ORLANDO, Fla. – The Americans look like they’re going to go out fighting at least.
Morgan Pressel, Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer were in a logjam chasing hard after first-round leader Na Yeon Choi Thursday at the CME Group Titleholders Championship at Grand Cypress Resort.
South Korea’s Choi set the pace at 6-under-par 66 with a dozen players within three shots of the lead. Pressel’s one shot back, Kerr two back and Creamer three behind.
It has been a tough year for the American LPGA contingent, maybe its worst in the 62-year history of the tour.
Just two American LPGA members have won LPGA titles this season, the fewest since the LPGA was created in 1950. Actually, three Americans won events, but 16-year-old Lexi Thompson isn’t a tour member yet. Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lincicome are the only American LPGA members to win on tour this season.
It has been a particularly rough fall finish for the Americans. After losing the Solheim Cup for the first time since 2003, the Americans headed to the LPGA’s fall Asian swing, a virtual black hole for them. The Americans failed to win any of the four Asian events, extending their winless streak there to 40 straight. No American has won an LPGA event staged in Asia since Juli Inkster won the Samsung World Challenge in South Korea in 1997.
With the Americans back on their home soil this week for the year’s last LPGA event, there’s a chance to make a positive closing statement.
Pressel, 23, is looking to win her third LPGA title, her first in three years.
Kerr, 34, faces a last chance to extend the longest active winning streak in women’s golf with a victory in an eighth consecutive season.
Creamer, 25, is bidding for her first LPGA title since winning the U.S. Women’s Open last year.
“I just need to become comfortable again,” Pressel said. “Being around the top of the leaderboard, and giving myself chances week in and week out, that’s why I play. That’s what I’m here to do.”
Kerr has won at least once every year since 2004, but she has struggled to take home a trophy this year despite consistently getting in contention. Kerr has finished fourth or better nine times with a run of three consecutive second-place finishes.
“It has felt like a little bit of bad luck,” Kerr said. “Some of the tournaments where I came in second, I played awesome, but somebody played better. That’s the way it goes sometimes. It’s frustrating.”
Kerr looks game to make another hard run this week despite battling “shooting pains” in her stomach and lightheadedness in Thursday’s round. She believes she picked up a stomach malady while in Mexico last week. The ailment comes after a disappointing finish at the Solheim Cup, where Kerr had to withdraw before the singles matches with a wrist injury.
“Getting sick here, it’s kind of the way the year has gone,” Kerr said. “Maybe somebody will smile on me this week.”
Creamer, like Kerr, has enjoyed a run of good finishes, placing fifth or better six times this season.
“We’ve got one event left, and we’ll see what happens next year,” Pressel said. “Maybe we’ll come out firing next year.”