Stacy Lewis felt such a spiritual connection with St. Andrews that even when she was 3 shots behind with three to play, she never lost hope she could win the Women’s British Open.
No way could she have scripted a finish like this.
Facing the scariest shot and the hardest hole on the Old Course — the approach to the 17th, the famous Road Hole — Lewis pictured a low 5-iron that a right-to-left wind would knock down and allow to bounce up the slope toward the flag without going over the back of the green.
“It’s one of those shots you see in your head, but you don’t really ever pull it off,” Lewis said. “And just off the club face, it was perfect.”
The ball settled 3 feet away for birdie, the best shot of the tournament, maybe the best of her career.
Then, she wisely used putter from 40 yards short of the 18th green, through the Valley of Sin to 25 feet.
Lewis bent over and placed both hands on her knees after making the putt, a birdie-birdie finish that gave another special moment at the home of golf — her second major title.
Lewis saved her best for the final two holes of a marathon finish Sunday and closed with an even-par 72 for a 2-shot victory over Na Yeon Choi and Hee Young Park in St. Andrews, Scotland. It ended a record drought for the Americans in the majors — 10 straight, all won by Asian players.
“It’s unbelievable,” Lewis said. “It all happened so fast at the end. You’re afraid for every shot, and all of a sudden you make a couple of birdies and it’s over.”
It was over early for Inbee Park and her bid to become the first pro golfer to win four straight majors in a single season. Returning to the Old Course in the morning in calm conditions to complete 14 holes of her third round, she couldn’t make a putt and lost ground. Park had a 74-78 finish and wound up 14 shots behind.
Gary Woodland holed a 58-foot chip from the rough for one of his four birdies and got up-and-down to save par five times to win the Reno-Tahoe Open in Reno, Nev., for his second PGA Tour victory.
Woodland finished with 44 points in the modified Stableford format that awards eight points for double eagle, five for eagle, two for birdie, zero for par, minus-one for bogey and minus-three for double bogey or worse.
Jonathan Byrd and Andres Romero tied for second with 35 points, and Brendon Steele had 33 at Montreux Golf Club on the edge of the Sierra.
Woodland, also the 2011 Transitions Championship winner as a tour rookie, earned $540,000 for the victory and got a spot next week in the PGA Championship.
Tom Pernice Jr. birdied the final two holes for a 1-stroke victory over Jeff Sluman and Corey Pavin in the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn.
Pernice finished with a 4-under 68 and had a 17-under 199 total at the TPC Twin Cities for his second career Champions Tour victory. He also has two PGA Tour victories.
Sluman closed with a 62, and Pavin had a 66.
Trailing Sluman by 1 shot at the par-3 17th, Pernice made a 40-foot birdie putt to pull even. At the par-5 18th, he hit his second shot from 200 yards to 8 feet and two-putted for the winning birdie.
It was his first win in 51 starts dating to the 2009 SAS Championship, his first event as a Champions Tour player.
Reminding himself to be patient throughout the round, Pernice had birdies on Nos. 3 and 4, and after a bogey on No. 9, made a birdie at No. 12 to get to 15 under.
Sluman, who began the day 7 shots behind Pernice, birdied his first seven holes to get to 13 under. After a par at the par-3 eighth hole, Sluman birdied the par-4 ninth hole to establish a nine-hole tournament record of 28. However, he had only two birdies on the back nine.
Sluman, who won the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf earlier this year, parred three straight holes before a birdie on the par-4 14th put him alone in front at 16 under. He then failed to break par over the final four holes — missing a birdie try from inside 10 feet on No. 18.