By Jeff Babineau

Have putter(s), will travel …

BELMONT, Mich. – LPGA player Jasmine Suwannapura of Thailand must not mind paying the extra baggage fee when she travels to tournaments. When she takes to the road, no fewer than three putters go with her. All types, shapes and styles, too.

“I mean, we were looking for something different, and I was trying to compare between this, this, and this,” Suwannapura said Thursday after an opening 4-under 68 at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give at Blythefield Country Club. “There is mallet, and not mallet, and center-shaft. I’m like, ‘I don’t know. I’m just trying to find my mojo back.’”

On the putting green at Liberty National recently at the Cognizant Founders Cup, Amy Yang picked up Suwannapura’s “gamer” and told her friend the putter felt a little light. So Suwannapura asked one of the Odyssey putte reps who travels the tour if he could add some lead tape to it. While she waited, she picked up another putter, a mallet, hit a few putts with it, and asked if she could keep that one, too.

That one, a Toulon mallet, is still in her bag, lead tape attached to the sole of it. She made a 15-footer on her second hole Thursday and an 8-footer for birdie at the fourth and was off and running.

“It’s hard to describe,” she said, “but since the last three, four weeks I feel like I got my mojo back. I got more comfortable with my game, more confidence with my putting.”

For Roussin, time for some self-work

BELMONT, Mich. – Pauline Roussin of France is only 22, and already has a full season of golf on the LPGA under her belt. But she has struggled of late, missing four cuts in her last five starts, which dropped her to alternate status for next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the second major of the season.

More so than working on anything physical in her game, Roussin decided to work with some people on improving her mental approach to the game. Thursday at the Meijer LPGA was a nice step for Roussin, who opened with 68, tying her best round of the season.

“I’ve been working a lot on myself, to be honest, more than the actual game,” she said. “Because right now the only thing that can get really in between a good result and my game is my own mind.

“It’s just been downhill in term of results, and I would say after New York (Liberty National) … I had to, like, realize that, all right, I have fears and I’m just going to have to learn to play with them and work around them, and not let them define me as a player. It’s hard. I’m working on it. But it’s definitely a pretty cool thing to work on.”

The highlight of her round on Thursday was an eagle she made at the par-5 14th hole, which was her fifth hole of the day. It rained early on Thursday, and Roussin was cold and soaked when she pulled a hybrid out for her second shot from about 200 yards. When she hit the shot, it took off, and she had the sense it was too hot to stay on the green. But the ball hit the flagstick and caromed about 14 feet from the hole, from where she made the putt.

It was a highlight, but Roussin is content to take things slowly for a bit, and not get too caught up in results.  

“I think it’s definitely something that I need to embrace because it’s reality. It’s like accepting what’s going on,” said Roussin, who in 2020 was the top-ranked amateur in the world. “It’s not being … I call that being an ostrich and put your head in the sand and just not facing the situation.

“So it was a big step to just start working on that, and I’m still working on it. Yes, today was a little victory towards that, all that work I’ve been doing, but it’s only the start of it.”

David Leadbetter, who is friends with Roussin’s national coach, even has given her a new nickname: Positive Pauline.

Minjee Lee looks to lock in 

BELMONT, Mich. – Minjee Lee got off to a solid start on Thursday – she played in the early wave alongside Lydia Ko and and Nasa Hataoka and got off to the fast start she was looking for, teeing off on No. 10 and shooting 32 over her first nine holes. But her momentum stalled from that point, which left wanting for ore after her first-round 68. 

Even though she made seven birdies on the day, she was not pleased with her putting, needing the putter 33 times.

Lee, 27, made nearly $4 million last season, winning twice – including the U.S. Women’s Open – among her six top-10 finishes. She is off to a very slow start in 2023, though her last two starts have been second (Cognizant Founders Cup) and T-13 (Mizuho America’s Open).

“The conditions today after that little (early) rain shower, it was perfect,” Lee said. “There was not really a breath of wind and it’s very gettable today. I think the weather is going to be pretty good the next few days, so hopefully I can keep being aggressive and hole some putts. More putts.”