Seaview no longer LPGA pushover

Down the years The Bay Course at Seaview Resort has taken a hammering at the hands of the LPGA Tour players.

Down the years The Bay Course at Seaview Resort has taken a hammering at the hands of the LPGA Tour players.

It has given up flocks of birdies with the winner of the long-established Shoprite LPGA Classic generally conceding winning scores in the vicinity of 16 or 17-under.

The course record stands at 9-under 62 – but don’t expect scores of anything like that in this week’s Shoprite Classic which tees off on Friday – not after all the changes that have been made to this Reeds Bay lay-out in Atlantic City.

Faster greens, tougher bunkers, rough that now includes some thick, lush fescue grass and some tighter landing areas have seen to that.

It should be a much stiffer test than it has been for the 96 of the top 100 players in the Rolex Rankings who will be teeing off on its 6,155-yard track in this storied, 54-hole event dating back to 1914.

“It’s going to play harder. That’s a good thing. This golf course needs to play harder,” said Paula Creamer, the reigning US. Open champion.

“It shows that not necessarily adding tons of length everywhere makes the golf course harder. Bringing the fairways in and changing the style of it is actually going to be a good thing. Length isn’t everything.”

The players were certain of one thing after Thursday’s pro-am – the newly added areas of fescue grass were going to place a premium on accuracy, particularly off the tee. And if the wind is gusting like it has been over the past few days, it will make judging shots that much more difficult.

“I think it’s tougher than last year, because the grass is thicker than last year, and that might affect the winning score,” said defending champion Ai Miyazato, who closed with a 64 to finish at 16-under-par when triumphing last year.

“But I love this golf course. I’ve always enjoyed it so much. It’s because it doesn’t just favor the long hitters. This is a course that favors both the long nd short hitters, and course management comes into play a lot.”

With the sun beating down on the putting surfaces, and the wind drying them out, subtle breaks become that much more difficult to negotiate and the placement of approach shots is thus that much more important.

“The fairway is the only way you can get your spin on the ball. Out of the rough, you’re going to have no chance,” Creamer noted.

“There are so many undulations that if you hit the wrong one, you’re going to have an impossible up-and-down. But if the wind keeps up, without a doubt, patience is going to be huge. You’re not going to be making as many birdies as you have in the past.”

“The greens are pretty good. The greens are much faster, too. The course is really in great shape,” noted Yani Tseng, the No. 1 player in the world.

One of the most noticeable changes to the course was the added length on the par-4 second hole, which was already a tough two-shot test heading toward the water.

“On the second, it’s like a 420 yard, par-4, and 4-iron for a second shot, so that’s fine for me,” said Tseng. “It just plays longer.”

Michelle Wie, meanwhile, will be making only her second appearance in the Shoprite event, her first having taken place eight years ago when she was here as a 13-year-old on a sponsor’s exemption.

“The wind condition makes it pretty tough,” Wie said. “The greens aren’t as soft as I want them to be, they’re pretty firm, so I think it’s going to be pretty challenging.”