PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Lindsey Wright didn’t realize she finished with six straight 3s on her scorecard. She couldn’t name the holes where she made her seven birdies on Saturday. She only knew she played some pretty good golf in the Bahamas LPGA Classic.
Wright had a 7-under 38 on the makeshift Ocean Club course and was atop the leaderboard midway through the second round.
Severe flooding earlier in the week left so much of the golf course under water that the LPGA Tour’s only chance to finish the inaugural event was to use 12 holes over three rounds to reach the 36 holes necessary to make it official.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Wright said. “I just play. That’s probably how we should do it all the time.”
Wright was at 8-under 82, a score that won’t be found at any other golf tournament. What mattered was that it was the lowest one posted as the other half of the field was making their way around the jumbled route on a steamy day near Caribbean waters.
With everyone starting on the 10th hole, the final tee time was 4:20 p.m. EDT. It was critical to get the second round — all of 24 holes — completed to be able to finish on Sunday. Several players have U.S. Women’s Open qualifying early next week.
Wright was one-shot clear of Eun-Hee Ji, who had a 5-under 40. Cristie Kerr hit the ball better and relied on her putting for a 5-under 40 that got her back into the mix. Kerr was two shots out of the lead, while Paula Creamer (42) was another shot behind.
Because of the severe flooding — a foot of rain in about five hours Tuesday evening — two holes were reduced to par 3s. The LPGA Tour considered returning No. 4 to its usual length of a par 5, and No. 2 back to a par 4. But the bunker right of the green on the fourth was still in poor shape, and officials thought it best to let the players continue on the same setup for two rounds.
The tour was considering replacing one hole with the par-5 18th.
Wright was asked about her birdies and went blank, so she summoned her caddie for details. The round was simple enough. The Australian hit the ball close and made a bunch of putts from the 12-foot range and closer, along with a chip-in from 25 feet left of the green on the 14th. She finished her round with a birdie on the par-4 eighth along the ocean when her ball struck the flag stick.
“I thought for a moment it had gone into the bunker, but it came straight down,” she said of the tap-in birdie to close her day.
It hasn’t been the smoothest week, though the tour wanted to at least try to play with two new sponsors — Pure Silk and the Bahamas Tourism Ministry. Before heading out to her afternoon round Saturday, Catriona Matthew of Scotland said she used only six of her 14 clubs in the opening round.
“Look, the way I see it, it’s the same for everyone,” Wright said. “There’s always complaining. You just can’t have a tournament without that. I think it’s a shame, because the course on Monday, Tuesday, it was brilliant. It’s a shame we’re playing 12 holes, but I think for the Bahamas and for Pure Silk, it’s the right thing to do. We’re here to play golf. We’re not here to party. Do that early on in the week.”
Kerr is coming off a win two weeks ago in Kingsmill and hopes to keep the momentum going as the tour heads into a big part of the season. There’s three majors in the next few months, capped by a return to St. Andrews.
“It feels like a shootout,” Kerr said. “We only have 12 holes every day, and you’ve got to go as low as you can. I did my job today.”