It’s all fun and “Woo Pig Sooie” chants until classes begin for University of Arkansas alumnae Maria Fassi and Stacy Lewis. Math and philosophy are interspersed with classes at the Midland Country Club in the second edition of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, along with a wealth of knowledge that a 13-year-old LPGA Tour veteran has to offer.
“For me, we’re going back to Monday and we can pick and choose Stacy’s brain for a couple of hours,” said Fassi, two-time ANNIKA winner and individual medalist at the 2019 NCAA championships. “I learned so much about how the game should be played. I’ve smiled more than I did all year. We are having a great time. I am happy that we play together and that I have the opportunity to learn from one of the best. “
Lewis, a 13-time LPGA Tour winner and #LPGAMom, took young Fassi under her wing this week in Midland, Michigan. They’re chasing a title as Team Tex Mex, a name derived from their native roots, but there’s the teacher-student dynamic that also takes place between the duo on the ropes.
“We really haven’t talked much about the golf swing and the specifics, it’s just the process and thinking through the shots,” said Lewis. “The best thing about her is that she can already hit the shots. So I rush them, it’s just the right shot at the right time.
“I don’t speak Spanish to her and her caddy, but I hear some numbers being thrown away and when I hear the right number I walk away knowing they are on the right track. If you take longer than I think you should, I’ll step in and say something. It was cool to watch her grow and I feel like she has had a lot since Monday. “
It’s a coaching role that Lewis took on. And Fassi, the protégé, soaks everything up like a sponge.
“The best part is that she picks it up and listens. Sometimes you try to give advice to people and they won’t listen to you. She’s definitely listening and recording, ”said Lewis. “I have the feeling that a lot of it is learning by myself. I think I’ve always been a naturally smarter player. My coaches in Arkansas would probably tell you that, except that I often used my cleverness to win golf tournaments and play to my strengths. “
Playing to their strengths is exactly what Lewis and Fassi will strive for when they start the weekend with 6 under after a second round of 65 in four-ball on Thursday.
“The main thing is to hit the right shot at the right time. There’s a time and a place to play aggressively, ”said Fassi, a Dow ambassador. “For me, it was more like knowing when to use my length as strength and then also knowing when to hold back a little more, trusting that I can still get close with an 8 or 9 iron.
“No matter what, it will be a week that I will remember for the rest of my life. It is a privilege to learn from Stacy, to compete with her and to be hyped together. I don’t think I had nearly as much fun a professional tournament as this week. “