Galloway Township, NJ ---
There is little doubt - make that zero doubt, that Anna Nordqvist doesn't love the Bay Course at the Seaview Golf and Tennis Resort.
She's been a dominant player at the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer, winning three years ago and successfully defending her championship. Last year she played well, but finished second.
Friday's first round of the 54-hole event was nothing new as Nordqvist sits atop the leaderboard alongside Laura Diaz and Celine Hobin after the three carded 5-under-par 66s over the windswept Bay Course.
"I feel so comfortable here, I really like Seaview," said Nordqvist. "The wind can drive you nuts, but if you are patient I find it a nice place to play."
Bucks County natives had difficult starts to the event. Neshaminy graduate Brittany Benvenuto had no luck in a 5-over-par 76 effort, while Pennsbury grad and incoming Penn State senior Jackie Rogowicz suffered through an 83. Rogowicz is the only amateur in the field.
"This is going to sound a little strange, but overall I played very well, maybe the best I've played this year," said Benvenuto, who turns 30 tomorrow. "The opening four holes were near disasters."
Benvenuto missed 3-4 foot putts on the first two holes, the first sent off line by a spike mark and the second when it careemed funnilly by the poana grass. A bad bounce on the green on her third hole forced another bogey and a slightly offline approach led to another. Four holes, four bogeys.
"I loved how I was hitting the ball but not the results," said Benvenuto. "I feel good. This is pro golf, and things happen. You have to deal with the highs and lows, the good and the bad."
Rogowicz only finished ahead of two players, but was very pleased with her effort.
"Just being here is pretty cool," said Rogowicz. "What a learning experience. It was great playing with Brittany Lang. I mean, she's a major champion. She was wonderful to watch."
Rogowicz admitted to being somewhat nervous, but that the nerves were contained. "I just didn't want to do anything wrong, it's a great experience. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
CHIP SHOTS: Rogowicz hit a wayward drive on the second hole which ultimately was deemed out of bounds --- after a 26 minute wait for a rules official...Benvenuto has no special plans for her 30th - save a longshot hope of making the 36 hole cut.