Stacy Lewis had a breakthrough year of four LPGA Tour victories this season to become the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to win the points-based Player of the Year award.

She'll be honored Friday night during the LPGA Titleholders, which begins Thursday at TwinEagles Golf Club in Naples, Fla. She'll also have a special guest Friday night, Dr. Gary Brock.

Lewis, 27, was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 11, so severe that she wore a back brace for 18 hours every day from age 11 until she got out of high school.

She had to have surgery when that didn't correct the curvature in her spine. The original plan was to insert two rods in her back, but Brock suggested a single rod with five screws, which would allow Lewis more flexibility and rotation for golf. It also meant going in from the side, breaking a rib and maneuvering around two major blood vessels.

"I remember he (Brock) called my wife and I and said, 'We need to do a different surgery,' " said Dale Lewis, her father. "He said, 'It's going to take twice as along. It's twice as risky. The recovery is twice as long. But she'll be so much more flexible.' "

Lewis took it from there. She spent her first year at the University of Arkansas recovering from surgery. She could only chip and putt for six months before she was allowed to swing, and she earned a spot on the women's golf team. As a junior, she won the NCAA title. As a senior, she tied for third at the Kraft Nabisco Championship as an amateur.

"It's amazing how you make a decision a certain way, how little things seem to fall into place and you can look back say that was a turning point." Lewis said of the surgery.


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"I don't think anything would have held her back."

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