Oakmont, Pa. – Paula Creamer learned plenty about being patient in the months following her reconstructive thumb surgery earlier this year.
Even when the cast was removed, doctors cautioned the 23-year-old from Pleasanton, Calif., to ease back into practice sessions. Despite being itchy to get back into the competitive arena, Creamer realized any hasty moves could result in further damage.
That mental resolve could be paying off this week at golf’s ultimate test of patience: the U.S. Women’s Open.
Not only has Creamer had to wage a competitive battle with the beast known as Oakmont Country Club, but she was on the wrong side of Friday’s weather delay. That meant coming back out Saturday morning for a 7:30 a.m. EDT restart.
Creamer, however, didn’t seem bothered by the wait. Getting slightly softer conditions from the 2 inches of rain that pelted the course, Creamer shot a 1-under-par 70 to share the 36-hole lead at even-par 142 with Japan’s Sakura Yokomine.
That duo is one shot ahead of two-time major winner and world No. 1 Cristie Kerr and Brittany Lang, both of whom finished their second rounds Friday morning.
Sophie Gustafson, Christina Kim and Suzann Pettersen sit two strokes back at 144.
The cut (low 60 and ties, plus anyone within 10 shots of the lead) came at 10-over 152 with 68 players – 62 pros and six amateurs – surviving to play the final 36 holes. Among those missing the cut were past major champions Se Ri Pak, Anna Nordqvist, Catriona Matthew and Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, who was the runner-up in the 1992 Women’s Open held at Oakmont.
Also headed home early was Michelle Wie, who followed a first-round 82 with a 76.
Eight-time LPGA Tour winner Creamer, meanwhile, is still seeking a first major title. She’s been close at the Women’s Open the past two years, twice finishing tied for sixth, thanks to one poor weekend round each time.
I think that I have learned a lot these last couple of months just about myself and what I want, said Creamer, a member of the victorious 2004 USA Curtis Cup Team and twice a U.S. Women’s Amateur semifinalist (2003 and ’04). It shows. I was able to finish strong today.
Creamer’s round included birdies at six, seven and nine, followed by a double-bogey 6 at 10 and another bogey at the par-5 12th. She recovered with a birdie at 13 and another at the short par-4 17th.
I just fought through it, said Creamer of her mental fortitude in overcoming the two second-nine mistakes. To me, that’s something that my maturity has showed to myself.
Yokomine, 24, was the leading money winner on the Japan Golf Tour in 2009. That earned her an exemption into the Women’s Open as well as spots in the Kraft Nabisco Championship and LPGA Championship. Between the LPGA Championship and Women’s Open, she spent time in Chicago practicing and relaxing.
Friday’s delay probably came at the right time for Yokomine, who opened with consecutive bogeys and was on No. 13 when the horns blew. When she came out on Saturday, she played the final 14 holes in two under (birdies at Nos. 14 and 4) to post a second consecutive even-par 71.
What I did at each hole was try my best, said Yokomine through a translator. I’m very happy about [my round].
David Shefter is a USGA communications staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.