After Yani Tseng obliterated the field in posting a 19-under-par score and ten shot margin of victory at last year's LPGA Championship, the powers-that-be at Locust Hill Country Club must have been pondering the different ways they could make the 6,534-yard course tougher.
Mission accomplished. They found one way.
This year's version isn't any longer, but with three-and-a-half inch rough surrounding the narrow fairways here at Locust Hill, it sure feels like it.
Hitting the ball straight is the name of the game in 2012 and those players who are managing to keep their golf ball in play are reaping the rewards for their accuracy. Those that aren't—they're feeling the pain on not only their score cards but in their hands and arms as well.
After the first round of the 2012 Wegmans LPGA Championship, 16 players are under par with Spain's Beatriz Recari, Italy's Guilia Sergas, and American Ryann O'Toole, the Captain's Pick on the 2011 US Solheim Cup team, sharing the overnight lead at three-under-par.
There is a long list of marquee names within striking distance, though, including four of the top five players in the world according to the Rolex Rankings.
Just a shot back at two-under-par is 2010 US Open champion Paula Creamer, along with six other players, including former Wegmans LPGA champion Cristie Kerr—whose last LPGA Tour victory was here at Locust Hill two years ago; the No. 2 ranked player in the world, Na Yeon Choi; and the world's fourth best player, Ai Miyazato.
Another shot back at one-under-par is a group of six players, including Sandra Gal and the No. 5 ranked player in the world, Suzann Pettersen.
Stacy Lewis, winner of two of the past three LPGA Tour events and now the No. 3 player in the world, is at even-par along with eight other players, including Kraft Nabisco champion Sun Young Yoo. Both are just three shots behind the leaders.
Those golfers just a few shots over par are still right in the mix, though.
Reigning US Open champion So Yeon Ryu is at one-over-par along with Kraft Nabisco Championship runner-up I.K. Kim.
Morgan Pressel, who finished in second place here last year, is at two-over-par along with veteran Karrie Webb and two of the youngest players in the field—Lexi Thompson and Jessica Korda.
Also at two-over-par is the slumping Michelle Wie, who is arguably still the most popular American player despite her poor play in 2012. Wie hasn't survived a cut on American soil yet this year, but she seemed to take a step in the right direction today with a solid performance.
Another former LPGA champion, Anna Nordqvist, the 2009 winner when it was played at Bulle Rock Golf Course in Maryland, was also at two-over-par.
Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods, made her professional debut today with a respectable three over par 75.
As for the aforementioned defending champion, Yani Tseng, her afternoon started with some concern and it only got worse.
Tseng received treatment for tendinitis in her ailing right arm before she started her round and she never was able to get anything going, finishing with a disappointing four over par 76. Shockingly, she's in danger of missing the cut if she doesn't get her game turned around quickly on Friday.
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