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Stacy Lewis comes through at LPGA Cambia Portland Classic
Stacy Lewis weathered a challenge on the back nine and captured the LPGA Cambia Portland Classic by one shot on Sunday — and will donate as promised the first prize of $195,000 to hurricane relief in her hometown of Houston.
"I've never been one to play for money, but this week I was playing for money," Lewis said.
Lewis held off South Korea's In Gee Chun, finishing at 20-under-par 268 with a final round of 3-under 69 at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.
Chun shot a bogey-less 66.
Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand and Brittany Altomare of Prattville, Alabama tied for third at 14-under.
Down the stretch, the 46th Portland LPGA tournament turned into a two-way battle in the final threesome, and it wasn't decided until the final stroke, a short par putt by Lewis.
"I'm glad I don't have to play another hole," she said.
Lewis' husband, University of Houston women's golf coach Gerrod Chadwell, flew into Portland on Sunday without her knowledge, as the former world No. 1 was also gunning for her first title since 2014.
Chun rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 No. 16 to get to 19-under, one off the pace.
"I wrote down a 2 on the scorecard before she even hit her putt because I knew she was going to make it," Lewis said.
Lewis made a key up-and-down on the par-4 17th, chipping downhill on a firm green to within seven feet and draining the save to preserve her lead.
On the par-4 18th, Chun drove first and went into the first cut of rough on the right. Lewis also pushed her tee shot, which found the fairway bunker.
Chun carried her short iron approach bit too far. She hit it to the back of the green and couldn't get the ball to stop. It wound up in the back rough.
Lewis, with a perfect lie, hit a better shot from 138 yards, with an 8-iron, and got her ball to stop on the back of the green.
Chun struck a decent chip, but it stopped eight feet away.
Lewis was able to lag her approach putt to less than two feet of the cup.
Chun sank her par putt, leaving Lewis with one final bit of work to do.
The former Arkansas Razorbacks star was up to the task, rapping in the final stroke of the week at CECC to the roars of the crowd.
She let her putter fall to the ground as her ball went into the hole, then waved to the fans and cried in the arms of her husband during tehir embrace on the 72nd green.
Was it as hard as she expected it would be to finish the job over the course of the fourth round?
"Way harder. In Gee just played great. I knew she would," Lewis said. "I was hitting a lot of good shots, a lot of good putts … they just weren't going on.
"To hit that shot out of the bunker on 18 is something you dream about. ... It was one of the (best) shots of my life."
Lewis was making her 83rd start since her last victory. It wasn't like she was in a tailspin. During that span, she won $4.2 million, with 37 finishes in the top 10 and 12 runner-up showings.
"I'm excited to get that monkey off my back and just to know that I can do it, hit the shots and putts when I need to," Lewis said. "It's nice to see yourself do that again.
"The last 2 1/2, three years have been really hard, really frustrating at times."
Finishing second in tournaments, "sometimes it's your fault, sometimes it's not," she said. Her husband went through "all of that with me, and it was probably harder on him than me.
"I knew I could win, but it's always hard."
This week, she had a unqiue calmness about her from start to finish, and especially over the tension-packed final holes.
"Whatever was going to happen was going to happen," she said. "I just handed over the controls (to God) and said, 'Take me there.'"
Lewis pledged before the tourney to give her winnings to help Houston recover from hurricane Harvey.
"When I said that, I had the goal of winning the tournament," Lewis said. "But you've got to get a lot of things right to get that to go your way."
Annoucing her pledge "probably made things harder, because there were more people following me, more phone messages and more social media. People wanted me to do well. People wanted me to win this for Houston."
The 5-5 Lewis, 32, now has 12 career victories (including two majors) and more than $12 million in career money. She entered the week ranked 18th in the world.
Chun, 5-9 and age 23, won the 2015 U.S. Women's Open before turning pro the following year. Her career earnings are about $2.4 million, and she was ranked sixth in the world coming to Portland.
In the Canadian Pacific Women's Open last week at Ottawa, Lewis tied for 12th and Chun tied for third.
Lewis began Sunday at 17-under, three ahead of Jutanugarn and four in front of Chun.
Two-time defending champion Brooke Henderson of Canada was well nine after shooting 74 on Saturday, but had a strong round going on Sunday until a triple bogey on the 18th. She finished tied for 15th at 278, with a final-day 70.
Lewis had four birdies and a bogey over the first seven holes, then made all pars the rest of the way. It was just good enough to become the first U.S. winner of the Portland tournament since Austin Ernst in 2014 and only the second U.S. champion at Portland in the past nine years.
Lewis' sponsors, KPMG and Marathon, also announced that they will pitch in with the efforts to help Houston. KPMG will match her donation, and Marathon plans to contribute $1 million.
So Sunday was a win-win-win, with Portland getting to see one of the game's premier players returning to the winner's circle in the process.
"This is my favorite golf course all year," Lewis said during the awards ceremony with sponsors and tournament officials. "Thank you for bringing us back every year. It's an honor to finally have my name on that big trophy."