Paula Creamer could be forgiven if her focus wasn’t totally on golf heading into the season’s finish.
She has wedding plans to finalize with her marriage rapidly approaching next month, but she has something else pressing for her attention now, too.
Creamer has winning the Lorena Ochoa Invitational on her radar.
With a 7-under-par 65 Friday, the low round of the day, Creamer moved a shot off the lead in Mexico City.
Christina Kim shot 69 to protect her first-round lead while getting to 10-under 134. Creamer leads a star-studded cast chasing Kim. Tied for third just three shots back are Suzann Pettersen (66), Lydia Ko (69), Azahara Munoz (71) and Pornanong Phatlum (68).
Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park (70) looms six shots back.
Creamer is a 10-time LPGA winner seeking her second title this year. She won the HSBC Champions in Singapore in March, beating Munoz in a playoff with a dramatic 75-foot eagle putt on the second extra hole.
Back late last year, Creamer announced her engagement to Derek Heath, an Air Force pilot who had recently moved into active reserve status. The couple met through their parents. Paula’s father and Derek’s father flew together in the Navy and both became commercial airline pilots. They remain close friends. Paula and Derek met last year at the Kia Classic.
Back in July, Creamer said her engagement announcement was bringing all kinds of speculation about how intensely she would continue to pursue the game.
“I'm getting married, and now people are like, `How much longer are you playing? I'm like, `What? I'm only 27.’ But I truly have such a passion for this game,” Creamer said at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, shortly before she turned 28. “I want to be in control of the day that I do step away from it. I don't have a time line ... But I do want to have a family, and I do want to have kids, and it's hard to try to be the No. 1 player in the world and to balance out that other personal side. But when that time comes, we'll have to figure it out.”
Kim, 30, is seeking her third LPGA title, her first since 2005. She rode a hot putter Friday staying out front of all her challengers. She will be paired with Creamer in the third round.
“I've known Paula since I was maybe 12 or 13 years old, so she and I, we go a long way back,” Kim said. “We're very good friends, and I'm a very big fan of hers, so I just have to make sure that I'm making sure to play my game and not watching hers all day.”
In a game within the game, world No. 1 Park is bidding to gain ground on Stacy Lewis in the hunt for Rolex Player of the Year Award. Lewis narrowly leads the POY standings with Park hot on her heels.
Lewis shot 70 Friday, but she sits 12 shots off the lead after struggling with illness and shooting 76 in the first round. Lewis leads Park by 12 points in the POY standings with next week’s CME Group Tour Championship the final event of the season. A victory is worth 30 points this week with second place worth 12 points and third worth nine. Points are awarded for top-10 finishes only, with a single point for finishing 10th.