Imagine signing a talented young girl, literally weeks after her college graduation ceremony, and then less than three weeks later watching her charge to the top of the leader board after three rounds of the biggest tournament in her sport (and her first as a professional). Jeff Chilcoat, President of the Columbus, OH based Sterling Sports Management, signed former University of Arkansas phenom Stacy Lewis earlier this month. Today, Lewis fired a 67 at the Interlachen CC in Minnesota to take a one shot lead over Paula Creamer, one of the LPGA’s seemingly endless crop of young, bright (and attractive) talents and represented by Jay Burton of IMG, in the 63rd U.S. Women’s Open.
Lewis’ story of perseverance is outlined in Sterling Sports’ press release of a few weeks back, and also in more detail by Steve Elling, both of which are worth reading while you watch tomorrow to see if Stacy can pull this improbable feat off. Lewis spent a year in a back brace in college, recovering from a surgery for scoliosis, uncertain whether truly competitive golf would ever be in her future again. She returned to become one of the most dominant college players in recent history, and stated on NBC today that stretching exercises keeps her back limber. But no drill can help Lewis with sleeping on this particular third round lead tonight, or with handling whatever comes up on the famed and tightly framed Donald Ross layout tomorrow. That said, Lewis looked loose in her post round interview with her father (acting as her caddy this week) by her side, and whatever happens in tomorrow’s final round, it’s reasonable to expect that she will surely be in this situation many more times in her professional career. In the meantime, Chilcoat and partner J.S. Kang can expect their phones to be pretty active for quite awhile–the reward of a good signing.