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Published: Thursday November 15, 2012 MYT 1:12:00 PM
NAPLES, Florida - Newly-crowned player of the year Stacy Lewis leads a star-studded field of 73 golfers into the Titleholders tournament, the LPGA Tour's season-ending event.
The second annual event starts Thursday at TwinEagles Golf Club. It features a total purse of $1.5 million and comprises players who qualified at one of 26 LPGA tournaments this season.
Lewis is hoping to cap her dream season with the winner's cheque of $500,000.
She became the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to become LPGA's player of the year when South Korea's Park Inbee failed to win in Mexico last week.
This year, Lewis has won four events and earned a dozen additional top-10 finishes en route to capturing the Player of the Year award.
Rest assured, Lewis won't take this honour lightly. That's because there was a time when it was doubtful she would even pick up a golf club again.
At the age of 11, Lewis was diagnosed with scoliosis, forcing her to wear a back brace nearly 18 hours a day and eventually undergoing surgery to insert a rod into her spine. She wore the brace until she finished high school.
"I just think back to 10 years ago when I remember sitting in a doctor's office and him telling me that I was going to have to have back surgery," Lewis said. "That was the time that, I mean, I thought I would never play golf again.
"Now 10 years later I'm here winning player of the year, that's crazy.
That's not normal, you know?"
Lewis no long asks the question, "Why me?"
"I guess it's fate a little bit," she said.
Lewis will be honoured Friday night during the LPGA Titleholders event, and the doctor who performed her back surgery, Gary Brock, is flying to Florida to attend the ceremony.
Lewis could overtake Park and collect the LPGA Tour's money title if she wins the Titleholders and the first-place prize money.
Park, who has two victories this year, also has a narrow lead in the Vare Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average. - AFP
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