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Stacy Lewis ready to play captaincy at next Solheim Cup

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Stacy Lewis hadn’t even been publicly announced as the 2023 US Solheim Cup captain when she started filling out a notebook. At 36, she may be the youngest to be named Team USA captain, but she thinks many more will follow. In Lewis’ true form, she’s already thinking of ways to improve the job.

“Behind the scenes, I want to put things in place for future captains,” Lewis told a group of reporters, “so some things from when the announcement is made to when you start doing your clothes and your bag and all that, that it’s already in place and in place, that it’s not about reinventing the wheel every time. Because I think looking to the future, your captains are going to continue to be younger. They could still play like me, so there has to be a balance there.

ST LEON-ROT, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 20: Stacy Lewis of Team USA holds the Solheim Cup trophy during the Solheim Cup closing ceremony at St Leon-Rot Golf Club on September 20, 2015 in St Leon-Rot , in Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Lewis, who will lead the United States’ effort to reclaim the Solheim Cup from Team Europe at Finca Cortesin in Spain from September 22-24, is already big on training sessions, wanting to make sure the routines of Solheim’s week are comfortable for all 12 players as best they can. It will be the toughest event of their ropes career, Lewis said, and she is working to make it as fun and stress-free as possible. She also wants to win.

Lewis will keep some of the pod system that three-time captain Juli Inkster put in place, but make it more flexible.

“It’s about making putts,” Lewis said. “We haven’t done enough in Inverness. That’s what I talked about, being in those last bands and learning to deal with the pressure and the emotions that come with it. That’s really what putting is all about.

Could she lead by example next year in Spain? As 2022 approaches, Lewis never imagined she would be captain. But after opening the 2022 season T-4, T-8 and T-18, she doesn’t count.

“If I need to build the best team possible and my name is part of it,” she said, “then I will.”

Lewis sounded a bit like a new commissioner when she noted that she planned to do a lot of listening over the next few months. She wants to speak to the fans, the media, the players, the caddies and the families of the players. Team USA has lost the last two Solheim Cups and they are determined to do the work necessary to change that.

“I want to understand what we are missing,” she says. “The pieces that we’re missing to help these girls play better and make it a better experience for the fans or whatever.”

TOLEDO, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 02: United States alternate captain Stacy Lewis and her daughter Chesnee attend a practice round before the start of the Solheim Cup at Inverness Club on September 02, 2021 in Toledo, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Solheim Cup is the biggest milestone in women’s football, and Lewis wants everyone on her team to understand the history of the event and the weight of its significance. She wants former players and former captains to be involved as much as possible so that current players can feel their passion.

A 13-time LPGA winner, No. 1 winner and two major tournament winners, Lewis is a global thinker and outspoken communicator. She will take advice and compromise, but there will be no gray area. While her Solheim Cup record falls short at 5-10-1, she is open about what she has learned over the years. Like the time in Colorado when she got frustrated after a missed putt and walked off the green, only to have her partner Paula Creamer yell at her to come back and be a good partner.

“God, you have more humble moments in golf when you lose,” she said.

Growing up with scoliosis made Lewis tough. It also gave him great perspective. She was not a child prodigy or even a top college freshman. She slowly, and somewhat surprisingly, became the best player in the world and strengthened the tour in the process. Now she’s a mother working hard to make the tour better for generations to come.

Lewis will be 38 at the time of the next Solheim Cup. The youngest American captain to date was Patty Sheehan in 2002 at age 45. Catrin Nilsmark was 36 when she led Europe to victory in 2003.

Juli Inkster, who along with recent former captains Meg Mallon and Pat Hurst served on the committee that selected Lewis, told him, “You’re ready for this.”

Of that, there is no doubt.