ShopRite LPGA Classic: 5 things to know from the Jersey Shore

Given the strict restrictions in place in New Jersey and canceled pro-am rounds (yes, rounds), there was reason to be concerned that (...)

ShopRite LPGA Classic: 5 things to know from the Jersey Shore

Given the strict restrictions in place in New Jersey and canceled pro-am rounds (yes, rounds), there was reason to be concerned that this year’s ShopRite LPGA Classic might not happen.

To the delight of fans and players alike, the longstanding LPGA event at the Bay Course at Seaview Golf Club has become a fall classic in 2020, an ideal run-up to next week’s major at Aronimink Golf Club outside of Philadelphia.

But first, the skinny on this week.

This marks the 32nd playing of the ShopRite LPGA Classic on the Jersey Shore and the winner’s list reads like a who’s who in women’s golf.

The best of the best win here

Juli Inkster won the first showing back in 1986. Inkster ultimately won it twice, and Betsy King won it three times, as did Annika Sorenstam.

Cristie Kerr signs autographs for fans at the LPGA ShopRite Classic at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway Township, New Jersey.

Add in Nancy Lopez, Dottie Pepper, Se Ri Pak along with current players and major champions Stacy Lewis (2012, 2014), Brittany Lincicome (2011), Anna Nordqvist (2015, 2016), Cristie Kerr (2004) and Angela Stanford (2003) and all bets should point toward a marquee winner this week.

“It’s a thinking person’s golf course,” said Cristie Kerr. “You know, it’s a great short game and wedge playing golf course, so I think that’s why you see a lot of the great players that have won here have had very good careers. That’s where you make your money in golf, is chipping putting.”

Atlantic City can be seen in the background as Stacy Lewis walks along the 15th hole during the second round of the 2012 LPGA ShopRite Classic in Galloway Township, New Jersey.

New month, different course

The tournament has been held at Seaview since 1998 (in addition to the first two years of the event). Typically held in June, this year’s October dates will present a new challenge on an old-school track.

Stacy Lewis, who made a double-bogey every day in 2014 and still won by six, noted that the greens are actually better now than they are in the summer. It’s not playing as hard and fast as usual, which means length might be more of an advantage. The intricacies of the greens and the subtle breaks, however, remain the same.

“If you get on the wrong side of the hole putts can be really fast,” said Lewis. “This week especially it’s going to be dealing with spin and how much the ball is not releasing and controlling wedges.

“And the fescue is down, too, so who knows what that year is going to bring.”

Past champion Annie Park, who grew up 80 miles from the Seaview, described the wind on Wednesday as monstrous, telling Megan Khang it felt like they were back in Scotland.

“I love fall in New York and New Jersey,” said Park. “I love sweater weather.”

There’s an extra round

For the first time since 1990, and only the second time in event history, the ShopRite will be a 72-hole hole competition. Christa Johnson won 30 years ago at Greate Bay Country Club, finishing 5 under for the event.

The ShopRite typically hosts pro-ams on Wednesday and Thursday but due to COVID-19, both were canceled. Players have gotten used to not having fans at tournaments, but the lack of pro-ams and early-week bustle takes getting used to as well.

The mentality of needing to floor the gas pedal changes a bit too at a 72-hole event. Lincicome welcomes the change.

“If I’m going to win an LPGA event,” said Lincicome, “I always want it to be a four-day event against the top players in the world, hardest fields, just so when you win it’s kind of justified. You played four rounds against the best players.”

ShopRite LPGA Classic

Players walk up the fairway on the sixth hole and past the skyline of Atlantic City during the second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer on the Bay Course at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club in Galloway, New Jersey. Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

One group, five wins

One of Thursday afternoon’s must-see groups goes off at 1:06 p.m. ET, just in time for Golf Channel’s three-hour broadcast (1-4 p.m. ET).

Past champions Stacy Lewis, Anna Nordqvist and Lexi Thompson, who have five titles at ShopRite between them, will try to feed off each other’s good vibes during the first two rounds.

“What’ll be interesting is that you’ll see three different ways probably of playing the golf course,” said Lewis. “You’ll have Lexi who will bomb it; Anna and I are probably going to hit it pretty straight and hit it good.

So it’ll be three different ways you can win, and be fun playing with people that are obviously comfortable on the golf course. Hopefully see a lot of the putts go in.”

Hinako Shibuno lines up a putt during the 2019 AIG Women’s British Open near Milton Keynes, England. Photo: Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Special invitations

Four players received sponsor invites into this week’s field: Natalie Gulbis, Hinako Shibuno, Brynn Walker and Megha Ganne.

