Even with all her achievements as an amateur - a four-time all-American at Arkansas, the 2007 NCAA champion, and the first player to go 5-0 in the history of the Curtis Cup - Stacy Lewis found the LPGA Tour to be quite challenging after she joined in 2009.

She tended to put a lot of pressure on herself. She showed her temper when things didn't go well on the course. Even when she was successful, she didn't appear to be enjoying the journey all that much.

But Lewis, who wore a back brace from ages 11 through 18 because of scoliosis, found help and guidance by speaking with LPGA Hall of Fame members such as Beth Daniel, Betsy King, and Nancy Lopez, along with four-time major champion Meg Mallon.

"They've all kind of helped me in their own way," said Lewis, the top-ranked American player, who will defend her championship in the ShopRite LPGA Classic starting Friday at Stockton Seaview's Bay Course in Galloway Township.

"Betsy was the reason I went to Africa [for charity] and she helped me kind of find a purpose to what I do. Beth and Meg and Nancy, they've helped me on the golf course and dealing with everything. Nancy gets what it's like to be that top American to have the spotlight and Beth does, too."

If you watch Lewis grind on the golf course, one player she truly resembles is Daniel, who was the last American to win LPGA player of the year in 1994 before Lewis did it in 2012.

"We're pretty similar with our style of play; we get pretty fired up out there," Lewis said. "She's helped me reel that in and how to use it to my advantage."

Daniel said Lewis has a special way of seeking information.

"I don't know if I gave her any kind of specific advice," she said in a recent telephone interview. "Stacy is funny because she doesn't really ask you a specific question. She'll just kind of start talking about something and then you kind of chime in and that gives her the answer. Or she'll keep talking to you until she gets what she's looking for.

"So we'll have a nice conversation and you don't think it's a big deal. Then the next thing you know, she's giving you credit for helping her with something. It's kind of an odd thing."

One example came during Lewis' 2012 player of the year run when stress started to affect her. She called Daniel, who told her that she had won the 1994 award on the final hole of the final tournament when Laura Davies missed a six-foot putt. Had Davies made the putt, Davies would have been player of the year.

"That really put it in perspective," Lewis said. "I'm thinking, 'I can't stress like this.' I won in Japan the next week and clinched it. So hearing those experiences, that really helps."

Off the course, Lewis' life was changed after she met King - the former Limekiln, Pa., resident who won 34 LPGA events - and went with her on a trip to Africa in 2010 as part of King's charity, Golf Fore Africa. One of its goals is to bring clean water to Zambia.

"It was really eye-opening," Lewis said. "I got to really see that it was just about food and water. They didn't know what golf was or who we were. They were just really appreciative. It was really cool that it was just about the basics, and that put into perspective what we do every day."

Lewis won the LPGA's three major awards last year - player of the year, the money title, and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. While she has yet to win this season, she is not discouraged, and Daniel sees her at ease.

"When I watch her now, I see her showing her happier side a lot more," she said. "She is trying to enjoy the process of it. She's above other players just in how she approaches mentally every aspect of the game and how you approach it."