GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Cristie Kerr likes playing in the wind on courses that resemble the links layouts overseas, as evidenced by five top-10 finishes at the Women’s British Open in the last six years.
So when others were struggling in the wind Friday during the first round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic, Kerr appeared to be thriving at the Bay Course of Seaview Resort.
“It kind of plays like a British Open a little bit out there,” said Kerr, whose opening 69 left her three behind first-round leader Jiyai Shin. “Having to judge the bounce, this is links golf. I love links golf and we tend to judge those kinds of conditions really well. So you could see that today.”
Kerr, who at No. 4 is the top-ranked American in the world rankings, enjoyed her round much more on her last 10 holes. She was 2-over going into her ninth hole, which is the par-5 18th, and turned her day around with a birdie there.
Three more birdies followed on her second nine, including No. 9, where she almost holed out her second shot for a double eagle and then two-putted.
“I knew I just had to hang in there … there would be some birdie opportunities,” she said. “And I had to play well to get them on the front. That’s how well I played. This course is playing much harder than it has in years past.”
Wie’s strong finish
Michelle Wie found herself confounded by the wind for most of the day, experiencing problems that led to a run of five consecutive bogeys in the middle of her round.
But the 21-year-old Stanford student righted the ship to come home with two birdies, and her 72 kept her in the hunt for the weekend.
“Where I struggled the most was that I got unlucky with the wind,” she said. “On 9 and 10, it changed on me. It’s not fun when it changes and it blows pretty strong. But I felt pretty patient out there today. Hopefully tomorrow and on Sunday I can judge the wind a lot better.”
Wie’s bogey streak came on holes seven through 11. She admitted with a smile, “I wanted to get off that train really quickly.”
But even though dealing with the wind, she said, “was kind of confusing,” she hit enough good shots to leave her in a positive frame of mind for the next 36 holes.
“I have to keep that in mind,” she said.
Coe’s disappointing debut
After the first round of her career as a golf professional, Joanna Coe hugged her father and her mother, waved to about two dozen people in her cheering section, smiled weakly and said, “Hi everyone. Sorry.”
Coe, 21, of Mays Landing, started the day with a triple bogey and couldn’t bounce back, and shot an 86 that was the highest score of the 150 players in the field. Playing in the last threesome of the day, she finished at 7:53 p.m., about 5 hours and 40 minutes after she began.
“I let it get to me a little bit,” she said. “I thought I had everything together and it just got to me. And it was a long day so I kept having to think about it. But I know it’s on me and I have to completely forget about it.”
Coe got a bit unlucky on her first hole, the par-4 10th at Seaview. After she hit a wayward drive and an approach that missed the green, Coe pitched her third shot off a volunteer’s folding chair which ricocheted into the rough and added to her problems on the hole.
With all her troubles, Coe did manage to eagle the par-5 third hole and birdie No. 8. But the card also read six pars, six bogeys, two doubles, the triple at 10 and a 9 at the par-4 first.
Not in Scotland
Catriona Matthew comes from Scotland, where players of all ages and abilities literally fly around the course and have no sympathy for those who play slowly.
So when asked about the slow play of Friday’s first round, where players took 5 ½ hours and more to finish, she was blunt.
“Yeah, it was pathetic, the pace of play,” she said after her round of 68 put her alone in third place. “I don’t know if it was just too many people in the field to get around. I don’t know what we can do about that.”
Tee times, anyone?
If you’re an early bird, you’d want to get to the course at 7:34 a.m. Saturday and see the featured grouping of world No. 1 Yani Tseng, Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak and defending champion Ai Miyazato, all of whom shot 73 Friday.
The lead threesome of Jiyai Shin, Sandra Gal and Matthew is off at 9:02 a.m. The final three of the afternoon, at 2:01 p.m., consists of Kerr, Lindsay Wright and Mika Miyazato.
Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or firstname.lastname@example.org