GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Michelle Wie blamed it on "the beauty" of the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club.
Paula Creamer called it "a different kind of monster."
Saturday's second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic round saw the 6,155-yard, par-71 Bay Course play tougher than it ever has in the 15 previous Classics held at Seaview.
The wind howled off Reeds' Bay. The swirling gusts, as high as 20-30 mph, shook the tops of trees and left golfers struggling for what club to hit. Players saw their shots blown into high fescue. The greens made from poa annua grass got bumpy and harder as the day wore on. Some greens held approach shots. Others saw even the best shots roll off the putting surface.
Defending champion Stacy Lewis shot a 9-over-par 80, her worst round since she shot an 80 at the third round of last year's U.S. Women's Open. Most years, the ShopRite Classic is a birdie- fest. The 54-hole winning score has been 15-under-par or lower six times. Lewis won last year with a 12-under total.
"Nobody has ever seen this place like this before," said Paula Creamer, who shot a 3-over 74.
Only 18 players broke par Saturday and only one of them - I.K. Kim (70) - played in the afternoon.
Second-round leader Shanshan Feng of China (69-67) teed off at 8:32 a.m. Feng (6-under-par 136) leads by three shots over Haej Kang of South Korea and Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand.
The players who teed off Saturday afternoon played their first round Friday morning. But conditions were not as severe Friday afternoon as they were late in the day Saturday.
Holes with greens near the bay were especially tough. The second hole, a 420-yard, par-4 with a scintillating view of Atlantic City, played to a 4.667 stroke average. No. 2 yielded just five birdies, while players scrambled to make 62 bogeys and 17 double-bogeys.
"It's very frustrating, but at the same time, this course can do this to you," said Wie, who shot a 2-over 73 and is five shots out of the lead. "I think it's nice when it plays this hard. I think it's a great golf course."
The afternoon's premier threesome illustrated just how tough the course played.
Lewis, the No. 2 player in the world, played with Suzann Pettersen, the No. 3 player in the world, and the 11th-ranked Creamer. The threesome made two birdies, 10 bogeys and five double bogeys. Creamer made a triple bogey Friday.
"Jeez, Louise," Creamer said. "You don't see that. I can't even tell you the last time I had a double, let alone a triple."
Creamer and Pettersen shared smiles as they walked off the 18th green.
"We've been laughing since the second hole (of the first round)," she said. "You have to be somewhat laughing at things. That's just part of the battle - having a positive attitude and just grinding through it."
The players have talked this week of the poa annua greens being a bit bumpy. That's because that strain of grass thrives in chilly and damp temperatures. The recent heat and winds dried out the greens Saturday.
"The greens need some water, that's for sure," Creamer said. "It's just getting so firm out there, but you just have to go about it and commit to your shot and whatever happens happens after the ball leaves the club face."
Lewis also had some bad luck. She hit balls into bunkers at No. 6 and No. 17 and saw the ball plug into the sand. She double-bogeyed both holes.
Lewis declined to comment as she left the 18th green but she later tweeted a comment.
"Glad that's over," she tweeted. "Crazy windy, bumpy greens and a couple of fried eggs in the bunker all add up to a lot of shots."
Wie, who started her round on the back nine, appeared headed for the top of the leader board when she made four straight birdies on holes No. 3 through No. 6. But she finished with consecutive double bogeys when she drove in to the hazard on No. 8 and took an unplayable lie on No. 9.
"It was an up and down day," Wie said. "You just have to keep your head on straight and keep going."
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