Mom finds her way back

Laura Diaz prepares to tee off on the 9th hole at the Canadian Open on Thursday. (Sun Media/Perry...

Laura Diaz prepares to tee off on the 9th hole at the Canadian Open on Thursday. (Sun Media/Perry Mah)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

When she returned to the golf course after giving birth to her first child, Laura Diaz struggled to rediscover her game.

Missed a lot more cuts than she was used to missing. Shot more big numbers. And, as any new parent can tell you, felt physically and mentally exhausted every waking moment.

Best time of her life.

"Being a mom has been the best thing that's ever happened to me," said Diaz, a smile on her face and a 65 on her scorecard yesterday at the CN Canadian Women's Open.

"My little guy Cooper, he's a great little guy. We've had some problems with his health throughout the last 19 months. I think that was kind of the reason for the slow start at the beginning of the year."

She's been picking up speed lately, though. She has two top 10s and a T12 in her last four events and yesterday's bogey-free assault on Royal Mayfair has her atop the leaderboard in Edmonton.

"I'm happy with how I'm playing right now," said Diaz, who has a one shot lead on Kelli Kuehne and Kyeong Bae.

Things changed when she became a mother, especially when Cooper ran into some pneumonia trouble, but he's fine now and things are getting back to normal.

"My husband is back caddying for me, he's been caddying the last six weeks, so it's just stability on the golf course," she said, adding golf doesn't consume her like it used to.

"(Cooper) has become my priority instead of my golf game. It's not the same playing golf now as it used to be, but I'm learning to make it work."

And doing a pretty good job of it judging from the last few weeks. But it's been a fairly long road back.

"I never thought about the recovery from it," said Diaz, who played until she was seven-and-a-half months pregnant.

"It's really a year-and-a-half process because it is nine months of being pregnant, and probably at your fifth month you're not playing as well as you would want to be playing typically. That's probably about where I thought that I stopped playing well.

"And then there's all a pregnancy does to your body. I didn't realize ... I knew it would stretch out my abs and everything, but I didn't realize how long it would take for me to get that strength back."

American Heather Young and a Korean contingent of Jeong Jang, Meena Lee, Shi Hyun Ahn are two strokes back at 67.

Paula Creamer, Wendy Ward and Juli Inkster are in the pack at three-under 68.

Kuehne, who appeared destined for stardom after winning back-to-back U.S. Women's Amateur titles (1995 and '96), is still looking for her second win on the LPGA - nine years after turning pro.

Asked if she could keep from getting too excited about her spot on the leaderboard, she broke out laughing.

"Have you seen my year? I'm certainly not even remotely planning on getting ahead of myself. It's a great round and a good thing for me, but it's one day."


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