Notes Creamers New Label Jacks Lifetime Award

By Associated PressApril 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- If there is a youth movement on the LPGA Tour, this might be the best sign. Paula Creamer is considered the best player to have never won a major. And shes only 21.
Other players have more than her five victories, such as Mi Hyun Kim (eight) and Hee-Won Han (six), but none without a major has been as consistently good as Creamer. She is No. 3 in the world and has won over $1 million in each of her three seasons.
Unlike others with that label, Creamer seems to embrace it.
I think its nice that I have that much ability in peoples eyes to win majors, as much as they believe in me to do that, she said. So thats exciting. At the same time, Im trying my hardest. Its not like I want to sit here without a major win. Thats something Ive always wanted to do, and to be the No. 1 player in the world is something that I want to work as hard as I can to get.
I know if I win a major and I win some more tournaments this year, Ill have a chance at that eventually.
Two other candidates removed themselves from the list last year. Cristie Kerr won the U.S. Womens Open, and Lorena Ochoa followed with a victory in the Womens British Open for her first major. Both were in their 20s.
The men usually have to wait a little longer.
Tom Kite was the first to be tagged as the best without a major, languishing 15 years and piling up 16 victories until winning the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach when he was 42.
Now, however, there is a case for Sergio Garcia, who is only 28.
Creamer has only twice seriously contended in a major. She was one shot out of the lead going into the final round of the 2005 U.S. Womens Open and closed with a 79. A year ago, she was one shot out of the lead at the Kraft Nabisco Championship until she shot 40 on the front nine on her way to a 78.
I definitely want to win a major, she said. And this would be a great week to start this out.
Jack Nicklaus will return to The Players Championship, this time to be honored with the PGA TOURs Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the eighth person to receive the award for outstanding contributions to the TOUR.
Where to start with Nicklaus?
Along with his 73 victories and benchmark 18 majors, Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer essentially created the PGA TOUR in 1969 when they encouraged a tournament division of the PGA of America. He runs his own PGA event at the Memorial, and stayed involved in the tour as Presidents Cup captain four times.
Seven tournaments this year are being played on courses he designs, including Q-school and the Target World Challenge.
Since first picking up a club at age 10, I have loved the game of golf, Nicklaus said. And whether it is being fortunate to serve as captain of The Presidents Cup, or being active in golf course design in emerging markets all over the world, or lending a hand to the growth of The First Tee and other junior golf programs, I enjoy staying connected to the game.
More importantly, I enjoy finding ways to give back to the game that has given my family and me so much.
Adam Scott might love going to Augusta National more than the Masters.
Scott joined swing coach Butch Harmon, Fred Couples and Nick Watney for a day of practice two weeks ago, and he has never seen Augusta National more glorious. They stayed Sunday night in one of the cabins and had breakfast in the clubhouse.
I thought we were staying in the Motel 6 down the road for a night, Scott said. Stephens Cabin treated me well. And the best thing about it was Freddie stayed in the cabin with me. They were taking our bags in and said, Heres your room, Mr. Couples. Ill just put the bags in here. The green jacket is in the closet for you.
Couples, who won the Masters in 1992, can only wear his green jacket on the property.
Scott will never forget the first time he saw Augusta National, stunned at how open it was without fairways framed by thousands of people. There is an empty triangle between the eighth, ninth and 18th fairways.
Its completely different. Its beautiful when its empty, he said. I was walking from the cabin at 7:30 a.m. to the clubhouse to have breakfast, and it was so peaceful. Its a beautiful place. I cant imagine what its like to have that opportunity once in a while.
Colin Montgomerie will not be going to the Masters for only the second time in the last 17 years, because he was not among the top finishers in the majors last year and failed to crack the top 50 in the world ranking.
And then theres his birthplace.
In an interview with The Independent newspaper in Britain, the scowling Scot poked fun at Augusta National for its eligibility and said the club panders to Asian players because of its television markets.
The Masters offered special foreign invitations earlier this year to Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, Liang Wen-hong of China and Jeev Milkha Singh of India. All are ranked below Montgomerie, who is No. 75.
There has been no call from Augusta and I am not expecting one, Montgomerie said. Now, if I were the only person in the country, a la China, I might get in. It is a strange way to make up a field for a major championship' television rights. They are quite open about why.
He noted that the last time he missed the Masters, in 2005, the club took Shingo Katayama because of Japanese TV rights.
And they have done the same with Thailand and China this time, Monty said. I am not the only one who feels that way and not just because I am not in. In or not, Id be saying the same thing. It is a strange criterion to pick a major field.
It would be easier to swallow if no one was invited, and it was done on sporting and not commercial criteria.
Montgomerie has only one top 10 in his 15 appearances at the Masters, and he had missed the cut five of his last six tries.
Lucas Glover is the only player from the Presidents Cup team in September who did not qualify for the Masters. Billy Mayfair will be making his 600th career start this week at the Shell Houston Open. Annika Sorenstam is steadily regaining her consistency. Along with a victory in Hawaii, the former No. 1 player is the only LPGA player to have broken par in all 14 rounds this year.
Ten players have won the last 10 majors on the LPGA Tour.
'Guys arent going to shoot 30 on the back nine. You cant reach all the greens in 30.'Scott Verplank on how much tougher the Masters has become with a longer course.

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    Frittelli fulfilled promise by making Match Play field

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:40 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dylan Frittelli attended the University of Texas and still maintains a residence in Austin, so in an odd way this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is a home game for the South African who plays the European Tour.

    Frittelli actually attended the event last year as a spectator, when he watched the quarterfinal matches on Saturday afternoon, and made a promise to himself.

