Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

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Lewis to defend ShopRite crown

Written by Bob Oliver on .

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, NJ - Stacy Lewis has a huge heart and, when prompted, a friendly smile. Oh, that smile isn’t always plastered to her face, as she’s more likely to be concentrating on her game or some such thing.

The golfer who earned the LPGA Rolex Player of the Year, Vare Trophy and Money List title for 2014 has a lot to smile about – except she’s also her own worst critic. This year has seen her win exactly zero championships.

This isn’t to say she’s been coasting, as she’s had what most mere mortals would call a stellar season. Yes, there are zero wins, but her bank account has seen more than $700,000 in earnings on the strength of seven top-10 finishes that brought her lifetime earnings over the $10,000,000 mark.

Later this month she will defend the crown she won last year at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer (May 25-31 - ticket information at www.shopritelpgaclassic.com) The event is slated for 54 holes over the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.

“It’s been a mixed season for me, in that I’ve played really well and have challenged for several titles but just haven’t won,” said the 11-time LPGA winner. “I’m doing the right things, hitting good shots, and there will be wins. And, coming back to Seaview is a plus because, well, I love it here.”

Lewis is a two-time winner at the Bay Course, having won in 2012 and 2014. She finished 16-under-par last year including a closing 67 on a course she calls tantalizing.

“The Bay Course is very special, it’s not long but it is very challenging, especially with the winds off the bay,” said Lewis. “I love this golf course. It is all golf, no houses, just a Donald Ross gem. It features tricky greens and you don’t need to be a big bomber to win here.”

Lewis is from a long line of great players who have won the Classic. Annika Sorenstam and Betsy King claimed three titles, while Juli Inkster two. Other greats who have hoisted the championship crown include Nancy Lopez, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak, Dottie Pepper, Brittany Lincicome and Cristie Kerr.

“You need to be precise, but you also need to have a number of shots in the bag because the challenges are great,” added Lewis. “This is an Old School course, and it can frustrate players. There are subtile breaks on the greens. It’s demanding and the best players will challenge.”

Already committed to the event are 19 of the top 20 players off the 2015 money list and 94 of the top-100.

“The players love to come here, there’s so much to do outside golf. Many of us have stayed with the same families for years,” said Lewis with a smile.

Oh, she doesn’t smile as much as some, but her grace is second to none. 

CHIP SHOTS: Lewis has been ranked among the top-3 women in the world of women's professional golf for the last 18 months...Tips on reading Seaview's Bay Course greens. "They don't break the way they look, but they do break they way they feel. I'll walk the green to get that feel."...Crowd favorites Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson have committed to play. Super 17-year-old Brook Henderson was given a sponsor's exemption.

Follow Bob Oliver on Twitter: @Arbyoliver