by Whitney Ullman
The Shoprite LPGA Classic presented by Acer takes place May 27-June 2 at The Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club.
2012 winner Stacy Lewis is coming back to defend her title, and she chatted with NJ.com about her bond with the community that prompted a $20,000 donation to the Community FoodBank after Hurricane Sandy.
NJ.COM: How many years have you been playing at The Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club?
LEWIS: I think I've played the last 4 years. This would be the 5th.
What are some of your best memories of playing here in Galloway?
LEWIS: Obviously coming back as the defending champion is certainly a great memory. I've stayed down in the casino the last few years. I'm not a huge gambler, but there are a lot of good restaurants and good shopping...I'm really supportive of the community, it's just a great place to come and I'm glad to be back.
You certainly showed your support of the community when you found out about Hurricane Sandy and donated $20,000 to the Community FoodBank. Where were you when it happened?
LEWIS: I was in Japan. We played Asia at the end of the year and I was watching CNN. I remember seeing one of the reporters down on the boardwalk in Atlantic City and thinking, God I was there, I know where they are. It really kind of hit home that we play a tournament here, and we thought about the golf course here and what the people were going through. The first thing that came to my head was that I wanted to help. I mean, I was the defending champion and that was part of it, but more than anything I just wanted to help. I talked to my agent, talked to my parents, got in touch with some people here and it just kind of all came together. We came up with the Food Bank as a good place to start. I just thought that if I can help the people these first few weeks, help them get back on their feet, basically get them moving in the right direction.
You're a very humble and quiet person, how did it feel to be in the spotlight for your donation?
LEWIS: It got some pretty good exposure. I wasn't really planning on all of the exposure. They had to convince me to even write an article that I was doing it, but I didn't do it for that. I don't do it for the rewards. I do it to help people. Just to say thank you to this community because they have given so much to the tour the last few years and I felt like I should give back to them.
Were you able to visit the FoodBank and see how your contribution helped?
LEWIS: This is actually my first visit back, but I know that tournament week I plan to visit the food bank and see where that money went and exactly what they are doing there.
As a child you had scoliosis and back surgery, how did you overcome that?
LEWIS: At 11 I was diagnosed with scoliosis and I had to wear a back brace for 6.5 years. For about 3 or 4 years I was going to the doctor and hoping that it would be that one appointment where I wouldn't have to wear the brace anymore. It didn't happen for a long time and then it turned out that the brace didn't work. I eventually had surgery when I was 18. They put a rod and 5 screws in my back, so it's not something I would wish on any kid. I don't think anybody should have to go through what I did, but if all that didn't happen, I wouldn't be where I am today. It taught me perseverance and to be thankful and grateful for all that I have.
But with such an ailment, what convinced you to start playing golf?
LEWIS: I started playing golf at 8, so I was playing prior to the diagnosis. The doctor really encouraged me to keep playing, so I wore the brace 18 hours a day. Golf was the time that I didn't have to wear it, and I think that's really why I was drawn to golf. I could play 18 holes in 4 or 5 hours and that's 4 or 5 hours out of the brace. So that’s how golf came into the picture for me.
With all of the press you do, can you describe a typical day in your life?
LEWIS: It's pretty crazy. Tournament days are pretty standard, you play your golf, but the first few days of the week are doing TV shows and interviews, trying to squeeze some practice in there. I'm all over the place lately, I'm on CNN doing David Ferry. It's been a whirlwind the last couple of months.
What's your diet like?
LEWIS: I try to eat fairly healthy but it's hard on the road. It's hard when you travel to eat the way you should, but I do take care of myself because you have to. I play enough golf and do a lot of traveling that you have to stay hydrated and take care of yourself.
Do you watch any reality shows? What's your favorite?
LEWIS: I like 'American Idol,' 'The Voice,' 'So You Think You Can Dance,' those kind of shows. I'm also into shows like 'Scandal' and 'Revenge.'
Is there anything you would like to tell your fans?
LEWIS: Come out and support us during the week of the tournament. Just come out, hopefully we'll have a great crowd and see some great golf. We'll take all the support we can get.
Whitney is an on-air multimedia personality, and works behind the scenes helping businesses gain extra exposure, through her WIN Promotions video production services.