    “I told a lot of people, I was running into them. I said, ‘I'll be here next year, I'll be playing in this tournament,’” said Frittelli, who climbed to 45th in the world ranking after two victories last year in Europe. “People looked at me, you're 190 in the world, that's hard to get to 64. It was a goal I set myself.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Frittelli’s next goal may be a little payback for a loss he suffered in college when he was a teammate of Jordan Spieth’s. Frittelli is making his first start at the Match Play and could face his old Longhorn stable mate this week depending on how the brackets work out and his play.

    “We had the UT inter-team championship. Coach switched it to match play my senior year, and Jordan beat me in the final at UT Golf Club. It was 3 and 2,” Frittelli said. “So I'm not too keen to face him again.

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    Match Play security tightens after Austin bombings

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:06 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – A fourth bombing this month in Austin injured two men Sunday night and authorities believe the attacks are the work of a serial bomber.

    The bombings have led to what appears to be stepped-up security at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

    “I was out here [Sunday]; typically that's the most relaxed day. But they had security officials on every corner of the clubhouse and on the exterior, as well,” said Dylan Frittelli, who lives in Austin and is playing the Match Play for the first time this week. “It was pretty tough to get through all the protocols. I'm sure they'll have stuff in place.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    The PGA Tour told The Associated Press on Monday that it doesn't comment on the specifics of its security measures, but that the safety of players and fans is its top priority. The circuit is also coordinating closely with law enforcement to ensure the safety of players and fans.

    Despite the bombings, which have killed two people and injured two others, the Tour has not yet reached out to players to warn of any potential threat or advise the field about increased security.

    “It’s strange,” Paul Casey said. “Maybe they are going to, but they haven’t.”

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    Rosaforte Report: Faxon helps 'free' McIlroy's mind and stroke

    By Tim RosaforteMarch 19, 2018, 8:00 pm

    With all the talk about rolling back the golf ball, it was the way Rory McIlroy rolled it at the Arnold Palmer Invitational that was the story of the week and the power surge he needed going into the Masters.

    Just nine days earlier, a despondent McIlroy missed the cut at the Valspar Championship, averaging 29 putts per round in his 36 holes at Innisbrook Resort. At Bay Hill, McIlroy needed only 100 putts to win for the first time in the United States since the 2016 Tour Championship.

    The difference maker was a conversation McIlroy had with putting savant Brad Faxon at The Bears Club in Jupiter, Fl., on Monday of API week. What started with a “chat,” as McIlroy described it, ended with a resurrection of Rory’s putting stroke and set him free again, with a triumphant smile on his face, headed to this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and Augusta National in two weeks.

    The meeting with Faxon made for a semi-awkward moment for McIlroy, considering he had been working with highly-regarded putting coach Phil Kenyon since missing the cut in the 2016 PGA Championship. From “pathetic” at Baltusrol, McIlroy became maker of all, upon the Kenyon union, and winner of the BMW Championship, Tour Championship and FedExCup.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    As a professional courtesy, Faxon laid low, respecting McIlroy’s relationship with Kenyon, who also works with European stars Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson. Knowing how McIlroy didn’t like the way Dave Stockton took credit after helping him win multiple majors, Faxon let McIlroy do the talking. Asked about their encounter during his Saturday news conference at Bay Hill, McIlroy called it “more of a psychology lesson than anything else.”

    “There was nothing I told him he had never heard before, nothing I told him that was a secret,” Faxon, who once went 327 consecutive holes on Tour without a three-putt, said on Monday. “I think (Rory) said it perfectly when he said it allowed him to be an athlete again. We try to break it down so well, it locks us up. If I was able to unlock what was stuck, he took it to the next level. The thing I learned, there can be no method of belief more important than the athlete’s true instinct.”

    Without going into too much detail, McIlroy explained that Faxon made him a little more “instinctive and reactive.” In other words, less “mechanical and technical.” It was the same takeaway that Gary Woodland had after picking Faxon’s brain before his win in this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    Sunday night, after leading the field in strokes gained-putting, McIlroy was more elaborative, explaining how Faxon “freed up my head more than my stroke,” confessing that he was complicating things a bit and was getting less athletic.

    “You look at so many guys out there, so many different ways to get the ball in the hole,” he said. “The objective is to get the ball in the hole and that’s it. I think I lost sight of that a little bit.”

    All of this occurred after a conversation I had Sunday morning with swing instructor Pete Cowen, who praised Kenyon for the work he had done with his player, Henrik Stenson. Cowen attributed Henrik’s third-round lead at Bay Hill to the diligent work he put in with Kenyon over the last two months.

    “It’s confidence,” Cowen said. “(Stenson) needs a good result for confidence and then he’s off. If he putts well, he has a chance of winning every time he plays.”

    Cowen made the point that on the PGA Tour, a player needs 100-110 putts per week – or an average of 25-27 putts per round – to have a chance of winning. Those include what Cowen calls the “momentum putts,” that are especially vital in breaking hearts at this week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

    Stenson, who is not playing this week in Austin, Texas, saw a lot of positives but admitted there wasn’t much he could do against McIlroy shooting 64 on Sunday in the final round on a tricky golf course.

    “It's starting to come along in the right direction for sure,” Stenson said. “I hit a lot of good shots out there this week, even though maybe the confidence is not as high as some of the shots were, so we'll keep on working on that and it's a good time of the year to start playing well.”

    Nobody knows that better than McIlroy, who is hoping to stay hot going for his third WGC and, eventually, the career Grand Slam at Augusta.

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    Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

    According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

    The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

    The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.