Stacy Lewis hadn’t even been named captain of the United States for the 2023 Solheim Cup when she began scribbling in a notepad. She may be the youngest captain of Team USA at 36, but she believes there will be plenty more like her. She’s already thinking of ways to improve the position, in true Lewis fashion.
“Behind the scenes, I want to set things up in place for future captains, so certain things from when the announcement is made to when you go about the process of doing your clothes and your bag and all that stuff, that it’s already kind of in place and set up, that it’s not kind of reinventing the wheel every time,” Lewis told a group of reporters. Because I believe your captains will continue to be younger in the future. They may still be playing the same way I am, so there has to be a balance.”
Lewis, who will lead the USA’s bid to recapture the Solheim Cup from Team Europe on September 22-24 at Finca Cortesin in Spain, is already a great believer in practice sessions, aiming to make sure the Solheim week routines are as comfortable as possible for all 12 players. According to Lewis, this will be the most difficult event of their careers inside the ropes, and she intends to make it as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. She, too, wishes to triumph.
Lewis will preserve some of the pod system set in place by three-time captain Juli Inkster, but make it more adaptable.
“It all boils down to making putts,” Lewis added. “At Inverness, we didn’t do enough of that.” That’s what I was talking about when I said I was in these last groups and learning how to deal with the pressure and emotions. That’s essentially what putting is all about.”
Could she perhaps set an example in Spain next year? Lewis never envisaged herself as a playing captain in 2022. She isn’t giving up after opening the 2022 season with T-4, T-8, and T-18.
“I’ll do it if I need to assemble the best team possible, and my name is a part of that,” she said.
When Lewis said she expected to do a lot of listening in the coming months, she sounded a little like a rookie commissioner. She wants to speak with fans, the media, players, caddies, and the families of players. The United States has lost the last two Solheim Cups, and she is determined to alter that.
She stated, “I want to discover out what we’re missing.” “The missing components that will help these girls play better and provide a better experience for the spectators or whatever it is.”
The Solheim Cup is the most important tournament in the women’s game, and Lewis wants everyone on her squad to be aware of its history and significance. She wants as many former players and captains as possible to be involved so that current players may sense their passion.
Lewis, a 13-time LPGA winner who rose to No. 1 and won two majors, is a big-picture thinker and direct communicator. She’ll listen to suggestions and make concessions, but there will be no gray area. Despite her poor Solheim Cup record of 5-10-1, she’s candid about what she’s learnt over the years. For example, after a missed putt in Colorado, she became furious and went off the green, only to have partner Paula Creamer yell at her to return and be a decent partner.
“Gosh, when you lose in golf, you have more humbling moments,” she added.
Lewis was a challenging kid growing up with scoliosis. It also provided her with a unique perspective. She wasn’t a prodigy or even a top college recruit when she was a kid. She gradually, and somewhat unexpectedly, grew into the best player in the world, strengthening the tour in the process. She’s now a working mom, working hard to improve the trip for future generations.
By the time the next Solheim Cup comes around, Lewis will be 38 years old. Patty Sheehan, who was 45 years old at the time, was the youngest US captain to date. When Catrin Nilsmark led Europe to victory in 2003, she was 36 years old.
“You’re ready for this,” Juli Inkster, who worked on the committee that nominated Lewis with previous former captains Meg Mallon and Pat Hurst, told her.
There is no dispute about that.
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