Paula Creamer shares 3-way lead at Marathon Classic
Inbee Park lurks close behind
Paula Creamer hasn't won an LPGA Tour event in the past three years.
Yet the memories of the times she has triumphed always give her a lift when needed most.
Creamer, who won the tournament five years ago when it was known as the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, shared the lead and top-ranked Inbee Park was lurking nearby Friday after the second round of the Marathon Classic.
"You know when to step on the gas and when not to," she said. "When you get a rhythm going out here it kind of takes care of itself. Experience, in any case, takes care of the issues that you have out there. It's just being confident."
In the 2008 event, she shot a career-best 11-under 60 in the first round and followed up with a 65, then held off all challengers for a two-shot victory.
With a host of big names bunched high on the leaderboard through 36 holes of the Marathon, she knows she can't put it on cruise control. But she also feels good about her chances.
"I have so much confidence out here, and the fans have been so great over the years," said Creamer, who has won nine times on tour but not since the 2010 U.S. Women's Open. "I kind of feel like I have a little extra bonus with them in my back pocket."
Creamer shot a 3-under 68 on Friday on the heels of an opening 66 to pull even with Alison Walshe and Spain's Beatriz Recari at 8-under 134.
Recari, who picked up her second career tour win earlier this year, had the day's low round with a 65. She climbed from a tie for 19th after opening with a 69.
She had made the cut in 46 consecutive tournaments before shooting an 81 in the opening round and missing out on the weekend at the U.S. Women's Open three weeks ago at Sebonack.
Recari sounded as if she had mixed feelings about the streak ending.
"No, I didn't have any weight on my shoulders," she said. "I would have loved to continue it and it was a disappointment not to make it. But I've had some time to reflect and I'm actually pleased that it happened because it was a good lesson that I had to learn."
Walshe picking up speed
Walshe, the first-round leader after a 65, hasn't won in her four years on the LPGA Tour. But she showed some backbone by turning things around after bogeying her first hole on Friday.
"I'm always trying to win, always dreaming the dream to win a tournament," she said with a grin. "I'm really pleased with my game, so I think it can happen. I step up to the tee every week right now and I'm pretty confident. It's pretty nice to have two rounds and be in contention."
Jacqui Concolino followed a 67 with a 68 and was alone in fourth, a shot back.
The pack at 6 under included the world's top-ranked pro, Park and top-ranked amateur, Lydia Ko. They were joined by Chie Arimura.
Park is the hottest commodity in the LPGA these days, with six wins already — including the first three major championships — this year. She had won her last three starts before finishing 14th last week.
"It was a tough day. I just grinded for pars," she said after finishing off a 69 in heat and high humidity at Highland Meadows Golf Club. "The last two birdies (on the par-5 17th and 18th holes) felt like heaven."
The 25-year-old South Korean also said she felt she was pleased with her putting. In other words, the rest of the pack might want to look out.
Ko also birdied her final two holes to polish off a 67. The 16-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander, is in prime position to make a run at her second victory on the LPGA Tour. She was the youngest player ever to win a tour event last year at the age of 15 at the Canadian Women's Open, shortly after winning the U.S. Women's Amateur.
She easily made the cut in suburban Toledo, her 22nd in 22 starts against professionals.
Arimura had a 67.
Defending champion So Yeon Ryu (69), rising American star Lexi Thompson (71) and Jodi Ewart Shadoff (68) were all at 5 under.
"I'm ready to go low tomorrow," Ryu said after a session working on her putting. "There's always a little bit of pressure on my shoulders, especially if I'm the defending champion. But this is just a regular tournament. I'll just keep my focus on my ball and not think about other people."
Spoken just like someone who's won before.