The moderator of Meredith Duncan's post-round press conference Thursday introduced the 32-year-old golfer as the subject of an up-and-down year.
It was a generous assessment. Duncan entered the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic with seven missed cuts and a disqualification in eight tournaments this year. Her season earnings: $0.
Up and down?
"Mostly down," Duncan said, laughing.
But her fortune changed Thursday. On a damp and breezy morning, the ninth-year pro with a bum back emerged as the surprise story on a day filled with them. Duncan's 40-foot putt on the par-5 seventh highlighted a run of four birdies in eight holes, and she finished the day in a six-way tie for second with a 5-under 66 -- two shots behind Swedish leader Pernilla Lindberg.
Duncan hopes the round will provide a needed burst of confidence. Though Duncan has $270,490 in career earnings, the Shreveport, La., native has made just two cuts since 2009 and continues to struggle with back trouble. She's undergone three epidurals this season for a series of disc and nerve issues.
"When you have an injury, you're not confident in what you're doing," said Duncan, a 2003 graduate of LSU. "So, yeah, the [back] has been a factor, but it's definitely not the cause of bad golf."
On Thursday, Duncan said she felt "OK" and her game reflected as much. It also meant that eyes were on her -- not vice versa.
Duncan was previously best known for the dozens of people-watching videos she regularly posts on YouTube.
"I just like to people watch," Duncan said of her videos, which document everything from hack golfers to a man in tube socks and zany short, shorts at a Las Vegas airport. "Who doesn't like to people watch? ... You can see all kinds of things on the road, and I try to eat at the local restaurants."
STAR TRIP: The first time Toledo native Stacy Lewis played at the Farr, she was a sponsor exemption making her LPGA debut.
How much have times changed for the tour's top American?
After she shot a 3-under 68, a line of pen-wielding children positioned for Lewis' autograph behind the ropes, near the final green.
"It's always special playing here," said Lewis, the tour's runaway money leader with more than $1.2 million in earnings this season. "It's my first LPGA tournament. ... I still have my same fans, my family out here. But a few more people are starting to know me. It's nice to see."
Blue-clad family and friends in "Lew Crew" shirts followed her every move, as Lewis recovered from an uneven start with two birdies over her final four holes. She begins today tied for 14th.
FIVE-RINGED FUTURE: South Korean star Na Yeon Choi spent last week in London catching her country's five-ringed fever.
Choi took in an Olympics volleyball match, watched South Korea play Norway in handball, and cheered Korean swimmer Taehwan Park to a silver medal in the 200-meter freestyle.
"I could see how much pressure they had and that makes me more excited," said Choi, who shot an opening-round 70.
More excited, because she expects to be on the same stage in four years. Golf will return to the Olympics at the 2016 Games for the first time in more than a century.
"In the LPGA, only my fans support me," Choi said. "If I play in the Olympics, all the Korean people are watching the Olympics."
Lewis says she hopes the Olympic stage in Rio de Janeiro will elevate the LPGA Tour.
"Everybody sees the guys get so much exposure," Lewis said. "For us to get that national and worldwide exposure is going to be huge for our tour. I'd love to be in Rio in four years."
CHIP SHOTS: Tournament director Judd Silverman estimated a crowd of 7,500 for Thursday's opening round. Officials expect crowds upward of 15,000 for the weekend rounds. ... The best name of the tournament: Brooke Pancake. She can play too. One of two sponsor exemptions, the former Alabama All-American shot a 68 in her tour debut. ... Ohio State junior Rachel Rohanna shot a 68 after earning her place at the Farr in a Monday qualifying event at Sylvania Country Club.
Contact David Briggs at email@example.com, or 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade