Stacy Lewis has long dreamed of leading a United States Solheim Cup squad. She didn’t expect it to happen so rapidly.
Lewis, who will be 38 years old when the biennial matches are held in Spain two Septembers from now, was named the next American captain on Wednesday morning. She will be the youngest captain in US history and the second-youngest captain in Solheim Cup history, behind only Catrin Nilsmark, who led Team Europe in 2003 at the age of 36.
“This was clearly going to happen at some time in my career,” Lewis remarked. “It’s obviously early than I anticipated, but that’s fine.” It feels like the right time for Team USA to step in, and it feels like the right time for me to step in as well.”
Lewis had been keeping the news a secret for nearly a month, having been alerted in December that she was on the short list of candidates before LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan contacted in the first week of January to offer her the job.
But she’s already started working.
Lewis, who has served as an assistant captain for the past two Solheim Cups, has primarily listened to past captains Juli Inkster, Meg Mallon, and Pat Hurst. She’s also enlisted the support of LPGA officials to create a to-do list and a recommended playing schedule for her.”
Lewis, who has qualified for five Solheim Cup teams, stated, “I know kind of how everything works the week of the Solheim, the pairings and that sort of stuff” (she withdrew because of injury in 2019 before transitioning to an assistant role at Gleneagles). “I just don’t know how the planning process works or what measures we need to take, so I’ll rely on them.”
With that stated, Lewis, the mother of a 3-year-old girl named Chesnee, intends to compete as much as she can in order to be around her potential players – particularly the rookies – and possibly serve as a playing captain. The former world No. 1, who is now the player director for the LPGA Board, is still in the top 50 of the Rolex Rankings (No. 46) and has two top-eight finishes in her last two LPGA starts.”
“I always assumed I wouldn’t be playing when I was captain,” Lewis remarked. “Coming out the way I’ve played the last month or so, I’d say the last two weeks have definitely changed my thinking on it.” But for the time being, I’m not going to say yes or no. If my name is still on that points list and I’m in the mix next summer, and if I need to put together the best team possible, and my name is a part of that, I’ll do it.”
Lewis hasn’t given much thought to her captaining style. She intends to “maintain the premise” of the pod system used by recent captains, but she also wants to add her own twist to give the system greater flexibility.
“I just felt like we didn’t have a lot of options with our pairings as things started to happen, especially last year,” Lewis added.
Lewis has been penning down similar thoughts in a notepad for the past few weeks. She carries it with her wherever she goes and even keeps it next to her bed.
She keeps a notebook in which she jots down everything that comes to mind.
“It’ll all help me build a plan for the next 18 months,” said Lewis, who will try to halt the United States’ recent Solheim Cup losing streak — the US has lost two consecutive and four of the last six Solheim Cups. Suzann Pettersen, a nine-time Solheim Cup winner who has won 18 matches and four Cups, will be her European captain for the first time.
Lewis, on the other hand, has only been a part of two winning teams throughout her Cup career, with a record of 5-10-1.
Lewis recounted a scenario from one of those victories, the 2015 Solheim Cup in Germany, in which Inkster, the captain at the time, enlisted the help of Lewis, one of her best players, to help her with the singles lineup.
Inkster was also the one who recently told Lewis, “You’re ready for this.”
“That’s the biggest confidence boost I’ve ever gotten,” Lewis added. “Right now, I feel like the squad needs me.”
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