HOUSTON – Stacy Lewis is ecstatic about the opportunity to compete for a U.S. Women’s Open title in her own backyard.
She graduated from The Woodlands High School, which sits roughly 30 minutes from Champions Golf Club, the site of this week’s tournament. And she’s been a member at Champions, nestled in the northwest suburbs of Houston, for about four years.
In fact, the 13-time LPGA tour winner and two-time major champ openly admitted that when she had yet to qualify for this event it weighed heavily on her, knowing full well the chances to play in front of friends and family are few and far between.
And while she’s eager to show off her skills and town this week, she’s also wondering why the nation’s fifth-largest metro area doesn’t have a consistent spot on the LPGA schedule. Events have rolled through on occasion — like the short-lived LPGA Tour Championship, which was played at the Houstonian Golf & Country Club in 2009 — but the last regularly scheduled LPGA Tour event in Space City ceased to exist after 1986.
Lewis is at a loss to explain how this has come to pass.
“Houston is one of the biggest cities in the world, and there’s so many companies that are headquartered here, and I kind of throw it out to them to say, ‘Hey, let’s get us here more often. Let’s have a tournament here every year, because there’s plenty of good golf courses that are able to do that’,” she said. “In general, we don’t play a lot in Texas. The Dallas event has only been here recently. Like I said before, just having the kids to be able to come and have role models and have aspirations, to want to be in this tournament one day, that’s what we’re missing this week.
“From that aspect, I think it’s kind of sad for the kids in the area. But hopefully, this will maybe spark an interest and get us coming back.”
Lewis understands the pandemic has thrown a wrench into many plans, but she still sees Houston as a viable long-term candidate for an LPGA event.
“I think the way things are going right now, who knows, with what companies want to do,” she said. “But you’ve got all these energy companies in this area, and I just make a pitch to anybody that is supporting women in their organization and in their company to want to come out and to see this and to see the best in the world.”
Lewis is hopeful someone will step up. As was the case with the Vivint Houston Open, in which Astros owner Jim Crane helped take the municipal Memorial Park Golf Course and turn it into a PGA Tour home, she’s hoping another community leader will take a similar chance on the LPGA.
“Maybe they can do something to help within the tournament to help their business, so it’s a win-win for both,” Lewis said. “It usually just takes one person believing in us and having the idea.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/12/09/us-womens-open-lpga-stacy-lewis-houston/