Big crowds at LPGA opener in Golden Ocala

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OCALA, Fla. – The LPGA’s 2015 season opened to strong galleries Wednesday at the new Coates Golf Championship at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club.

Spectators were squeezed around the first tee five and six deep when the featured pairings went off in the afternoon in the first round.

“I was in shock, actually, when I walked on that tee and saw how many people there were,” Stacy Lewis said. “It's amazing. It shows that this is the kind of town that we should be playing in. We're the biggest thing that's coming right now and this is where we should be playing.”

Lewis was off with Lydia Ko and Karrie Webb. The pairing of Michelle Wie, Inbee Park and Paula Creamer were off right behind them. Spectators were even two and three deep behind Wie on the range before her round.

Exact attendance figures were still being calculated Thursday morning. The Villages, a retirement community with more than 40 championship and executive golf courses, is 20 miles from Golden Ocala. Tournament organizers believe they’re drawing well from that community, too.