Lewis Doesn't Let Injury Keep Her Down

FAYETTEVILLE -- Eighteen months ago, University of Arkansas golf signee Stacy Lewis of The Woodlands, Texas, lay in a hospital bed in Houston and wondered about her golfing future.

Troubled by scoliosis since childhood, Lewis underwent back surgery that would prevent her from taking a full swing for six months.

Cue the violins.

Naw, hold it. This isn't that kind of column.

Already this season, Lewis has tied a UA record with a 54-hole score of 216 in a tournament at Albuquerque, N.M., and tied a school 18-hole record with a 68 in a tourney at Lubbock, Texas.

The redshirt freshman has helped the upstart Lady Razorbacks advance to 19th in one poll, and to its current positions of No. 20 in Golfstat and No. 24 in Golfweek.

Kelley Hester, Arkansas' third-year coach, said Lewis could possibly have waited until after college to have surgery, but now is glad the decision is behind her.

"We all decided it was in her best interest to go ahead and have surgery last year," Hester said. "It probably seemed like the end of the world at the time. She couldn't even carry a book bag for three months."

Lewis, who weighs just 110 pounds, recalled, "I couldn't carry anything that weighed more than five pounds. I did a lot of swimming. I couldn't twist or bend for six months."

But after awhile, Lewis was allowed to chip and putt. The result is a short game other golfers can only envy.

"That's all she did for six months, was chip and putt," Hester said.

And when Lewis was allowed to resume long shots after six months, her reliable swing was still there.

"If anything, she's much stronger now," Hester said. "She's bulked up a little on weights."

Lewis doesn't have to take a back seat in the long-hitting department.

"Now I can go after the ball," she said, grinning.

The Lady Razorbacks already figured to be improved this season, with U.S. Amateur finalist Amanda McCurdy and two-time collegiate co-medalist Courtney Mahon leading a strong junior class.

Lewis has been the icing on the cake, along with senior Gena Johnson and junior Sarah Trew.

"We've got 10 players and we're going to redshirt two freshmen: Brittany Lavy of Fayetteville and Whitney Sylvan of Columbia, S.C.," Hester said.

Sylvan is good enough to have qualified as an individual for a tournament this year. Ashley Medders, another freshman from Alma, Ga., qualified as an individual for the Mercedes-Benz tournament at Knoxville, Tenn., this weekend. Her score won't count for the team, but she'll gain experience.

"We've played well at Knoxville in the past," Hester said. "There will be seven teams from the Central Regional and quite a few SEC teams there. I think we were fifth there last year. Courtney lost the individual competition in a playoff."

For this weekend's 54-hole event, Hester will take McCurdy, Mahon, Lewis, Johnson and Trew.

"Stacy is still in the 'get-to' mode," Hester said. "Sometimes some players can get in the 'have-to' mode, where they have to travel, have to get up at 6:15 in the morning for workouts, have to miss classes to play tournaments. Stacy played so little competitive golf for a year that she's excited to play.

Arkansas' team stroke average of 74.24 is sixth among SEC teams, and is about three shots higher per round than No. 1 Duke's 71.23. Lewis leads Arkansas at 72.0.

The Lady'Backs hope for a good showing this week, as a springboard into their own Lady Razorback Invitational at Pinnacle in Rogers on Oct. 17-19.

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