BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) — Cristie Kerr needed just one good practice swing to know her health and golf game were OK.
Kerr felt lightheaded early in the second round of the U.S. Women’s Open on Friday. After drinking plenty of liquid and eating a bit of food, she felt her swing change dramatically – and the rest of her round showed the improvement.
Kerr had a run of three straight birdies late on the front nine on the way to a 1-under 70 to take a one-stroke lead over Paula Creamer after two rounds of the Women’s Open.
“Once I started to feel better, I got the feel back, and I played great for the rest of the day,” said Kerr, who had one of only six rounds under par on the tough Saucon Valley Country Club layout.
She overcame four bogeys with five birdies and stands at 3-under 139.
The focus at the championship on Friday shifted back on golf, a marked change because the event has been overshadowed all week by a dispute between LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens and more than a dozen top tour players who signed a letter calling for her resignation.
The New York Times, citing a source, reported Friday that Bivens originally planned to fight the move to force her out, but had decided to step down after the Open concludes. Golf Digest had previously reported on Thursday that Bivens would be replaced, as soon as next week, and cited sources who said the letter from the players was the final blow.
The LPGA reiterated its statement from earlier in the week and declined to discuss internal tour business.
On the course, the players tried to figure out a way to solve the narrow fairways and speedy undulating greens at the Old Course, where birdies are tough to achieve.
A bit unsettled at the start, Kerr opened with a bogey and four pars. She began feeling better on the 13th – she started on the back nine – and hit stride on the 15th through 17th.
She rolled in putts of 9, 3 and 8 feet for her run of birdies and, after a pair of bogeys to open her back nine, made birdie putts of 15 and 12 feet on the way in to maintain the lead.
The 2007 champion let it be known earlier in the week that she has the game it takes to win a second Open.
“I kind of know what that feels like, so I kind of have a little advantage there,” she said
Creamer is hoping to negate that advantage as she chases her first Women’s Open title.
Coming off a thumb injury that forced her to miss the last two tournaments, Creamer carded a 3-under 68 after an opening 72 and was alone in second at 2-under 140.
She started the day 1-over, and moved into red numbers after back-to-back birdies at the ninth and 10th. Her round included five birdies, two bogeys and 11 pars.
Second place is Creamer’s best standing after two rounds in an Open.
The 22-year-old knows she has a long weekend ahead in pursuit of her first major win.
“I’m going to hit some good shots and not be rewarded,” she said. “I’m going to hopefully hit some good shots and be rewarded.”
Futures Tour player Jean Reynolds continued to be the surprise of the event. She is third after a 72 for a 1-under 141. A two-time winner this year on the Futures Tour – and its leading money winner – she hung tough in just her second Women’s Open.
First-round leader Na Yeon Choi of South Korea shot a 3-over 74 and was tied with Giulia Sergas of Italy at even par. Sergas had the lowest round of the day, a 4-under 67.
Alexis Thompson, a 14-year-old amateur, moved into contention after a 73 put her at 2-over and tied for eight.
Top-ranked Lorena Ochoa struggled to a round of 8-over 79 and stood at 6-over for the championship.
Thompson made the cut for the first time in three tries. Two years ago, she became the youngest player ever to qualify for the Women’s Open.