GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Stacy Lewis didn’t even glance at the leaderboard on Saturday in the second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic. She knew better, a lesson well learned from her first LPGA victory this season.
The former University of Arkansas standout holds a commanding six-stroke lead in the ShopRite LPGA Classic at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, after tying a tournament 36-hole record with a second-round 65 to maintain the lead entering Sunday’s final round.
Lewis’ two-day total of 130 puts her six strokes ahead of Anna Nordqvist, who shot a second-round 67, and gives Lewis a seven-stroke edge over the third-place foursome of So Yoen Ryu, Azahara Munoz, Katherine Hull and Paula Creamer.
The last time Lewis led entering the final round of an LPGA event, she won the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic on April 29. The glaring difference in building a lead at the ShopRite, she said, was not sneaking a peek at the leaderboard, which she thought made her play cautiously in the Mobile Bay Classic.
“I took so much from Mobile,” said Lewis, who birdied three of the first five holes on Saturday. “I had a couple-shot lead, but then I think at the turn, I had a five-shot lead and I made the mistake of playing safe, and not really staying into my game and what I was doing. I was worrying about what other people were doing, watching the leaderboard. So today, out there, I made the turn and had a two-shot lead and kind of told myself, Let’s see how big we can get this.”
After starting strong, Lewis survived a near disaster on the par-4 sixth hole, which she double bogeyed. She opened No. 6 by driving the first shot into the brush, then battled back to three-putt the hole. Lewis responded by birdieing five of the last 10 holes.
“I probably should have hit a 3-wood off the tee,” Lewis said. “I was worried about my driver going through the fairway, so I kind of laid off the driver and hit it into the brush, chipped out and then had an ugly three-putt. But from then on, my caddie told me when you hit a bad shot, we gotta slow down, you gotta get back to what you’re doing. And I did that the rest of the way. I made a really good birdie on 9, then just followed back on the back.”
Nordqvist rebounded nicely in the second round, surging from sixth place the first day to sitting alone in second on Saturday after shooting birdies on six holes, including three consecutive birdies on holes 11, 12 and 13. Nordqvist, however, had the streak snapped with a bogey on the par-4 14th and ended by shooting par on the last four holes.
Early in the day, the greens were slow, from torrential rain the previous night. But as the day progressed, with the wind and sun, the greens became much faster.
Nordqvist noticed the difference.
“Yeah, absolutely, especially in the afternoon,” Nordvqist said. “Yesterday, it was so windy, so they dried out pretty good, and even from the practice rounds. But today, you were putting spin on the wedges and it’s tough to get them close when they were tucked in the corners, or tucked in the back corners, because you can’t really let it fly all of the way. I thought my putting was great. I made a lot of short putts, and I made, I think, two putts over 20 feet. So that was great.”
Munoz had a terrific round, shooting a 68 without a bogey. The greens, she admitted, were a little confusing and took her some time to read.
“Yeah, it was kind of confusing actually, because I guess it rained a lot overnight and the greens were pretty soft. Sometimes, I’d wait for the balls to be release and yesterday it didn’t and the balls came back way too much, but it is playing a little softer. The (second hole) I missed it pretty good on the right side, but I made a really nice up-and-down and after that, it was pretty simple.”
Yani Tseng, the world’s No. 1 player, finished in a four-way tie for seventh. She had a nice spell with birdies on four-straight holes before falling off in the latter portion of the round, stung by bogies on the par-four fourth hole and par-three seventh hole. Tseng closed with a birdie on the par-five ninth hole.
NOTES: If Lewis’ lead holds up at the ShopRite Classic, it would be her third career LPGA tournament victory. She won the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year . Lewis’ round of 65 is her sixth-straight round that she shot in the 60s . Jennifer Johnson made a stunning jump from being tied for 114 to moving into a four-way tie for 17th with a second-round best 63 . Yani Tseng has placed among the top 10 in every LPGA tournament she’s played this year . Mika Miyazato, who was tied with Stacy Lewis for first after the opening round, concluded a wild day that began with a birdie on the par-four first hole, then shooting bogies on five other holes and finishing tied for seventh with a four-under 138 over two rounds.