SYLVANIA, Ohio — Laura Diaz almost chose to walk away from golf to spend more time at home with her family.
Now she's making the decision to juggle both jobs seem like a shrewd move.
"I love being a mom; it's the greatest thing in the world," she said after following a 9-under 62 with a solid 69 on Friday to maintain a three-shot lead through 36 holes at the Marathon Classic.
"It's hard for me when I have to choose. So I made a list. My family is first, and then golf comes second and we work everything out in between."
Chasing her first win since 2002, the 39-year-old Diaz was at 11-under 131, three shots ahead of South African Lee-Anne Pace and Lydia Ko, 17, of New Zealand.
She was pleased her game was sturdy enough to hang on to the lead despite being in the heat of contention for the first time in several years. "It was just a challenge because I haven't been in this position in a very long time," Diaz said. "For sure, I haven't had cameras on me in a long time."
So she took the opportunity to say hello to her kids — 8-year-old son Cooper and 4-year-old daughter Lilly.
"(The cameras) get in my face and I don't really know what to do," she said. "I said, 'Hi, kiddos. I love you.' That kind of stuff."
After a nine-birdie, no-bogey effort in the first round, Diaz showed signs of faltering. She had her first bogey of the tournament on the sixth hole to fall back into a tie with Pace and Ko, but then regained her touch after getting par on the next six holes. Starting at the 13th, she birdied four of the next six, including the par-5 closing hole.
Defending champion Beatriz Recari of Spain shot 70-68 and was tied for 14th. U.S. Open winner Michelle Wie missed the cut by seven strokes.