ROGERS, Ark. (AP) — Former world No. 1 Stacy Lewis has been busy since winning her last tournament two years ago, getting engaged and preparing for her upcoming wedding in August.
The former Arkansas standout and two-time LPGA Player of the Year tries to get back into winning form this week when she returns to her college home for the NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club.
Lewis won the 2014 tournament in front of a vocal and supportive gallery, her 11th victory overall. However, the 31-year-old hasn't won since, falling to 10th in the world rankings and struggling to balance her usual on-course focus with her off-course life.
"I would definitely say the golf itself is not where it needs to be, but I feel like personally I'm in a great place," Lewis said. "A lot of good balance going on in my life."
While Lewis' standard of play this season hasn't been at the level of when she was the LPGA's Player of the Year in both 2012 and 2014, she has finished second in two tournaments, including at last month's LPGA Classic in Alabama.
She has those two top 10 finishes but only one in her last eight tournaments, a prolonged stretch of inconsistency not seen in Lewis' career since a similar stretch in 2010 when she missed three cuts. That was before the first of her 11 victories between 2011 and 2014, and it was only her second season as a full-time professional.
It was also before Lewis' engagement late last year, after which she has talked about the difficulty of balancing her career with a desire to spend more time at home in Houston in advance of her wedding on Aug. 6.
"I mean, the golf is what it is. Your golf is going to be in cycles, you're going to have peaks where you're going to win, and then you're going to play bad for a little bit, and then you're going to win again," Lewis said. "The little valley just happens to be a little longer right now."
Lewis appeared on her way to winning the NW Arkansas Championship for a second straight time last year, leading the tournament by a stroke with three holes remaining. However, Na Yeon Choi stunned Lewis and her legion of following Razorbacks fans by holing out from 142 yards on the par-4 16th for an eagle.
That led to another birdie on No. 17 and an eventual two-stroke win for Choi, who returns to defend her title after battling a back injury during the last year.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko is also among those in the field, but all eyes locally will, as usual, be on Lewis — who hopes a busy stretch of regular play leading up until her wedding will help return her game to top form.
She's also thankful to have much of the wedding planning behind her and is already thinking, "Let's just get to the day."
"The day's going to be great, but the planning, it's just too much for me," Lewis said, laughing.