Creamer looks for second consecutive major

By Doug FergusonJuly 28, 2010, 12:10 am

Ricoh Women

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Paula Creamer still plays with a bandage. What she no longer plays with is a burden.

Even though Creamer won’t turn 24 until a week from Thursday, after she returns from Royal Birkdale and the final LPGA major of the year, few other players so young have received so much scrutiny for failing to win a major.

At least that’s one question she won’t face this week at the Women’s British Open.

“No, I’m sure it will be, ‘Do you want to win two in a row?”’ Creamer said with an easy laugh just four days after her U.S. Women’s Open victory at Oakmont.

Paula Creamer
Paula Creamer has three consecutive top-10s at the Women's British Open. (Getty Images)
“I feel like my whole career, it’s always been about majors,” she said. “That was the one thing I didn’t have. And now that I do, I only want more. It’s like opening a can of worms. I can’t wait to play the British Open, because I know what it takes to win.”

Creamer endured some tough lessons along the way.

Three times she was poised to win the U.S. Open, the biggest stage in her sport, only to fall apart with bad swings or a bad decision. As an 18-year-old rookie, Creamer was one shot out of the lead going into the final round at Cherry Hills in 2005 when she closed with a 79. Two years ago, she was one shot behind and in the final group when she shot 41 on the front nine at Interlachen and had to rally for a 78.

Last year at Saucon Valley was the toughest to take. She can live with a bad swing. This was a bad decision. One shot behind going into the third round, she tried to drive the 10th green and wound up making triple bogey, sending her to a 79 and ending her hopes.

But she learned, just as Lorena Ochoa did before her.

On what is reputed to be the hardest golf course in America, with her left thumb bandaged from reconstructive surgery that kept her out four months, Creamer stuck to a conservative plan she cooked up with swing coach David Whelan. She never buckled until she had a four-shot victory at Oakmont.

That gives Creamer nine victories and a major. She has played on three winning Solheim Cup teams, losing only twice in 14 matches. That’s not a bad record for someone still only 23.

By her own admission, however, Creamer is an “old 23.”

She won her first LPGA event a week before going through high school graduation, and in her first Solheim Cup as an 18-year-old, she crushed Laura Davies (7 and 5) in an opening singles match that set the tone. Off the course, she is one of the most marketable players on the LPGA. Creamer has had to learn how to fit in with business executives at corporate outings.

“I think I am older than my age,” she said. “I had to grow up pretty fast. There are times when I’m a young 23, but on the golf course, I’ve definitely matured much faster than my age. But there’s still so much I have to learn.”

Greatness in women’s golf doesn’t wait very long.

Annika Sorenstam won the first of her 10 majors in her second year on tour. Se Ri Pak won two majors as a rookie. Karrie Webb won her first major in her fourth season on the LPGA, and then she had the career Grand Slam two years later.

Creamer is only 23, but this is her sixth year on tour. She risked getting left behind, especially with a thumb injury that caused her to wonder if her career was over much earlier than she had planned.

That’s why it was important to get that first major.

Equally important is where she goes from here. Creamer is No. 7 in the women’s world ranking, although No. 1 has never been so close. There is not a dominant player at the moment, not like Sorenstam when the ranking made its debut, or Ochoa who followed.

Three players have been No. 1 during the last three months – Jiyai Shin, Cristie Kerr and Ai Miyazato. It gives the LPGA something to talk about every time there’s a change at the top, but what it really needs is a veritable star.

It doesn’t hurt that Americans are starting to show up. Kerr won the LPGA Championship by 12 shots, and Creamer won at Oakmont by four shots. If an American wins at Royal Birkdale, it would be the first time since 1999 that a Yank captured three majors in a year.

“Right now, it’s going to be a battle,” Creamer said. “It’s going to take awhile for one person to dominate. We’ve got eight players, 10 players who can win every week. We’ve never had that. We’ve never had that strength. We had Annika dominate, Lorena dominate. This makes it exciting. But somebody has to push a little.”

Golf is always better off when the game is “King of the Hill” instead of “Musical Chairs.”

Creamer has talked about being No. 1 since she was a teenager and finished second to Sorenstam on the money list as a rookie. That seems like a long time ago. She needs to be a young 23.

“One person is going to have to branch out of that group and work harder than anybody,” Creamer said. “I want to be that person.”

 

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.