Stacy Lewis took home her first LPGA TOUR event in three years when she won the Portland Classic but was quick to deflect the celebrations as she instead donated her winners’ cheque to the flood victims of Houston.
American Lewis held off South Korea’s Chun In-ghee by one shot in Oregon to end her long wait for a return to the winners’ circle, having last tasted success in June 2014 when she lifted her 11th career title in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
But there was a slight difference after making it title number 12 in the Portland Classic, as her winnings all went to victims of Hurricane Harvey and the floods which devastated Houston and further afield in Texas.
“We’re going to be able to help people rebuild houses and get their homes back. That’s more important than any win,” said Lewis, who had made the pledge via a tweet before the tournament started, regardless of her finishing position.
A good cause
“When I said that I had the goal of winning the tournament, you’ve got to get a lot of things right, to go your way.”
They went her way and she went on to win, of course. The winners’ cheque totaled $195,000 and Lewis’ sponsors—subsequently KPMG—doubled that figure to take the donation to $390,000 for the relief fund.
Lewis added: “Honestly, I think that’s what helped me through the week, just knowing people wanted me to do well. People wanted me to win this for Houston. To do it when I added pressure to myself is a pretty good, pretty cool deal.
“I was hoping some of my sponsors would step up and donate a little bit. Obviously, I wasn’t expecting the match from KPMG.”
Close to home
The cause is personal to Lewis, who has lived in Houston since the age of 11 and who is married to Gerrod Chadwell, the head coach of the women’s golf team at the University of Houston. Chadwell turned up in Oregon unbeknown to Lewis and joined her on the 18th green after her victory was complete.
“I knew I could win, but it’s always hard,” Lewis added after the win, having had 12 runners-up finishes since last successful. “I was fine until [Gerrod] showed up and then I started crying. But just have to him here and have him support me, you know, the last two and a half, three years has been really hard.
“It’s been really frustrating at times. You go through all the emotions of finishing second when sometimes it’s your fault and sometimes it’s not, and things just don’t seem to ever go your way and you get really frustrated at times. He went through all of that with me, and it was probably as hard on him as it was on me.”
Lewis and Chadwell live at the Golf Club of Houston, the host course of the Shell Houston Open on the PGA TOUR. The course was severely hit by the floods and was left resembling a lake with fairways and green submerged after the storm.