GALLOWAY, N.J.—Conditions at the Bay Course at Seaview Resort tend to vary year to year during the ShopRite LPGA Classic, often depending on conditions and whether or not the wind blows.
The course has played firm and fast this week. The wind picked up beginning in the afternoon Saturday, and it was difficult to hold the greens on shots that played down wind, even with wedges.
The complex greens are the course's main defense, as players often need to land the ball on the right tier of these Donald Ross greens to avoid the ball rolling to a long putt or even off the green. The greens are also playing much faster than they look, with players putting defensively from above the hole.
The conditions are made a bit easier, however, by the length of the golf course—Seaview is set up at just 6,190 yards this week. Even with the event returning to 54 holes this year after expanding to 72 holes last year, there should be plenty of birdies down the stretch.
World No. 2 Jin Young Ko took it deep Saturday with a 6-under 65 to take the second round lead. Even if she does hold the lead overnight, she isn’t planning to take her foot off the gas.
“If I'm going into the final round like rank No. 1, I will play more aggressive. This course is a little shorter so we can get a lot of birdies,” Ko said.
The 54-hole scoring record is 17-under 196 by Annika Sorenstam and Anna Nordqvist, but scores have also been high over the years.
Nordqvist’s winning score for her first title at Seaview was nine shots higher than when she successfully defended her title in 2016. The highest score for a champion is 4-under 209 by Karrie Webb in 2013—just four players finished at even par or better that week.
Stacy Lewis clearly enjoys Seaview, as she is a two-time winner at this event. Currently sitting at 6 under, five shots behind Ko’s lead, the course has sparked some of Lewis’ creativity.
“It's not one golf shot. You have to go kind of create shots in your brain and kind of see them, and if you get in the rough this week, you have to lean it towards the green,” Lewis said.
“There is no other shot. So I think if anything, it's probably playing a little tougher this year than in years past just because it is so firm. There is a couple greens that are a little bit unpredictable.”
The unpredictability is a welcome change in an era where golf is beginning to feel more like darts, with players taking aim at more flagsticks and making birdie after birdie. Links-style golf forces players to really think about the shots they play.
“Every now and then it's nice to see the ball bounce and not just hitting and stopping, showing off some creativity in some different shots from the girls,” Lewis said.
No matter what shot she has to play, Su Oh—who is currently T3 at 7-under—knows that she has to go low to have a chance on Sunday.
“Try and make a lot of birdies out there," Oh said. "There is a lot of birdies out there, so you just have to pick them up on the way. Probably if I don't drop a shot I feel like I've got a pretty good chance maybe."