Walker, a senior at North Carolina, has competed in ShopRite’s Monday qualifier six times dating back to her senior year at Radnor High School outside of Philadelphia, advancing twice.

Ganne, the reigning New Jersey Junior Girls champion, competed in the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open, the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship and the 2019 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National.

While Gulbis has been a staple at Seaview for two decades, Shibuno is new to American golf. The 2019 AIG Women’s British Open champion turned down LPGA membership last season but now hopes to play her way onto the tour. Shibuno had hoped to participate in LPGA Q-School this season, but it was canceled due to the pandemic. She plans to try next year if she doesn’t play her way onto the tour before that.

“When I played with So Yeon Ryu and Nasa Hataoka at Japan Women’s Open Championship last October, I realized that they were on totally different levels with me,” she said with the help of an interpreter. “That incident made me want to go to the U.S. and compete in more high-level tournaments.”

Source : Golf Week More   

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Scottie Scheffler COVID-19-free, searching for first win at Sanderson Farms Championship

JACKSON, Miss. – Watching the U.S. Open on television gave Scottie Scheffler, well, a sick feeling. The reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the (...)

Scottie Scheffler COVID-19-free, searching for first win at Sanderson Farms Championship

JACKSON, Miss. – Watching the U.S. Open on television gave Scottie Scheffler, well, a sick feeling. The reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year withdrew from the national championship after testing positive for coronavirus on the Sunday before Bryson DeChambeau bludgeoned the field by six strokes.

“Not a break I necessarily wanted, but I felt all right, so it’s good to be back out here feeling healthy again,” Scheffler said ahead of the Sanderson Farms Championship.

With a clean bill of health, Scheffler, who was asymptomatic, is set to launch his 2020-21 PGA Tour season this week as the second highest-ranked player in the field (World No. 30, and behind only Sung-Jae Im). Scheffler was the first player on the PGA Tour to test positive after a run of six weeks without a positive case. Scheffler failed a required in-home test in Dallas before traveling to New York for the championship at Winged Foot.

“I felt all right, and only one person I knew was also infected, and so we kept our circle pretty small, and it paid off for us,” he said. “It definitely stunk sitting at home all week watching the U.S. Open, especially the way I was playing leading into it. I felt like I had a good chance of winning. It stunk, but it’s the world we live in. I felt OK, so very blessed to have felt good through all of it and came out on the other side recovered, so all good.”

Scheffler would have entered the U.S. Open as a dark-horse contender – he was being given odds of 40-to-1 – considering his run of good form. He threatened at the PGA Championship, eventually finishing tied for fourth, and followed it up with an impressive performance in the three FedEx Cup Playoff events: tied for fourth at the Northern Trust, tied for second at the BMW Championship and had the second-lowest 72-hole aggregate score at the Tour Championship. What was it like missing a major he thought he could win?

“It kind of bummed me out watching everybody on TV,” he said.

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Scheffler’s roller coaster of highs and lows also included writing his name into the record books for shooting 59 in the second round of the Northern Trust, the FedEx Cup playoff opener. All told, Scheffler posted seven top-10 finishes last season while banking more than $5 million – $2,833,448 in official earnings and a FedEx Cup bonus of $2.5 million – not too shabby for a Texas grad who missed the deadline to register for the 2018 Mackenzie Tour Q-School by 10 minutes. Scheffler’s consistency last season was rewarded with being named the Tour’s Rookie of the Year. Scheffler was quarantined at home when he was informed of the honor.

Scottie Scheffler holds up his ball and scorecard in celebration after scoring a 59 during the second round of the 2020 Northern Trust at TPC Boston on August 21, 2020 in Norton, Massachusetts. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

“If you had told me that was going to be my results going in, I would have been pleased,” he said of his rookie campaign. “I would have liked to have had a win last year, but I feel like that’s coming on the horizon, and my game feels like it’s in a good spot for sure.”

Rookie of the Year followed up being named Player of the Year the previous season on the Korn Ferry Tour. All that’s missing for Scheffler is that elusive first victory. Scheffler is competing at the Sanderson Farms Championship for the third time, and has finished T-45 and T-19 the past two years at a Country Club of Jackson course he called “a hidden gem on Tour,” and where a first-time champion has been crowned in all six playings of the tournament here.

“I feel my game is still in a good spot,” he said. “I think there’s still a few areas that are a little rusty just from having not played tournament golf in the last three weeks. A little different feeling coming into this week. I’m not as in rhythm as I usually am, but hopefully I’ll pick back up soon.”

Source : Golf Week More   

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