At the end of the 1st round of the Shop Rite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer, Stacy Lewis, who carded -4, is trailing rookies Amanda Blumenherst (USA) and Moriya Jutanugarm (Thailand). With no tournament victories or top ten finishes in 2013, Blumenhurst, languishes at 265 in the Rolex Ranking. But she played her heart out today with an eagle on the 3rd (balanced out by a bogey on the 6th) and a collection of birdies that took her to her -5 finish. Jutanugarm, who also carded a -5, bogeyed #3 but also collected enough birdies to pull past Lewis. The 2013 Rookie of the Year, who stands at 119 in the Rolex Rankings, has had a single top ten finish this season, at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February. She was cut from LPGA Lott Championship and had low ranking finishes in the other tournaments she played. Despite their surprise first round victories, with 2 days of golf remaining both players look like long shots for the Shop Rite.
As the tournament shifts to moving day, Lewis needs to take a look at the competition that’s behind her. Michelle Wie is breathing down Lewis’s neck with a -3 finish today. Despite some impressive career accomplishments, this has not been a good year for Wie. She stands at 100 in the Rolex Rankings and she has had no wins or top 10 finishes this season. She’s not playing effectively. The other pre-tournament competition seems also to be lagging. Suzann Pedersen, who had promised to give Lewis some real competition, stood at +5 at the end of the day, 9 shots behind Lewis and with q big distance to travel just to pull even. Paula Creamer, with a +3 finish, is also fading as a threat to Lewis.
Lewis, tees off Saturday at 12:59pm, playing again with Petersen and Creamer. I’m reminded of a tournament day when I unexpectedly found myself close to the top about midway through the round. I was playing in a foursome with one of my favorite old timers. I’d missed an easy putt and as we walked off the green she grabbed my arm, shook it, and said, “bear down.” I was playing well above my usual game and told her I was bearing down. She shook my arm again and commanded, “Bear down harder.” If Lewis wants to claim this tournament a 2nd year in a row, she’s going to have to bear down harder!