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Friday, June 20, 2014

Lightning Strikes Twice at Pinehurst

When the men played Pinehurst last week, it rained Thursday night and the USGA decided to make the course longer to offset the more receptive greens. That didn't phase Martin Kaymer... but it hit the rest of the field like a thunderbolt.

Guess what happened Thursday night? As USAToday put it:
Play was suspended at 7:12 p.m. ET as brief showers and lightning rolled through the area (30 players have to complete their round Friday morning).
However, USAToday added that "...a good drenching... will help the players." The USGA's actions last week may indicate otherwise.

And that could make things very interesting today, for everybody from leader Stacy Lewis on down.

Stacy Lewis

Thursday's round was full of surprises, perhaps none greater than Stacy Lewis's declaration that "It was such an easy day." I know, you're going to say that she clarified that statement and said that the course was hard, she just had a good day. But here are some of her comments from's first round notes:
“I’m very happy,” said Lewis. “It was such an easy day. I played really, really solid, other than I had to make a few par putts, I ran some putts by, got them above the hole. But other than that I didn’t put myself in too bad of spots and made a few birdies, which was nice.”
“I liked watching the men’s last week because I think I played a lot -- I like to hit a cut a lot like Kaymer does,” said Lewis. “So on a lot of those holes, it was cool to see the plan I had laid out in my head, he was kind of doing the same thing. So it was nice coming into the week, knowing that my plan was going to work on this golf course.” 
“I thought that somebody like the guys, somebody can run away with this,” said Lewis. “If you’re hitting the ball well enough, you can definitely run away with it. At the same time you have to know par is a good number and keep grinding away.”
Hmmm... I wonder who she thinks might "run away with it"? Add all that to her early tee time, before the heat index rose to 102 degrees, and I'm pretty sure that, if there really are any golf gods, they have officially put Stacy square in their sights!

Meanwhile, down in the "what the hell course was she playing?" depths of the leaderboard is where Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, and Lydia Ko languish. All shot between 76 and 78; all have their work cut out for them today. I don't think anybody even imagined all three would have so much trouble.

Personally, I was a bit shocked by Paula Creamer's strong finish at even par. Perhaps she's found something that's helped her putting -- or perhaps, like Michelle Wie at -2, the extreme speed of the greens helped her. (Michelle's main putting problem this year has been leaving the ball short, and the speed of the greens was why I thought her putting wouldn't be an issue this week.)

I don't know exactly how much rain Pinehurst got around the time they called play Thursday, and I don't know if they got more rain during the night. (Obviously I'm writing this late on Thursday.) But was predicting showers overnight and scattered T-storms today, and if the USGA decides the course is too soft and they need to lengthen it...

Stacy Lewis might be right. Lightning just might strike twice. But if it does, the real question is who gets hit?