LPGA summer begins at Atlantic City

Posted: May 28, 2015 6:06 pm

GALLOWAY, N.J. – This year’s LPGA ShopRite Classic could be called, with minimal reaching, U.S. Women’s Open Lite.

It’s being held about 140 miles from Lancaster, hard by the Jersey Shore. It’s a resort course, but the old-school kind, with a grand old clubhouse/hotel in the tradition of Pinehurst or Greenbrier. It is utterly not an appendage to a housing development.

The golf course, like Lancaster Country Club, was designed by William Flynn.

Seaview Golf Club is rougher around the edges than L.C.C., and sandier, and shorter (around 6,155 at par 71 for the tournament). It lacks the sweeping elevation changes that categorize the Flynn masterpiece that will host the Women’s Open in five weeks.

But the look and feel, the subtle complexity of the greens, the essential style of golf it requires, are all similar. Unlike Lancaster, Seaview’s “resistance to scoring,” – to employ a golf-geek term – is entirely dependent on wind.

Four under par was good for a three-shot win for Juli Inkster at the inaugural ShopRite, in 1986. The winner has shot 15 under or better (for 54 holes) seven times.

“The first couple of times I played here, I honestly hated it,” Stacy Lewis admitted Wednesday. “I was like, this golf course is terrible.”

It grew on her. Lewis has won two of three last three ShopRites, shooting 16 under (for 54 holes) to win it last year, and 12 under in 2013.

“Once you take a chance to really get to know it and really kind of learn the little bounces and learn, you know, where to hit it for certain pins, that’s the huge advantage,” Lewis said.

“So you look at players that  veterans that are really smart players.  I mean Karrie (Webb) has won here multiple times for that reason alone.

Veterans and ball-strikers seem to thrive here. Annika Sorenstam shot 17 under here twice.  Betsy King and Inkster are also multiple winners.

The tour was off last week. The Ladies’ PGA Championship is coming in a couple weeks, and the U.S. Open three weeks after that. This feels like the beginning of a serious, season-defining stretch.

“This period from about June through August, is when all the big events are,” Inbee Park, the world’s second-ranked player, said Thursday. “The summer is when everybody wants to be playing well.”

“This is the time,” Lewis said. “I took some time off last week and didn’t play as much golf as I normally do just because of the business of this stretch and to really get ready for these next few weeks.”