Stacy Lewis hits golf ball after golf ball on the practice range with her goals clearly defined.
"I want to be the best American player," Lewis said, "and then get No. 1 in the world. When I sit out there and beat balls every day, that's what I'm thinking about."
Lewis is one of the LPGA's best and most inspirational stories. She overcame scoliosis to become one the world's top players. She is No. 6 in the Rolex World Rankings.
Many LPGA fans say the tour needs a dominant American to boost the tour's profile in the United States.
Lewis wants to be that player. Many players would shy away from stating such a lofty goal. Not Lewis. Her website proclaims her "The next great American golfer."
"I think I've probably been playing as good, if not better, than a lot of the American players and I haven't got noticed yet," she said. "I think if you're up on that leaderboard enough and you win enough golf tournaments, people will start to take notice. I haven't been noticed, but it's driving me every day."
Lewis already is one of the best stories in all of golf. Her struggle to overcome scoliosis should translate to the mainstream sports world and general public.
Doctors diagnosed her with scoliosis when she was 11. Lewis wore a back brace 18 hours a day for more than seven-and-a-half years. She took the brace off only to play golf. She underwent spinal surgery when she was 18 to place a titanium rod and five screws in her back.
Now, she's an inspiration. Girls show up at tournaments to root for her. Lewis receives plenty of letters and emails from those with the condition.
"It's an honor really to have kids to look up to me," she said. "You know, it makes me kind of think how lucky I am to be doing what I'm doing."
The letters don't only come from young golfers.
"I got a letter from a girl that's a horseback rider or swimmer," Lewis said. "It's really cool. It's something that I guess nobody else has."
Lewis grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. She excelled playing for the University of Arkansas, graduating in 2008.
Lewis won her first event at the Kraft Nabisco Championship - an LPGA major - in April 2010 in Palm Springs, Calif.
Lewis began the final round two shots back of Yani Tseng, the world's No.1 women's player. Lewis shot a 3-under-par 69 to beat Tseng by three shots.
The victory made Lewis a player to watch at every LPGA event. She finished 2011 No. 4 on the money list with $1,356,211 in earnings.
Her second victory came last month at the Mobile LPGA Championship - the last full-field LPGA event before the Classic. Lewis has finished in the top-10 in six of nine events this year.
Lewis admitted she felt pressure to win her second event.
"I didn't want to be a one-hit wonder," she said. "I also kind of wanted to prove to people that the Kraft meant something, it wasn't just Yani played bad the last day. I wanted to prove that I can play out here and I can compete."
With victories comes media requests, sponsorships and attention from fans.
The financial company KPMG signed Lewis this April to a sponsorship deal. The firm also sponsors PGA star Phil Mickelson.
"I think it's her warmth," said KPMG chairman and chief executive officer John Veihmeyer at an LPGA news conference in March before this year's Kraft Nabsico. "It's how genuine she is, it's just the way she interacts with everybody she comes in contact with."
Some LPGA players have struggled in the past with handling off-the-course attention. Lewis seems ready for whatever comes her way.
"I welcome it," she said. "I think if people are asking you to do interviews or speak to a group of people or whatever it may be, I think that's a good reason, you're doing something right. I want the pressure on me, I want people to think of me as a good golfer because that's what I think of myself."
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