More stifling heat. Thursday's 98-degree temps and 105-degree heat index forced the world's best women golfers to get creative. Many sported UPF sleeves to protect from the sun and cool down their arms, some carried ice packs to place on their skin, and all drank gallons of water ("about one bottle per hole," said Brittany Lincicome) and made sure they got their electrolytes replenished ("I add Pedialyte to my water," said Lizette Salas). The course at times was almost spectator-free -- the crowds moved into hospitality tents to watch on TV during the steamiest hours of the afternoons -- and umbrellas were more prevalent than at a Solheim Cup in Ireland. Friday's forecast is exactly the same as yesterday's, which means the medics will be busy and players will keep working hard to keep their cool, both physically and mentally. "I just try to stay in the present and not think about the heat," said Ai Miyazato.
(Photo by Getty Images)
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A determined Cristie Kerr. The 34-year-old Kerr (above) is famous for yelling at her ball and willing her shots to go the way she wants them. On Thursday, her resolve resulted in a rare bogey-free round and a share of the lead at three under par. After waiting 15 minutes on the tee of the first hole of her 17th U.S. Women's Open (the course's par-5 10th), Kerr hooked her second shot into the water and made a decision. "I said to myself, no, I'm not letting it go this way today. I just found that fire in my belly and made an unbelievable par getting up and down from 135 yards, making a 15-, 20-foot putt. That proved to myself I was there. In a way, it was good that it happened." Kerr has five top fives in the U.S. Women's Open, including a win in 2007.
More slow play. The average round Thursday took close to five and a half hours, and don't look for things to change in round two. The LPGA Tour drew headlines last month for slapping Morgan Pressel with a loss-of-hole penalty in her semi-final of the Sybase Match Play Championship, but the USGA didn't hand out any penalties Thursday. As Hall-of-Famer and ESPN/Golf Channel analyst Judy Rankin pointed out Wednesday, there's no fast way to get 156 players around a near-7,000-yard layout during a national championship -- especially not in heat-wave conditions. Faster play should come over the weekend, when the field is cut to the top 60 players and ties, and the temperatures are expected to drop into the 80s.
A confident Brittany Lincicome. Bam-Bam is back. Lincicome, who finished sixth on the LPGA Tour money list last year but has had a very up-and-down season in 2012, struggling especially on the greens, needed only 25 putts Thursday en route to a 69 and a tie for the first-round lead. "I was very in control of everything today, which is a nice feeling," she said after her round. "I knew exactly where my tee shots were going. I knew exactly where my irons were going. The putts, even if I read them wrong, I still kind of got back on track, and I was making them. It was one of those days where you're like, 'That was easy.' If golf could be this easy every single day, I might make a living out of it." Lincicome, who had made a change to her putting grip earlier in the season, reverted to her old style of putting before last month's Wegman's LPGA Championship and found that it made her "a hundred times more confident" on the greens. "Putting is all confidence," she says. "You can shut it down, slice it, hook it, do whatever you want in the stroke, but as long as you're confident in doing it, you can kind of trick your mind into thinking your the best putter ever, even if you have the worst stroke on tour. But it doesn't matter, as long it gets in the hole."
Feel-good stories. Whether it's Lexi Thompson's attempt to become the youngest major winner ever; co-leader and First Tee alumnus Lizette Salas' rags-to-riches tale (she grew up playing golf at the course that employed her father as a greenkeeper in California; he paid for her lessons by doing odd jobs for the pro, she got a golf scholarship to USC and became the first member of her family to earn a college degree); or Se Ri Paks' quest to repeat at the venue that brought her fame in the 1998 U.S. Women's Open, there are plenty of heartwarming scenarios in the works in Kohler. Hopefully they will replace the local headlines of people dying and roads buckling from the heat.