Wie Creamer Top List of Talented Teens

By Associated PressJune 30, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 U.S. WomenSOUTH HADLEY, Mass. -- Michelle Wie is the most famous teenager in golf. That doesn't mean she's the best - not yet, anyway.
The 14-year-old Hawaiian showed up at the U.S. Women's Open with plenty of company - a record 16 teenagers in the 156-player field at Orchards Golf Club.
That doesn't include Morgan Pressel, the 16-year-old pixie from south Florida who whipped Wie in the third round of the U.S. Junior Girls Amateur last summer. Also absent is Ya-Ni Tseng of Taiwan, the 15-year-old who rallied over the closing holes to beat Wie last week in the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links.
Wie finished ahead of Annika Sorenstam in the first LPGA Tour major of the year. She was better than Adam Scott over two days at the Sony Open, where her 68 was the best ever by a female on the PGA Tour.
She wants to play both tours one day, and Ernie Els is among those who believes she can. But there is plenty of competition in her own age group.
Topping the list is Paula Creamer, the 17-year-old Californian with an engaging smile and a game that is only now starting to get noticed.
Creamer starred at the Curtis Cup last month. With matches tied at 6 going into the Sunday singles, Creamer was sent out in the first match against the best from Great Britain & Ireland, Emma Duggleby, beating her 3 and 2 to give the United States an emotional lift on its way to a 10-8 victory.
When they returned home, Wie went to the men's Amateur Public Links and failed to qualify by one shot. Creamer competed on the LPGA Tour and finished second, one shot behind Cristie Kerr, at the ShopRite Classic. Wie has never been higher than fourth on the LPGA, although that was at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, a major.
The following week, Wie lost in the finals of the Women's Amateur Public Links, a noble effort considering the vagaries of match play and the pressure she faced as defending champion.
Creamer continued her tour of the LPGA and tied for 12th in Rochester, N.Y., on a tough course. She was one of only five players who shot par or better all four days.
Despite their age, a rivalry already is budding.
It started last summer in the Women's Open, when Creamer delighted in getting grouped with - and beating - Wie in the 36-hole qualifier. Wie-mania was just taking off, but the 17-year-old Creamer wanted nothing to do with it.
'She's just another junior golfer,' Creamer said at the time. 'I don't really see her as someone beyond me. I've played her twice and beat her both times.'
An icy relationship quickly melted as Curtis Cup teammates, starting with a four-day practice session when Wie and Creamer took walks on the beach at Sea Island.
'We really got to know each other,' Wie said. 'We got really close.'
Creamer was baited into talk of a rivalry on Tuesday, but she refused to take even a nibble and at one point started laughing even before the question was posed.
'Just waiting to hear what's next,' she said.
Do you want to beat Michelle as badly as you did last year?
'I try to play the golf course, really,' Creamer said, stifling a smile. 'I would like to beat anybody I play. But there's not one person that I try to beat.'
Still, the attention heaped on Wie motivates her.
'She asked me one time, 'Does she (Wie) ever get questions about me?'' said her father, Paul Creamer, a pilot for American Airlines. 'I said, 'If not, she should.' But it all goes back to taking care of what you can control. People in the golf world know what's going on.
'Put their resumes together and people can come to their own interpretations.'
Creamer has All-Star credentials for a senior-to-be at the David Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where she has spent the last four years. She has won 16 prominent junior titles and has thrived in three international competitions at the Junior Solheim Cup, the Spirit and the Curtis Cup.
'Paula doesn't have anything to prove,' her father said.
Wie has won only one title of distinction, but it was a biggie. A year ago at age 13, she became the youngest winner of a USGA championship for grown-ups when she captured the Women's Amateur Public Links. She outlasted Duke star Virada Nirapathpongporn, who went on to win the U.S. Women's Amateur later that summer.
Her father, B.J. Wie, is taking an unconventional route by sending her out against the best.
She already has played against the men on the Canadian, Nationwide and PGA Tour, missing the cut in all of them. But she captured everyone's imagination, and showed her awesome potential, with a 68 in the Sony Open that left her one stroke shy of playing on the weekend.
On the LPGA Tour, she has made the cut in nine of her last 10 tournaments and would have earned enough money in three events this year to be 41st on the money list.
Some argue, Tiger Woods included, that Wie needs to experience winning. But she is only 14, and it is too early to judge the path she is taking.
One thing seems certain - that path figures to intersect with Creamer at some point, if it hasn't already.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage U.S. Women's Open
  • TV Airtimes
  • Course Tour - The Orchards
  • Getty Images

    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

    Getty Images

    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

    Getty Images

    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

    Getty Images

    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.