BELLEAIR, Fla. — Frenchwoman Perrine Delacour has put herself in prime position through two rounds at Pelican Golf Club, carding rounds of 67 and 65 to sit in a tie for fourth at 8-under with 36 holes to play at The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican. She made five birdies and two bogeys on Thursday in Belleair, Fla., and followed that up with a bogey-free round on Friday, one that saw her make five birdies en route to recording her second-lowest 36-hole total on the LPGA Tour.
Starting her day on No. 10, Delacour picked up an early birdie on the par-3 12th hole, and grabbing another on the 16th to move to 5-under overall. After turning in 33, she began her final nine with four consecutive pars before breaking through again with a birdie on the par-4 5th hole. The 29-year-old then snagged two more birdies on holes 7 and 9 to post a 65 and sit four shots back of the second-round lead held by Emily Kristine Pedersen.
It's the first time since the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G that Delacour has opened with back-to-back rounds in the 60s, something she has now done a total of four times this season, and it’s her first time since the weekend at the BMW Ladies Championship that she has posted back-to-back rounds in the 60s in any capacity. It’s the first time since Delacour shot 63 on day one of the Portland Classic that the two-time Epson Tour winner has carded a round of 65 or better, and it’s her ninth bogey-free round of the 2023 LPGA Tour season.
Delacour currently sits at 54th in the Race to the CME Globe, and despite knowing how unlikely it was that she’d lose her top-60 spot that qualifies her for the CME Group Tour Championship, she still wanted to have a solid week at The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican and build some momentum ahead of just her second appearance at Tiburón Golf Club.
“The chances that I was getting bumped out of CME were pretty low, to be honest, so I liked my position better than people behind me,” said Delacour, who is currently projected to move from 54th to 48th in the standings. “But you never know in golf. It's not only yourself but other people. For sure, making the cut, it feels good. Playing CME, it's my second time, so when you look at it a year ago where I was, and right now, it's like, wow, okay, it's really good. I'm proud of myself.”
The Frenchwoman finished the 2022 season at 98th in the Race to the CME Globe point standings, 38 spots outside of qualifying for the CME Group Tour Championship and just two spots inside the top 100, barely managing to retain her status for the 2023 LPGA Tour season. She’s made the most of the opportunities this year has presented her, recording seven top-20 finishes, the best of which is a ninth-place result that came at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards.
But things haven’t always looked this stress-free and easy for Delacour.
She has struggled with her mental health in recent seasons, taking extended breaks as needed from LPGA Tour competition in order to get herself back on track mentally as she deals with the pressures of being a professional athlete. While some players might hide their off-course struggles and work through their challenges privately, Delacour has been extremely open and honest about what she’s gone through, something that has really helped her to process and learn from the struggles that have plagued her and her game the last couple of years.
“It actually helps me a lot to open up and tell people about it because I'm the kind of person that I don't like to put a mask on. In Korea, after two rounds, I was struggling a lot, and then I started to open up, talk to my caddie, talk to players about it,” said Delacour. “I was like, you're not the only one crying on the course. I was crying, and I shot 12-under on the weekend. So, I feel like the more I open up to people, the better I play. It's just the way I am. I open up, and if some people want to talk about it, I'm more than happy to help them and improve them.”
As she readies herself for a weekend in contention at The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican, Delacour will continue working to keep her mind in check as she eyes another opportunity to capture her first victory. And no matter what happens, Delacour is resolved to not be too hard on herself, especially considering how much she has grown and accomplished since this time last season, both on and off the golf course.
“As a golfer, you always want the best, and it's hard sometimes,” Delacour said. “I have a really good team around me, and they always say, you have to look where you were one year ago and where you are right now. That actually helps me. Okay, I made a big step. You always want it to go faster, but it is what it is.
“At the end of the day, it's just golf. I don't care. I was actually on vacation last week, and it was the first time everybody (has seen me) as a non-golfer. And when I started to say, oh, I'm playing golf, you could see that people were looking at me differently. Mainly, the goal for me is to see myself as not a golfer, and who cares how you're playing, at the end of the day, everybody will love you no matter what.”