By Jeff Babineau
Mina Harigae opened this week’s Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give with a round of 74, which put her in 118th place early Friday, potentially headed for a sixth consecutive missed cut in an LPGA stroke-play event. Harigae was 4-over-par for the tournament when she stepped to the tee at the par-3 fifth at Blythefield Country Club.
She needed something to happen to turn things around. And fast.
She and her newlywed husband, Trent Kreiter, who doubles as Harigae’s caddie, had a heart-to-heart on Thursday night. “It’s coming,” he told her. “I told her to tell herself that today (Friday) is the day.”
He apparently was on to something. She hit 9-iron to 5 feet at the fifth. Birdie. Got up and down from a bunker at the par-5 eighth. Birdie. Hit it to 6 feet at the 10th, and 4 feet at the 12th, getting back to level par. At the par-3 13th the light bulb really went on. She smashed a 5-iron from 179 yards to inside 2 feet. A nice up-and-down produced birdie at the par-5 14th. At the 16th, she she hit 9-iron to 11 feet, and made the putt up the hill.
She not only would be around for the weekend after her 67 (3-under 141), she had crept up on the leaders, too. She will enter the weekend only seven shots out of second place. Seven birdies, no bogeys in a 14-hole run can move a player up the board.
Said Kreiter, “We got out of the funk.”
“It was needed,” said Harigae, who, at 33, is coming off her best two LPGA seasons. (She was runner-up in last summer’s U.S. Women’s Open). “Golf is hard. You can be doing all the right things, and it just doesn’t happen sometimes. …
It was great, it had been a while. It finally felt like me again.”