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
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.