That pussycat of a course known earlier in the weekend as Mesa Verde Country Club grew fangs and claws during Friday's second round of the Uniden LPGA Invitational.
The leader board, once cluttered with four co-leaders and another 16 players within three shots, became spacious and roomy. By day's end, only Laura Baugh had possession of the lead and just seven players could say they were trailing by fewer than four strokes.
A troublesome wind and damper playing conditions caused many of the problems for the field. For example, can you say, bogey?
Baugh can, and she leads the tournament after shooting a two-under-par 70 for a two-day total of 138 that puts her at six-under.
Muffin Spencer-Devlin shot a 69 and is one stroke back. Mary Beth Zimmerman, who won last week's Standard Register/Samaritan in Phoenix, is at four-under after a round of 70 while first-round co-leaders Patty Sheehan and Cathy Morse dropped to three-under for the tournament. Joining them at 141 is Los Angeles resident Barbra Mizrahie, Jan Stephenson and Hollis Stacy.
"This is the kind of golf course, that other than Bonnie Lauer, I don't think anybody has just brought it to its knees in terms of shooting the lights out over four days," Spencer-Devlin said.
Lauer, who finished with a tournament record of 11-under-par here in 1985, had a far more difficult time this year at Mesa Verde. Her second-day round of 70 wasn't enough to offset Thursday's score of 80 and she missed the cut by one stroke.
Joining her are such notables as Betsy King (154), who finished sixth on the 1985 LPGA money list, Alice Miller (151), who finished third on the same list, and Jane Blalock (151). The 144-woman field has been reduced to 70 for today's third round.
Baugh started the round on No. 10 and played her first 12 holes as if she were using a doctored ball.
She began the day at four-under, a score shared by three other players, including the always-tough Patty Sheehan. But then Baugh birdied three of her first five holes and suddenly the Uniden course record of 66 set by Nancy Lopez in 1984 was looking less imposing.
Baugh's putter was especially cooperative. She sank a 20-footer for birdie on the par-5, 510-yard No. 11 and repeated the score with a 22-foot putt on another par 5, this one the 525-yard No. 13. Her third birdie came on No. 14, a 367-yard par 4 that Baugh humbled with a driver, 9-iron and a 15-foot putt.
The gallery that followed Baugh must have wondered how in the world she has gone 13 seasons without an LPGA victory. Plumbers make more than Baugh has earned in her best year, and they don't have half the short game.
Baugh made the turn and promptly birdied No. 2, a 345-yard par 4, with a 25-foot putt. On the next hole, a 168-yard par 3, Baugh used a 5-iron and nearly holed out.
"That was fun," she said.
The rest of her round, though, wasn't nearly as amusing. She bogeyed Nos. 4 and 6 and ended the 18 holes with an unattractive bogey on No. 9 with a two-putt from five feet.
"I gave it back out there," she said. "I just couldn't stand it."
Baugh has led tournaments after two rounds. Problem is, she can't stay there.
"I've done about everything except win," she said.
On Friday, Baugh glanced at the leader board, saw her name and didn't know quite how to react to the sight of nine-under. She said her opponents probably weren't at such a loss.
"I hope they were scared stiff," she said. "Oh, they probably went, 'Oh, she won't last. She'll come on back to us. She loves us too much back here.' "
Baugh obliged them in the closing holes, but not enough to entirely relinquish the lead. And anyway, she said, "The only day that matters is Sunday."
Maybe so, but there were plenty of other players willing to own the Uniden lead after two days.
Zimmerman's two-under-par 70 was consistent, if nothing else. That comes as welcome news considering Thursday's round (another 70) when she hit just three greens in regulation as opposed to the 13 she hit on Friday.
Ritzman, who began the day at even-par, also shot a 70. She worked her way to four-under before faltering on the final nine holes.
The same goes for Stephenson, who couldn't get to the driving range fast enough after her even-par round of 72. At one point Friday, Stephenson was just one stroke behind Baugh with four holes to play. But then she bogeyed the par-4 No. 6 and the difficult par-4 No. 9. And Cathy Kratzert also made a brief run at Baugh before settling at two-under.
One of the few players ignoring the leader board was Spencer-Devlin, who went her merry way Friday and finished the early rounds exactly where she feels most comfortable: behind the leader.
"That's my favorite place to be," she said.
Last year, Spencer-Devlin overcame a six-stroke deficit at the MasterCard International Pro-Am to win her first LPGA tournament. Predictably, she didn't seem too terrified of Baugh's one-stroke lead with two rounds remaining.
"I'm here to have fun," she said. "Girls just want to have fun."
Spencer-Devlin, who uses a combination of her father's and stepfather's last names, is an expert at having a jolly time. Before joining the LPGA in 1979, she lived in New York where she attempted a career as an actress and model. That didn't work too well, so she became a photographer's representative and also a manager for a singer.
"It was very interesting," Spencer-Devlin said. "She sang turn-of-the-century English music hall songs. There are not a whole lot of places where you can sell somebody whose repertoire is only (in English accent), 'Oh, what a beauty.' "
The singer's name was Frolic Taylor and Spencer-Devlin said she last heard her former client was living in Southern California. How did Taylor react when Spencer-Devlin left New York for the LPGA.
"I think Frolic was really happy," she said.
Spencer-Devlin is pleased with the decision, too. Last year, she earned more than $100,000 for the first time since joining the tour. She already has a second-place finish at the Elizabeth Arden in Miami this season.
On Friday, she slowly worked her way into contention with a round that included three birdies and no bogeys. Her most adventuresome hole came on No. 16, a 167-yard par 3. Spencer-Devlin hit a 5-iron right of the green, bladed a chip shot 20 feet past the pin and then saved par with an extraordinary putt.
Today's Tee Offs
At Mesa Verde Country Club
First Tee 8:40 a.m. Chris Johnson, Dale Eggeling
8:50 Jackie Bertsch, Martha Nause
9:00 Kristi Arrington, Lori West, Deedee Lasker
9:10 Shirley Furlong, Nancy Ledbetter, Deborah McHaffie
9:20 Sherri Turner, Caroline Gowan, Barb Bunkowsky
9:30 Laurie Rinker, Judy Ellis-Sams, Jody Rosenthal
9:40 Barb Thomas, Marlene Hagge, Ayako Okamoto
9:50 JoAnne Carner, Silvia Bertolaccini, Amy Alcott
10:00 Cathy Johnston, Pat Meyers, Mindy Moore
10:10 Heather Farr, Heather Drew, Janet Coles
10:20 Patti Rizzo, Marlene Floyd, Beverly Klass
10:30 Lisa Young, Colleen Walker, Judy Dickinson
10:40 Juli Inkster, Kathy Whitworth, Shelley Hamlin
10:50 Cindy Figg, Ming Yen Wu, Jane Crafter
11:00 Penny Pulz, Robin Walton, Sally Little
11:10 LeAnn Cassaday, Allison Finney, Beth Solomon
11:20 Nancy White-Brewer, Marci Bozarth, Debbie Massey
11:30 Amy Benz, Janet Anderson, Atsuko Hikage
11:40 Cindy Rarick, Beth Daniel, Val Skinner
11:50 Penny Hammel, Cathy Kratzert, Becky Pearson
Noon Alice Ritzman, Pat Bradley, Kathy Baker
12:10 Cathy Morse, Patty Sheehan, Donna Caponi
12:20 Barbra Mizrahie, Jan Stephenson, Hollis Stacy
12:30 Laura Baugh, Muffin Spencer-Devlin, Mary Beth Zimmerman