By SCOTT COTTOS
SYLVANIA — Stacy Lewis has returned to one of her favorite golf tournaments with a bit of extra company.
Lewis is a Toledo native who always draws a huge amount of support from family, friends and other fans when she plays in the Marathon Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club. And her fan club will grow by one in about four months when she and husband Gerrod Chadwell become parents to a girl.
The Marathon Classic, scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, will be her last event of the season before she takes temporary leave from the LPGA to engage fully in preparing for her first child.
Just as she has since turning professional in 2009, she has continued to take on all challenges of tour play, mental and physical.
“I’m due Nov. 3,” said Lewis, 33, a two-time tour player of the year whose husband is the head women’s golf coach at the University of Houston and will caddy for her this week. “It’s been interesting. Just in the last few weeks, I kind of feel some movement and things like that. So you’re standing on the tee and you feel a kick or something here and there, so that’s kind of strange.
“But the hardest part has been energy, to be honest. The golf swing really hasn’t changed much. (I’m) just working on some putting because it’s getting a little bit in the way. So, there are some minor adjustments. But luckily, nothing major so far, just trying to keep myself hydrated and rested.”
Lewis has never won the Marathon Classic; in fact, she’s rarely contended. But it’s continued to be an important event for her since she received a sponsor’s exemption in 2009 shortly after winning the NCAA individual title as an Arkansas Razorback.
“I love coming back here,” she said. “This was the first LPGA tournament that I played in. It was one I came to as a kid (though she was raised in Texas), when I was a little kid gettng autographs. I still have all the stuff that I had signed for me … just a lot of memories here.
“I’m going to get back with some family. We had a family baby shower last night, which was fun. It’s a fun week for all of us to get together and hopefully play some good golf, too.”
Since joining the tour, Lewis has won 12 tournaments, including two majors. She’s made more than $12.6 million, had a stint as No. 1 in the Rolex World Rankings and played in the Olympics.
She’s playing it by ear as to when she’ll return from her leave. Basically, for now, she has eye on a different chapter of her life.
“I don’t think I’ll be sad,” she said in regard to finishing the Marathon Classic. “I think I’ll be pretty ready, pretty tired. I definitely will miss the competitive part because I love being inside the ropes and playing. It’s just, everything else is hard; you know, the energy level we talked about. But I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve been fortunate with no injuries, so I haven’t had a break in 10 years,” she said.
“I’m excited to go home and design a nursery and do all that stuff at the same time with my husband. I’m just really looking forward to these four or five months.”
THE MENTAL GAME: Late Tuesday morning, defending champion In-Kyung Kim was looking forward to speaking about her use of meditation at the afternoon’s Marathon Classic Women’s Summit, designed as an inspirational event for northwest Ohio businesswomen.
“I think I got into meditation because of the media days and not only playing golf, but the things that I never thought I would imagine to do,” the 30-year-old South Korean said. “And meditation just kind of keeps me calm and helps me to just be myself and not worry about something I can’t control.”
LOOKING AHEAD: Part of the reason world No. 5 Lexi Thompson enjoys coming to the Toledo area is the enthusiastic support the Marathon Classic receives from the community.
She hopes to make her fourth Solheim Cup team in 2021 to see how the area responds to hosting the U.S. vs. Europe event at Inverness Club.
“I know (the Marathon Classic) is a big deal for Toledo. So I can imagine how the Solheim Cup is going to be,” Thompson, who hails from Florida, said. “I played nine holes there before it was redone, and I’m actually staying over there. It’s an unbelievable golf course.
“Just the whole area, I think it will be huge. There is nothing like the Solheim Cup. Representing your country is the highest honor, but especially in the states, being an American, hearing the USA chants, wearing your country’s colors, there is absolutely nothing like it. You’ll see some of the best golf ever. It gives me chills just thinking about it, so I just hope to be there representing.”