Crazy Times for Pressel in Wake of Major Win
'Crazy,' she said.
Normal is nowhere in sight for this 18-year-old.
The golf clubs she used to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship this month were stolen. Her grandfather, Herb Krickstein, thinks they were swiped at the airport in Palm Springs, Calif.; Pressel believes someone took them when she landed in Fort Lauderdale. She got a flat tire on the way to practice last week, and people she doesn't even know are approaching her nonstop with well-wishes.
'I can't walk 5 feet without somebody saying congratulations,' Pressel said. 'And it's so cute to know that so many people actually did watch and it's such a big deal for me.'
Yet now, Pressel is back to work this week at the Ginn Open near Orlando, meaning the period of basking in major championship glory -- and her first tour win -- is over.
'I try not to think about it that much,' Pressel said when asked if she spent much time reflecting on the major win. 'It is just another tournament, it is just one tournament -- and hopefully it is the first of many.'
Pressel left her Boca Raton home and made the drive of a few hours Saturday night to begin preparing for the Ginn, an event where she missed the cut last year. Arriving so early afforded her the chance of getting some extra practice rounds, although they haven't prevented her from another favorite pastime.
'I did go shopping a couple times,' Pressel said, revealing that her latest purchases included purses, shoes and a new BlackBerry -- which she just had to have after another budding LPGA star, Julieta Granada, showed her that she owned the same snazzy model.
'Such a copycat,' Granada said. 'But we have fun together.'
Around this time six years ago, Pressel found time to practice both her chipping and her clarinet, the instrument she played in middle school. At 12, she became the youngest to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open and -- a nod to her maturity, even then -- said she expected to finish last in that field.
Now, Pressel's a threat to win whenever she plays.
'She's a pretty mature young lady even though she's only 18,' Krickstein said. 'I see no difference in her. This is not overwhelming for her. A more introverted person, not used to the limelight, that'd be different. For good or for bad, she's been in the limelight since she was 12. So she's handled it pretty well.'
Krickstein has seen this before, on some level. His son is Aaron Krickstein, who was 16 when he first won on the ATP Tour and was ranked among the world's top 10 tennis players a year later.
'I hope that's helped her,' Herb Krickstein said. 'I learned a lot dealing with Aaron and I've tried to pass it on to her, especially the expectations that come when somebody does so well so early, like he did.'
Then again, it's not even a surprise anymore when young players fare well on the LPGA Tour.
Pressel's three top-10 finishes in four starts and the major win have her sitting atop the money list this year, with more than $430,000 in the bank. Of the top 12 money winners so far this season, only two -- Catriona Matthew, 37, and world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam, 36 -- are older than 27.
The average age of remaining 10 players in that group? A mere 22 1/2 .
'I think that the players that are out there now, they have a lot of charisma, class, style, great golf games, and they're young,' said Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez, a 48-time winner who is back on tour for a few events this year, starting with the Ginn. 'That's a great future for the LPGA Tour because they're going to be there for a long time. I think that that is great.'
Obviously, so does Pressel -- now the world's No. 4 player and the top American woman on that list, behind Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Karrie Webb, all in the Ginn field this week.
The season is a long way from over, yet Pressel is already fielding questions about the possibility of winning player of the year and other top honors. She finds it all very flattering.
'I've always had high expectations and I've always demanded a lot from myself as far as my golf game and my career,' Pressel said. 'If it changes anything, it just gives me more confidence. I still go out every week hoping to win and trying to play my best to win, and now I know I can.'
Full Coverage - Ginn Open
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.