Creamer triumphant at US Womens Open

By Associated PressJuly 12, 2010, 2:15 am

2010 U.S. Women

OAKMONT, Pa. – Her left hand so badly injured she couldn’t play for four months, the future of her golfing career in doubt, Paula Creamer found relief by turning on her DVD player.

She wasn’t interested in watching a movie or a concert. Instead, she carefully studied Angel Cabrera hold off competitor after competitor to win the 2007 U.S. Open at rugged-as-it-gets Oakmont Country Club.

Creamer, an eight-time LPGA winner but never the champion of a major, calculated how to putt on Oakmont’s often-diabolical greens late in a tournament. But she also took time to imagine winning the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont, even if such a victory seemed illogical at best given the severity of her injury and the length of her recovery.

Wonder of wonders, Creamer surprised even herself with the ease of her 4-stroke victory that she completed Sunday despite a thumb that is only 60 percent healthy and a reputation for winning lesser tournaments but not a big one.

In women’s golf, this is as big as it gets.

“I believed I could do this, even when I had a cast on my hand,” Creamer said, her smile as bright as her all-pink attire. “That’s just what I kept thinking about – Oakmont, Oakmont, Oakmont. And here we are. It’s amazing how, when you put a plan together, sometimes it works out.”

But how could she possibly plan this?

Limited to 40 practice shots a day because her still-healing hyperextended left thumb swells badly, Creamer was forced to play 52 holes over the final two days – 29 on Saturday, 23 on Sunday – after Friday’s heavy rains suspended play. That was far more punishment than she expected, especially on a course so physically demanding.

“You just don’t get surgery on your thumb and win a championship,” Creamer said. “I don’t think the odds are very good after that. But I believe things happen for a reason, and I think what’s happened made me a stronger person. It’s just will. I’m in pain, but I’m going to play.”

Perhaps, too, adjusting her game to a still-healing hand forced her to focus on the basics and steered thoughts away from all the doubts that can creep into a golfer’s head, especially one who hasn’t excelled in majors.

This time, she couldn’t have played better or with more consistency. She went 72-70-70-69 to finish at 3-under 281, the only golfer below par. She began the final round off a birdie on No. 18 during the early morning completion of the third round, and her four-shot lead never dropped below two shots even as Na Yeon Choi of South Korea pushed her with a final-round 66.

Choi and Suzann Pettersen of Norway tied for second at 1-over 285. In Kyung Kim, also of South Korea, was alone in fourth place at 286.

“It shows you how much the mental side of golf can really take over,” Creamer said.

Creamer’s two biggest confidence-building shots might have been long, par-saving putts on No. 7 and 8. She effectively wrapped it up by hitting to within 10 feet out of the thick rough on the par-4 14th and dropping a 10-footer for birdie.

Only she didn’t know it; she never looked at a leader board until the 18th. She hit another exceptional mid-iron to 4 feet on the 442-yard 15th and made that, too.

Now, she doesn’t have to hear she’s the best LPGA golfer not to win a major. She won eight tournaments by age 21 but, bothered by the worsening thumb injury, she hadn’t won since 2008.

“That question always lurked, `How come you never won a major?’ said Creamer, a Pleasanton, Calif., native who is only the second American in six years to win the U.S. Women’s Open. “Now we never have to get asked that question again. It’s kind of a big relief off my shoulders.”

Most of all, a big relief off that thumb.

After years of domination by international golfers, primarily the South Koreans, Creamer and Cristie Kerr have won the last two majors. Kerr won the LPGA championship by 12 shots three weeks ago, but never developed a consistent game at Oakmont and placed 17th.

Another encouraging development for American golf: Alexis Thompson, only 15, was one of the longest hitters while finishing 10th in her fourth Women’s Open. Brittany Lang also was steady with a pair of 69s while tying for fifth.

“You know, there’s a huge Asian influence on our tour, but I think we’ve proved in the last couple of months that the Americans are there,” Creamer said. “We all learn from each other and motivate each other.”

Now, Creamer can provide motivation to golfers who believe they can’t overcome adversity or misfortune. After reinjuring her thumb in the first LPGA tournament of the season in Thailand, she was worried her game wouldn’t recover.

“I thought, `Gosh, I might never play again,”’ she said.

Despite her prior success, there were no suggestions she could play this well in only her fourth tournament since returning. She was 42nd at the LPGA Championship, and she missed the cut last week at the Jamie Farr Classic.

“Without a doubt, I’ve matured over the last couple of months,” Creamer said. “It was hard. I’ve prepared for this for the last three months and it makes everything so much better.”

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

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Green jacket tour

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Man of the people

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Growing family

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Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

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Victory at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm