France native Celin Herbin, a former biochemical engineer, vies for ShopRite LPGA title contender

LPGS Tour Golf
Celine Herbin watches tee shot on sixth hole during the second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic golf tournament on Saturday in Galloway, New Jersey.

GALLOWAY, N.J. – Celine Herbin spent her young adult years as a biochemical engineer in her native France, but her desire to become a professional golfer grew strong, and she left that profession at age 27.

And people looked at her as if she was …

“Crazy,” she said, filling in the rest of the sentence Saturday after finishing the first two days of the ShopRite LPGA Classic with back-to-back rounds of 5-under-par 66 and a 2-stroke lead.

“It was looking like a dream to be a professional golfer at 27 when I was not at all the top player in France. I had to stop one year playing when I was 24, 25. It was a slow start, but I’m very happy what I’ve done.”

Herbin, 35, took up golf at 15 ½. Coached by Vicente Ballesteros, brother of the late Masters and British Open champion Seve Ballesteros, she turned pro in 2012 at age 29 and played regularly on the Ladies European Tour through 2014. During her rookie year on the LPGA Tour in 2015, she returned to Europe and won the French Open.

She came into this tournament having made just five cuts in 11 events and finished no higher than a tie for 28th this season. But she has been unfazed by anything this week, even waiting through a three-hour weather delay on Saturday before finishing up with a birdie at 18.

“There is no secret really, just keep working on what I’m doing,” Herbin said. “I don’t care if you miss 10 cuts if you win the 11th. The missed cut doesn’t mean too much. It’s the work you do every day to keep on working on your game. You know it’s going to come, just that you have to wait.”

Creamer is back

One year after challenging for the ShopRite LPGA championship, and almost eight months after undergoing left wrist surgery, Paula Creamer is back in contention at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.

Creamer birdied her last two holes for a 66 that put her at 135 and in a four-way tie for fifth among those who completed the second round. She will enter Sunday three shots off the lead.

She recalled last year when she entered the final round tied for the lead but managed only a 74 that left her five strokes behind winner I.K. Kim.

“I put a little bit too much pressure on myself and didn’t quite perform the way I wanted to on Sunday,” she said. “I know that I need to just go out and have fun and enjoy it. I had a great time today and I want to do that again tomorrow.”

Local players

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Brittany Benvenuto tees off on the 10th hole during the second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic golf tournament, Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Galloway, N.J.

Brittany Benvenuto of Langhorne finished her tournament on a positive note, posting birdies on her last three holes in a round of 70 that left her at 146, a total that likely won’t make the cut when second-round play concludes Sunday morning.

Speaking of positive finishes, Pennsbury High graduate Jackie Rogowicz, who will enter her senior year at Penn State in the fall, birdied three of her last four holes for a 72 and finished at 155 in her first LPGA experience.

Joanna Coe of Mays Landing, now working as a teaching pro at Baltimore Country Club, fired her second straight 77 for a 154 total.