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Stacy Lewis moves into lead in Alabama
September 22, 2012

Stacy Lewis -15, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Angela Stanford – 13, Rolex Rankings No. 17
Lizette Salas -12, Rolex Rankings No. 146
Mi Jung Hur -11, Rolex Rankings No. 156
Haeji Kang – 11, Rolex Rankings No. 59
Lexi Thompson -10, Rolex Rankings No. 25

Stacy Lewis opened up a two-shot lead over Angela Stanford on Saturday in her quest to achieve the Alabama Slam at the Navistar LPGA Classic. The Rolex Rankings No. 3 shot a bogey-free 65 with seven birdies to move to 15-under-par 201 for the week in pursuit of her second victory in Alabama this season dating back to the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, the first of her two victories on Tour this season. Lewis’s assault of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail continued on Saturday, where she carded five birdies – including four of the first five holes – on the front nine of Capitol Hill’s Senator Course to turn in 31. She added three birdies on the back nine to shoot 65 for the fourth time this season.

“I think going into today I knew I needed to make birdies just the way the scores had been all day, and you don't know if you're ever going to start off like that,” she said. “You can kind of hit it good warming up, but you never really know what you're going to take to the course.”

It’s safe to say Stacy Lewis enjoys playing the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama. Lewis defeated Lexi Thompson by one shot in April at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic at Magnolia Grove’s Crossings Course with a four-day score of 17-under-par 271. Her combined seven round total on the RTJ Golf Trail this season is 32-under-par. Lewis, who became a Rolex First-Time Winner in 2011 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, can regain the No. 2 spot on the Rolex Rankings with a victory tomorrow.

A relatively inexperienced first page of the leaderboard could help Lewis. Other than Angela Stanford, who won earlier this season at the HSBC Women’s Champions and boasts five total LPGA victories, there are a total of seven total victories amongst the 13 players in the top 10 (not counting Lewis and Stanford) entering final round play at the Navistar LPGA Classic. Stanford shot 4-under-par 68 on Saturday to move to 13-under-par 203 for the week. The 34-year-old has four top-10 finishes this season and is looking to win twice in a season for the second time in her 12-year career.

“To win early in the year and late in the year would be pretty big, because I think it's such a long year that there's so many ups and downs, it would be nice to have another up,” Stanford said.

Lewis hopes that her name at the top of the leaderboard will give her an advantage over some other inexperienced players.

“I feel like I've played really well this year and I knew looking at the leaderboard yesterday that there are a lot of players that have never been there and that some probably wouldn't know how to handle it. So I knew that was to my advantage and so I just took care of my game.”

Seventeen-year-old Lexi Thompson hit a speed bump in her quest for a second-consecutive victory at the Navistar LPGA Classic with a 74 on Saturday. Thompson, who entered the third round with a one-shot lead thanks in large part to a career-low 63 on Thursday, dropped into a tie for sixth after 54 holes, five shots off the pace of Stacy Lewis.

“Well, I'm definitely not out of it,” she said. “I mean, I shot 63 the first day, so if I just have a round like that, I know I can be in contention. Just going to go out and free swing and just try to make birdies, hopefully a few more putts drop.”

Dori Carter can greatly improve her 2012 LPGA Tour status tomorrow with a solid finish. The second-year professional is currently 115th on the LPGA Official Money List, just more than $15,000 behind the cutoff for Category 11 status in 2013 which would essentially make her exempt. Carter is currently tied for ninth at 9-under-par 207. She is the only player in the top-10 currently outside top 100 on the money list.

The leaderboard following the third round of the Navistar LPGA Classic contains six players who are rarely seen in their current position, and all of whom are seeking to become the seventh Rolex First-Time Winner of the season.

Rookies Lizette Salas (3rd) and Syndee Michaels (T9) have shown they can keep up with the veterans as both have been in contention in previous tournaments this year. Each posted a season-best finish at the Safeway LPGA Classic presented by Coca-Cola, where Michaels shared the lead during the first round to finish with a tie for 7th while Salas finished with a tie for 12th.

Sitting at third place today, Salas says her positive attitude and continuous smile has helped her stay calm on the course as she plays among the veterans and she plans to carry the same demeanor as she plays with LPGA winners Angela Stanford and Stacy Lewis in the leader group tomorrow.

“Tomorrow, nothing changes,” Salas said. “Game plan is to stay patient and just play with confidence, I think that's the main thing for me. Just keep it -- keep rolling the rock, that's what I've been told this whole week, and just to stay positive.”

Sarah Jane Smith (T6), Vicky Hurst (T9), Jennifer Johnson (T9) and Dori Carter (T9) are also in search of capturing their first title this week.

“I think the world of her, but I'm going to try to beat her tomorrow like she's trying to beat me.” – Angela Stanford on Stacy Lewis.

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