely made a good run,” said Kang, the world No 2. “I’m really proud of how I handled the links-style golf, the way I hit the ball from tee to green was great. I think I got a little bit of good feel for links for next week.”

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