GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Brittany Lang is getting used to being called a U.S. Open champion.

Those words gave her chills and almost made her cry when she first heard them.

Now, they just make her smile.

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Lang, the 2016 U. S. Open winner, will be among the 144 golfers to tee off Friday-Sunday at the $1.5 million ShopRite LPGA Classic on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.

“It’s very cool to be in an elite group,” she said Wednesday. “Not many people can say they’re major champions.”

Lang, 31, has learned that being a U.S. Open champion has its perks. She got to drop the ceremonial first puck for a hockey game between the Dallas Stars and the New York Rangers last December. Lang took the U.S. Open trophy to a New York Mets game earlier this month. She celebrated with friends back in her hometown of McKinney, Texas. Lang signed a sponsorship deal with equipment company Parsons Xtreme Golf.

“It’s been a lot of really fun stuff,” she said. “But to be honest with you the coolest thing was bringing the trophy back to my hometown where I live, sharing with my family and friends and partying with it.”

Lang joined the tour in 2006. The U.S. Open was her second career win. Her first came in 2012 at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.

She arrives at this year’s ShopRite LPGA Classic in the midst of a solid but frustrating season. Lang said she doesn’t feel any added pressure being a U.S. Open winner.

Lang has made the cut in all 10 tournaments she’s entered. She has four straight top-20 finishes but no top-10 finishes all season. He best performance was a tie for 13th at last month’s Volunteer of America Texas Shootout.

“I would love to be more consistent,” she said. “I love playing. I wish I was in the mix (to win) more. I don’t think I give myself enough chances to win. For the rest of this year on out, my goal is to play a little more aggressive to give myself a chance to win. I don’t think I’ve done a good job of that.”

Lang has had mixed success at ShopRite. She shot a final round 64 and finished tied for 6th last year. She shot an opening round 75 and missed the cut in 2015.

“I think Seaview is one of the better courses we play,” she said. “I hope to feed off last year. I think the course has character. It’s not too tricked up.”

Lang will return to New Jersey to defend her U.S. Open title. The tournament is being played at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster (Somerset County) July 13-16. But before that she is one of the golfers to follow at this week’s Classic.

She will tee off at 12:59 p.m. Friday on the 10th hole. The Bay Course is the perfect place for Lang to unveil her more aggressive approach. The course has plenty of birdie opportunities that must be taken advantage of to contend. Anna Nordqvist won last year with a score of 17-under-par 196. The Classic begins a stretch of five straight tournaments for Lang.

“Everything is coming around for me,” Lang said. “I seem to play really well in the summer. I’m hitting it so good. I’m putting it so good. Everything is right there. My game right now is really, really strong. I want to this week on the first tee Friday confident, firing on all cylinders and being aggressive.”

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Twitter @AcpressMcGarry

I've covered high school sports and variety of other events and teams - including the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Phillies - since 1993.

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