By SCOTT COTTOS
For The Courier
SYLVANIA — Stacy Lewis, the hometown girl, and Paula Creamer, the famous “Pink Panther,” probably rank Nos. 1 and 2 — if not 1 and 1a — in popularity among Marathon Classic fans.
And both will need not only their usual healthy doses of fan support but also a few more good swings and, of course, some luck, to move toward the top of the leaderboard after Thursday’s first round of the Marathon Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
Veteran Laura Diaz set the bar high with a first-round 62 that established a five-shot lead going into today.
Lewis, a Toledo native who is the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, carded a 1-under-par 70 Thursday on Highland Meadows’ 6,512-yard track, while Creamer, the winner of this event in 2008, ended up 1-over at 72.
Neither Lewis nor Creamer was thrilled with her play, but neither counted herself out of the title chase either.
“You know, I finished well, which is always good,” Lewis, followed by her usual crowd of family and friends wearing “Lew Crew” T-shirts, said. “I definitely didn’t have my best out there. I didn’t hit the ball very good, but I found a way to get the ball in the hole there at the end and made some birdies coming in to get under par, which is always a good score on this course.”
Lewis’ concern about potentially making a run wasn’t too great because while Highland Meadows is susceptible to low scores, those types of scores require more than a fair amount of precision.
“This golf course, it catches up to you pretty quick,” she said. “You’re not going to see (players going extremely low) probably even two days in a row. You’ve just got to stay patient out there, and hopefully you get one of those days where you go crazy, too.”
While Lewis is yet to have one of those outrageous rounds at Highland Meadows in her career, Creamer set a course record with her first-round 60 on her way to the 2008 championship.
Creamer, however, had no magic in her Thursday.
“I didn’t hit the ball the way that I wanted to and I missed some pretty good birdie chances coming down on 7 and 8, maybe 5- or 6-footers,” she said. “But, you know, the golf course is not playing what it has been. I know Laura Diaz is playing awesome and when you’re hitting the ball close out here it’s easy to make birdies.”
Creamer said taking on Highland Meadows Thursday was different than in past years, noting that only Diaz had managed to catch fire.
“It’s not as short,” she said. “It’s playing a lot longer. The ball isn’t going as far in the morning, the rough is much thicker, more penalizing than it has been in the last several years, and the scores show it.”
Still, like Lewis, Creamer didn’t consider herself to be at all out of contention.
“I only made one birdie today and that’s not quite my round of golf normally, but, you know, we’ll take it and I don’t feel like I shot myself in the foot too big,” she said.
NOTES: Bowling Green’s Caroline Powers, playing on a sponsor’s exemption for the second straight year, shot a first-round 75, putting her in a tie for 118th place. Powers, a four-time All-American at Michigan State who now plays on the LPGA’s development Symetra Tour, missed the Marathon Classic cut last year and is now in danger of another early exit. … Cristie Kerr, the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open champion, made a hole-in-one on the 170-yard sixth hole on her way to a 70 that put her in a tie for 33rd.