OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) — Maybe Paula Creamer discovered the secret to playing Oakmont Country Club. Don’t practice as much as usual so as not to get discouraged by the course’s renowned toughness.

Creamer had the only sub-par round of the day to tie Sakura Yokomine for the lead as the rain-delayed second round of the U.S. Women’s Open concluded Saturday.

Creamer played all but two holes of her 1-under 70 on Saturday, while Yokomine finished up her second straight 71 by playing 15 holes. Both were set to begin the third round later Saturday.

Yokomine and Creamer were one shot ahead of LPGA Championship winner Cristie middayKerr and Brittany Lang, both of whom finished their second rounds before heavy rains halted play Friday.

Christina Kim, who also finished up Friday, Sophie Gustafson and Suzann Pettersen were two shots off the lead.

While the rain made 108-year-old Oakmont softer, it didn’t make it easier. Of the nearly 100 golfers who finished up their rounds Saturday, only Creamer made it into the red numbers on the scoreboard.

“The bunkers were fine,” Creamer said. “I know they were all under water (Friday). I was in a lot of ’em and they were all pretty good.”

Creamer finished sixth in each of the last two U.S. Women’s Opens but has played in only three LPGA tournaments this year because of a stretched ligament in her left thumb. The injury is painful and often forces her to hit most or all of her practice shots off a tee to avoid the constant jarring that occurs when a golf club strikes the ground.

“I may not hit as many (practice) balls just to save my thumb,” Creamer said, referring to her preparation for the third round.

Creamer had three birdies in four holes to finish up her front nine, but immediately gave two shots back with a poor drive on the 440-yard, par 4 10th hole that led to a double bogey. She also bogeyed the 602-yard, par 5 12th but rallied with birdies on No. 13 and No. 17.

“I came back strong from that (double bogey),” Creamer said.

Yakomine hasn’t finished better than a ninth-place tie in any LPGA Tour event but qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open by being the leading money winner last year on the Japan LPGA Tour.

With Oakmont’s treacherously fast greens slowed a bit by Friday’s rain, Yakomine took advantage by dropping a 45-foot birdie putt on the par 4 14th.

“The greens were pretty good — the ball stopped,” she said.

Those at or near the top of the leaderboard weren’t scheduled to begin the third round until late afternoon, meaning they would play until darkness halted play and finish up the round Sunday morning.

Kerr, Lang and Kim were among those who will play only 12 holes or fewer Saturday, compared to 36 for some golfers who hadn’t begun their rounds when play was suspended Friday.

Molinari has 1-shot lead at Scottish Open

LUSS, Scotland (AP) — Edoardo Molinari of Italy shot an 8-under 63 Saturday to take a one stroke lead over Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland going into the final day of the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.

Molinari was at 15-under 198 after a round that included an eagle and seven birdies. Clarke had a 67.

Molinari’s younger brother, Francesco, had a 67 and was tied for third with Peter Hedblom of Sweden (69) seven shots back. John Daly was in a three-way tie for ninth at 4-under after a 69.

“We may have the rivalry of brothers out on the golf course, but we are also very close as we showed when we won the World Cup last year,” Edoardo Molinari said. “Francesco will be trying hard to win and if he could get a couple of early birdies and have a chance of winning himself that would be fantastic.”

Edoardo Molinari has yet to win a European stroke-play event, while Clarke has 12 to his name. But Clarke, who led by three strokes after the second round, has not won in two years, has slipped to 179th in the world and recently said he was considering retiring from golf.

“With a three-shot lead and shooting a 67 I could not have asked for more,” Clarke said. “Apart from my drive at the fifth hole, and trying to get too clever with a chip at the 13th, I would not have taken back one of my shots. But Edoardo had a brilliant round.”

Victory will not be the only goal for Clarke on Sunday. If he can finish in the top five ahead of Hedblom, he will earn a late qualifying spot to play in the British Open starting Thursday.

U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell struggled to make the cut with two 71s, but showed signs of getting back into form in the third round.

He picked up five birdies in 13 holes before finding water when the ball spun back off the 14th green and then dropped another shot with a wayward drive two holes later.

“I am still only 70-75 (percent) fit, and I ran out of steam a bit,” McDowell said. “But there were a lot of good swings out there.”


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