No 6 Creamer Rises to the Top

By December 22, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Stories of the Year - #6Editor's note: We are counting down the top 10 stories in golf for the 2005 season. This is Story No. 6.
For most high school teenagers, graduation day is the biggest day of their young lives.
For Paula Creamer, it wasnt even the biggest day of her week.
Creamer, an 18-year-old LPGA Tour rookie at the time, had earlier in the week become the second youngest player to win an event on the LPGA Tour with her victory at the Sybase Classic in New York. For dramatic effect ' and a harbinger for things to come - she rolled in a birdie putt at the 72nd hole for her maiden victory.
Paula Creamer
Paula Creamer's win at the Sybase Classic was one of her two rookie titles.
What a way to start a career for one of the brightest stars on the suddenly white hot LPGA Tour. With Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel waiting in the wings, Creamer ' known as the Pink Panther due to her ever present pink attire ' beat the other teen sensations to the punch with her breakout rookie season.
By the time her roller-coaster of a season had ended, Creamer had claimed another LPGA Tour title at the Evian Masters, posted two more wins in Japan, spearheaded a victory at the biennial Solheim Cup matches for the USA, became the youngest player to surpass $1 million in earnings on tour and won the LPGA Tours Rookie of the Year Award in a landslide. Whew!
And she started a controversy or two for good measure.
First came the Solheim Cup where the United States was coming off a pretty solid beating two years prior in Sweden. Creamer, the first LPGA rookie to ever make the team, decided to take matters into her own hands.
'All I can say is they (the Europeans) had better get ready because they're going to get beat,'' declared Creamer, much to the medias delight. Im putting it down. I'm very confident.'
It didnt quite carry the same weight as Joe Namaths guarantee at Super Bowl III, but for the LPGA Tour, pretty strong words nonetheless. Thankfully, her bold prediction was backed by her teammates and more importantly, team captain and Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez.
'She's 18, 19, she can say anything she wants,' said Lopez about Creamer stirring up the pot. 'It's nothing against the Europeans, she's just excited to play, she's very enthusiastic and I love it. All I want to hear is positive, nothing negative.'
But just like Broadway Joe, Creamer and the U.S. squad responded in kind by winning the matches in an emotional romp around the Crook Stick Golf Club in Indianapolis. Creamer herself went an impressive 3-1-1 in her matches and was one of only two players on the U.S. side to play in all five matches. So much for being a so-called rookie on the team.
Oh, there is nothing better than representing the United States of America and winning. There is nothing in golf that can make that a better feeling. Winning events is huge, but playing on a team and representing your country is a whole other league. It's a whole other level that you don't get to experience it as much, said Creamer after the USAs victory. I think with that, this makes this one of the highlights of my golf career.
Paula Creamer and Nancy Lopez
Creamer receives a hug from Solheim Cup captain Nancy Lopez.
Granted, a rookie season does not quite make a career, but it was indeed quite spectacular. Especially when you toss her showdown with Annika at the ADT Championship into the mix.
Prior to the start of the event, Creamer made her feelings known that she was undeniably gunning for Sorenstams perch atop the world rankings.
I have always set high goals for myself. It just kind of motivates me, she said. When it comes to golf, I (have always) wanted to be the No. 1 player in the world.
The budding rivalry came to head late in the first round of the event, when the two players had an argument over where Sorenstams tee shot on 18 crossed the hazard and whether she should have gone back to the tee for her next shot. After conferring with rules officials, Sorenstam was allowed a favorable drop, much to the angst of Creamer.
I dont feel that it crossed (the hazard). Were never going to agree because she saw it differently, said Creamer following the round. In my heart of hearts, I did not see it cross. Its her conscience. If she thinks it did, it did.
'Golf is all about honesty and integrity of yourself out on the golf course,' followed up Creamer. 'I don't want to go home and say, Man, I should have said what I felt. I said what I felt. If it's wrong, it's wrong.'
Sorenstam acted as if she didnt understand what all the fuss was for, and true to form brushed it aside calmly and then went about winning her 10th title of the year. In the process, she let Creamer know just how far shell have to go take away Sorenstams mantle as best female player in the world.
Im going to have to work really hard this off-season, said Creamer. I have to get a lot longer; I need to get stronger. I need to be able to hit different shots. My putting needs to get better, short game, just creativity type of golf shots. Im glad I have my rookie year under my belt now.
A rookie year in which she graduated on so many levels.
Related Links:
  • The Year in Review
  • Paula Creamer's Bio
  • Photo Gallery
  • Solheim Cup Coverage
  • ADT Championship Coverage
  • Getty Images

    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

    Getty Images

    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

    Getty Images

    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

    Getty Images

    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."