PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Now this is more like it.
Now this feels like a major championship.
You could see the difference in the faces of the players as they marched into the scoring hut Friday at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
You could see the suffering and misery that wasn’t there with Yani Tseng and Cristie Kerr dismantling this golf course in runaways the last two years. They had way too much fun for a major. On Friday, you could almost see the bruises and wounds this punishing major championship test is now inflicting.
Locust Hill seemed aptly named in the second round with players looking as if they were enduring some biblical plague. Nobody would have been surprised here if the severe weather forecast for Saturday called for a 60-percent chance that it will rain frogs.
Or if the water hazards turned to blood.
By day’s end, even Tseng couldn’t summon a smile. It takes a beastly test to rob the Rolex World No. 1 of her smile.
A year after routing the field in a 10-shot runaway, Tseng barely made the cut.
“It’s disappointing,” Tseng said. “I’m very sad.”
Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak was one of the few players smiling over their scorecard. With her 1-under-par 71, she moved to the top of the leaderboard in a bid to win her 26th LPGA title, her sixth major. She will be going for her fourth LPGA Championship title this weekend.
Pak leads at just 3-under 141. She’s one of just 11 players under par with the course creating a logjam of possibilities. Eighteen players are still within three shots of the lead.
“This is the most difficult conditions we’ve ever played on this golf course,” Pak said.
It doesn’t look like anyone is going to beat down the field this year. Instead, just about everyone seems destined for some kind of beat down.
Tseng won by 10 shots a year ago. She’s down by 10 going into the weekend this year.
“It was shocking,” Stacy Lewis said of watching Tseng post 76 and 75 in the first two rounds. “That’s probably the worst I’ve seen Yani play over two days. Usually, if she has a bad day, she bounces right back and is in it again.
“She got off to a good start today. She looked more confident with her swing, and then, throughout the day, I could tell she lost some confidence. It wasn’t the usual Yani out there.”
Confidence is hard to come by at Locust Hill, but it’s easy to lose.
Just 14 players broke par on Friday. A whopping 29 players couldn’t break 80.
With the winds up more in the second round, the scoring average bumped to 76.28, up from 75.66 on Thursday.
“It’s a lot tougher than the last couple years,” said Lewis, who has won the LPGA’s last two stroke-play events and sits three off the lead now. “The rough is long. It’s longest right off the fairways. You barely miss the fairway, and you don’t have a shot.”
And they are narrow fairways.
It’s all adding up to a complete test with emotional components also being examined this week.
“My attitude is what I’ve really been working on out here,” said Paula Creamer, who is one shot back. “If I don’t have a positive vibe, or energy, out here, it’s going to be a long day.”
It’s feeling like it’s going to be a long tournament with more suffering to come this weekend.