Stacy Lewis got some great news before Saturday’s third round of the 2019 Hugel-Air Premia LA Open: She’s been exempted into the 2019 US Women’s Open after all.
Lewis was initially denied a deferred exemption by the USGA, and she was set to compete in a 36-hole regional qualifier on May 8 in Texas. However, on second look and an appeal, the USGA decided they would grant Lewis an exemption, as well Brittany Lincicome, who is presently exempt and also pregnant, still deciding how long she’ll continue to compete before she’s due in September.
When Lewis went on maternity leave, she was ranked 33rd in the Rolex Rankings, but she left the LPGA in early summer. She finished the year ranked 57th in the world and 99th on the final LPGA money list for 2019. Under the USGA’s current exemption criteria for the US Women’s Open, Lewis would not be exempt. However, in 2020, the USGA will use the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings to determine exemptions. If that standard was applied in 2019, then Lewis would be exempt was part of the world top 60.
Lewis said Saturday she was grateful to get to play at the Country Club of Charleston at the end of May, but she would’ve been glad if she hadn’t played and was able to inspire the changes coming to the USGA maternity policy.
“It’s really more about going forward,” she said. “It wasn’t about me personally. If I didn’t play this year and it caused things to change, that’s great, too. So I’m just glad it worked out in my favor this time.”
For their part, the USGA had already exempted Suzann Pettersen and Gerina Piller into the US Women’s Open, both coming off giving birth last season and deferring 2018 exemptions into the Women’s Open.
In announcing the exemptions for Lewis and Lincicome, the USGA indicated it will look at a full review of its exemptions and deferment for maternity and paternity leave, as well in situations of child birth and adoption. That’s great news from an organization that is trying to get things right on a number of fronts, including the new Rules of Golf.