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ShopRite LPGA Classic recap: Top hog

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By Vince Robitaille

GolfWRX Staff Writer

Most often than not on the LPGA Tour – or seemingly on any tour these days, really – the acute depth of the field makes for high blood pressure levels around the 72nd green, this weekend, however, things were just a little different. How different, you ask? The-name-on-the-trophy-could-have-been-inscribed-by-the-halfway-mark different. While Yani Tseng outrageous spell of dominance consisted more of a macroscopic dominance, Stacy Lewis, now ShopRite LPGA Classic, quite simply enabled most of us to tune into the Memorial right in time to witness the grandest fist-pump since the glorious 2005 Masters charge.

The 14th edition of the tournament’s opening day was highlighted by rather inclement weather, gusts of winds and high humidity bordering on a foggy haze; at least, until Mika Miyazato and the Razorback’s respective engines got warm enough to run at full capacity. At said moment, both players engaged on somewhat of a golfing rampage that each of them to their lowest rounds of the 2012 season, a pair of 6-under 65’s. Asking one to select whose round was most impressive would be analogous to pinning his back against the wall. In one corner, Miyazato displayed, through a blemish-free performance that included five birdies, the type of surgical precision and steadiness that enabled her to cumulate twelve top-10’s – three of which coming in majors – during her first three seasons on the LPGA circuit. In the other, Lewis had every single by-stander gasping as she opened in what could aptly be described as a seesaw fashion. In fact, the four-time All-American wasted no time to get in red figures, recording a birdie on the very first hole of Stockton Seaview’s Bay Course. Celebrations, nevertheless, were short-lived as an impromptu double-bogey – that being said, was there ever such a thing as an on-point double-bogey – on the subsequent hole brought the then — World no.7 back down to earth… momentarily. Indeed, after capping off a five-shot swing that would leave Lewis back to 1-under through an eagle on third, the 2007 Dinah Shore Trophy recipient shaved five additional strokes before the sun set on Friday.

Amongst other notables on the ShopRite LPGA Classic’s inaugural day, two American high-profile players drew the proverbial spotlight on themselves, but for diametrically opposite reasons: one for her late-round prowess, the other for her continuous hardships. The former, namely Paula Creamer seemed poised for a great weekend at the turn as her 34 strokes – The Bay Course’s par-72 setup is unevenly divided between a par-37 front nine and a par-34 back nine – placed her in the leading trio. A slight mishap on the 15th hole, after a monotonous string of five consecutive pars, brought her back to 2-under and ignited the fire that has been known to burn within the Pink Panther; a fire that manifested itself in a brilliant 3-wood that, not only found the green in two on the 501-yard-long par-5, but left Creamer within 5 feet of a 64.

None other than Michelle Wie, sadly, personified the other end of the spectrum. Much like it has been the case this season, things went sourly from the very beginning, as Wie couldn’t fare any better than bogeys on the first two holes followed by a double-bogey on third. The Hawaiian would eventually turn in a disastrous card of 7-over that, in retrospect, seemed fairly scarier than her dreadful results of late. Of course, one could reasonably wonder how Wie’s most recent fallout in New Jersey differs from the previous one. The answer would come through the fact that her now signature woeful putting, is seemingly creeping into her formerly stellar ball striking abilities. Actually, if we were to be quite honest, we’d say that this week acted more as the confirmation of a contemporary tendency, than as a standalone occurrence.

Reverting back to Stacy Lewis’ bid at supremacy amongst Americans, the campaign was locked up midway through the second round; the new World No.3 kicking things off by birdieing three of the five first holes. Sitting comfortably on 9-under – a mark that would ultimately prove enough to net her the championship, as none of her adversaries would reach the double digits – seemingly wasn’t enough for the 2011 Kraft Nabisco victor, as she’d maintain the pressure in order to repeat her previous days’ feat. With a second triumph in three outings, stating that Stacy Lewis is spearheading – one would be hard-pressed not to, hereby, mention how she harpooned her bag on Sunday afternoon – the summer’s major stretch as the new favorite, starts to feel like quite the euphemism. No more chip on the shoulder for you, Ms. Lewis, you’re top dog now. Well, top hog.

Click here for more discussion in the “LPGA/ladies golf talk” forum.

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Equipment

Spotted: Phil Mickelson testing Callaway’s mini driver

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There is some serious equipment testing going on at Pinehurst’s legendary No. 2 course before the 2024 U.S. Open starts! We spotted renowned club tinkerer Phil Mickelson on the range with a new setup. He was testing out the new Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver with a new Mitsubishi Diamana BB (Blue Board) shaft.

Phil has long been a mini driver/2-wood/strong 3-wood guy, as he was the inspiration for the Callaway “Phranken Wood” about 10 years ago. For many pros, adding a strong 3-wood or mini driver allows them to turn it over easier and add a more consistent draw to their bag off the tee without losing too much distance.

Mitsubishi’s Diamana BB is the newest mid-launch shaft in the Diamana line. The “BB” on the shaft of course references the iconic Blue Board shafts from 20 years ago and this model will have a similar smooth feel.

 

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2024 U.S. Open

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GolfWRX is live this week from the third major of the season: the U.S. Open at historic Pinehurst No. 2.

Qualifier WITBs are the stars the the show so far — along with in-hand looks at what Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau are playing.

Check back throughout the week as we continue to add more galleries.  

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

See what GolfWRXers are saying about the photos from the U.S. Open in the forums. 

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Equipment

Why Wyndham Clark is playing a brand-new driver and an old putter this week

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Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of an article originally filed for PGATour.com’s Equipment Report by our Andrew Tursky. Read the full piece here. 

At the top end of the bag, Clark is set to change into Titleist’s new GT2 driver during the first week it’s being made available to PGA TOUR players. On Monday, Titleist officially unveiled its new lineup of GT drivers and fairway woods, and Clark plans to become one of the early adopters of the new technology as competition begins on Thursday at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

Interestingly, Clark was relatively late to make a permanent switch into the company’s previous TSR3 driver. Although the TSR drivers first launched in 2022, Clark was back-and-forth with the 2020 TSi3 driver and the 2022 TSR3 driver until the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2024.

On Wednesday, GolfWRX.com caught up with Clark to get his take on the new GT2 driver, and why he’s switching so quickly.

“It’s faster (than my previous TSR3),” Clark said. “I felt like I got 2-3 mph more ball speed, which is amazing. And it has really consistent spin, which is obviously huge for what we do out here.”

…On the bottom end of the bag, Clark will likely play his first event since 2023 without an Odyssey Jailbird putter in the bag.

In case you forgot, Clark and Rickie Fowler were the trendsetters who brought the 2014 Odyssey Versa Jailbird back to the forefront of the golf market in 2023. Clark then switched into the upgraded Odyssey Ai Jailbird during the week of his win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

This week, however, Clark is going back in time, switching into a PXG prototype mallet that he used in 2022.

Read the full piece at PGATour.com

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