Grand lessons learned Friday at Titleholders


ORLANDO, Fla. – Some places there is just no getting comfortable.

In a dentist’s chair before the drilling begins for a root canal . . .

In the waiting room before an Internal Revenue Service tax audit . . .

Over a shot at Grand Cypress Resort when the winds are whipping malevolently . . .

The women might not have had it as tough as the Presidents Cup teams at Royal Melbourne, but Friday was still a difficult hike for LPGA pros battling the winds in the second round of the CME Group Titleholders Championship.

First-round leader Na Yeon Choi double bogeyed the first hole but at the end of this wild day still found herself right where she started, back atop the leaderboard.

That’s because there was calamity around every corner of this course with winds swirling, shifting and gusting to 24 mph. The leaderboard seemed constantly in flux.

With a 1-under-par 71, Choi positioned herself for her second LPGA title this year. At 7-under 137, she’s a shot ahead of Sandra Gal (69) and three ahead of Hee Young Park (69) and Paula Creamer (71).

Choi opened with a 10-foot birdie chance at the first hole but walked away with the aforementioned double bogey. She four putted.

“Very disappointed, but I tried to forget that one, and then I finished strong,” said Choi, the LPGA’s leading money winner a year ago. “I think I controlled my emotions good today. I was calm.”

That was quite the trick with so many players blowing putts and gaskets on these treacherous greens.

Brittany Lincicome has four putted twice in two rounds. She shot 75 Friday despite making four birdies. That, by the way, was the average score in the second round, three shots higher than in the opening round. Lincicome had two double bogeys and three bogeys. There were lots of crazy scorecards like that.

Karrie Webb opened the day tied for second but shot 80 with two double bogeys, five bogeys and a birdie.

Morgan Pressel also opened tied for second and shot 78 with three double bogeys on her card.

Defending champion Maria Hjorth tumbled off the leaderboard with a 78.

“It’s tricky,” Creamer said. “This golf course is not the easiest when it blows because of all the undulations on the greens.”

Gal, Park and Suzann Pettersen posted the day’s lowest rounds with their 69s.

“You’ve got to get in the zone and really focus on your target,” Gal said. “I think the wind kind of creates that focus because everything is a little more difficult, so you’ve got to pick smaller targets and really have to commit to your shots. There are no bailouts. You really have to go for every one of them. So, I think that’s what I did well as the round went on.”

Creamer is eager for the chance to claim her first title since winning the U.S. Women’s Open last year.

The year’s been chalk full of challenges with changes on and off the course.

Looking for more yards with her driver, Creamer is changing her swing to try to hit tee shots more on the upswing. Off the course, she said she’s been carving out more independence for herself, taking on more responsibilities she might have left to her parents or support staff in the past. She’s making more decisions.

“I’m 25, I’m growing up,” Creamer said. “I’m learning a lot, not necessarily just on the golf course, but about myself, and things happen. This isn’t a normal life for anyone, and you have to grow up very fast out here. There are things that happen to everyday people that I have to go through, too. As part of that, balancing everything is such an important factor out here, to be the best player in the world. That’s something I’ve really had to learn this last year.”

There were hard lessons for everyone Friday at Grand Cypress.