After 112 years, golf is back in the Olympics. And while many golfers, including Rory McIlroy, have recently pulled their names from Olympic consideration, others like Stacy Lewis find the inclusion of the sport in the 2016 Games to be an “honor.”
“I think golf being a part of the Olympics is fantastic,” Lewis, 31, tells Us Weekly. “They have such a tremendous reach that so many people, young and old, will get to experience the game, some for the first time in their lives. We’ll get to be in the spotlight on network TV for four straight days in front of the entire world. It’s really exciting and something that I hope I can be a part of, representing my country.”
While Lewis gets many chances to compete on a major stage, she acknowledges that this time is extra special.
“The chance to represent your country and be around the other athletes that are there would be such a cool and unique experience. It would be unlike anything else I’ve ever played or participated in. On the golf course, it would be a similar feel to the format we deal with playing on Tour, but the chance to earn a medal at the end of the week will make it extra special. The whole experience, it’s something that no one can ever take away from you,” she says.
“If you look at it from an opportunity standpoint, an Olympic medal is so special because you only get the chance to win one every four years," she continues. "In that same time period, we’ve got 20 opportunities to win a major title before the chance to win another Olympic medal comes around.”
Lewis — who will find out after July 11 if she has qualified for the Games — started playing at the age of 8 and quickly fell in love with the sport.
“My dad and grandfather taught me the game. My grandfather was basically the reason I started playing. He loved taping the golf tournaments and we would watch them over and over again together,” the 31-year-old says.
But the sport had even more importance to the LPGA tour star, who had struggled with scoliosis since age 11.
“The only time I was really allowed to take the brace off was when I was playing golf,” she explains. “Golf was my escape, and it became my passion as I earned a scholarship to play at The University of Arkansas. After my surgery, I battled hard through months of rehabilitation and eventually played well enough to become a national champion in 2007. I knew after my success at the collegiate level that I could compete and hang with the pros. I’m still very grateful to be able to play this game every day.”
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