Despite starting and finishing her second round with a pair of double bogeys, Frenchwoman Perrine Delacour carded a 3-under 69 on Friday at the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G to sit at 8-under overall and six back of the lead held by Chinese Taipei native Peiyun Chien. After making a double bogey on the par-4 1st hole, the 29-year-old rattled off three consecutive birdies on holes 2, 3 and 4 to quickly erase that early blemish. She then recorded back-to-back birdies on Nos. 9 and 10 to move to 8-under, grabbing two more on 12 and 14 to get to 10-under overall. However, Delacour double-bogeyed her final hole of the day, the par-4 18th, to drop back to 8-under and sit in a tie for seventh. While she was disappointed with the two doubles, Delacour took solace in the fact that she managed to push through the early adversity and make lemonade out of an incredibly sour start at Kenwood Country Club’s Kendale Course.

“It was a pretty good round. Definitely hurts to start with a double, finish with a double, but it’s golf. Still a lot of golf going on and I’m still on the top of the leaderboard, not too far back. Everything can happen on this course, so just going to keep building that for the weekend,” said Delacour, who didn’t play in the first edition of the Kroger Queen City Championship last year. “I don’t even know how many birdies I made all day. As a golfer, you don’t want to start with a double and finish with a double. That’s why I’m kind of a little upset at my round. But at the end of the day, it’s still under par. I’m still near the top of the leaderboard, so I still got a chance for the weekend.”

Delacour comes to Cincinnati, Ohio off a T18 finish at the Portland Classic, but it wasn’t her golf in Oregon that had people talking. After the second round at Columbia Edgewater Country Club, the Olympian was extremely candid about the mental health challenges she’s been dealing with since last season. The two-time Epson Tour winner stepped away from the LPGA Tour following the 2022 CPKC Women’s Open to work on her mental health, returning in March at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain, and was incredibly and bravely forthright with what she’s been dealing with on and off the golf course.

“I was actually talking with my caddie about it on 9, my last hole. I’m like, ‘Hopefully they don’t ask that question because I’m not in the right place mentally.’ It’s hard to say. I’m a leader on the LPGA. But golf is just golf,” said Delacour following her second-round 67 in Portland. “I’m trying to get something else other than golf. I just need to keep my head busy not thinking about golf. The problem is I grew up only playing golf. I think it’s the only way that a person could describe me, if I play bad golf I’m a bad person, and if I play good golf I’m a good person. That’s what we’ve been trying with my team. You’re a good person no matter what your round of golf. That’s mainly my goal.

“I’ve been struggling, but it is what it is. It takes time to go back from a good moment and feeling good in life. I’ve been more and more happy to talk, and I’m talking more and more to people and not being scared about it, but it’s not easy.”

A week on from making those comments, Delacour is still so proud and happy that she decided to speak up about the struggles she has been facing. Too often professional athletes hide the toll that their careers take on their mental health, but Delacour wanted to make what she’s been going through known publicly for exactly that reason, receiving plenty of support from her colleagues on the LPGA Tour for doing so.

“Definitely got some support from people. As you can see, at first I was struggling, ‘Should I say the truth or not?’ For me, it was really important because I’ve been really struggling with it, and I’m still like kind of sometimes struggling with it,” she explained. “I feel like more girls have to open up and talk about it because the more they admit it the better they are. For me, it was definitely hard to say it. It was that question. I was talking to my caddie, that’s the question they don’t want to ask me, but once you ask for it, I’m like, well, just have to tell the truth and we’ll see what people think and move forward.”

And it appears that her hard work is paying off so far. In the past, a double bogey on the first hole might have derailed the rest of Delacour’s day, and a double on the last would have wrecked her momentum for the next round. But now, even though it’s still a work in progress, she feels that things like recovering from early mistakes tell her that she’s headed in the right direction.

“We’ve been working a lot with my team about that. It’s a long process. As I was saying last week, I’m coming back out of a mental break and it’s a long process,” she said. “For me, it’s taking longer than I was expecting it to, but every week is a new experience and I learn from it. That’s what I keep in my head.”

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga