Thirty-Six Futures Tour Players Earn LPGA Cards
Paula Creamer, the talented amateur from Pleasanton, Calif., who was
co-medalist at the Futures Tour Qualifying Tournament in November, clobbered
the field by five shots at 11-under-par 349 for the 90-hole event held at
LPGA International. Because she entered the week as an amateur, Creamer's
winner's check was split by Futures Tour member Young Jo of Suwon, Korea and
Futures Tour alum Lee Ann Walker-Cooper of Cary, N.C., who each collected
$5,500 for their efforts. Jo and Walker-Cooper tied for second at six-under
'It's the end and it's a new beginning,' said Creamer, 18, of her opening
act as a professional. 'I'm not really surprised about this week because I
came into this tournament wanting to win. Playing in [the Futures Tour]
qualifying a month ago was a good tune-up and it showed me that I needed to
tighten things up and work on my short game. That's what I did before coming
into this week.'
Alternating on both the Champions and Legends courses before playing the
final round on the Legends course, Creamer posted rounds of 70-68-70-71-70.
But Jo's second-round 66 tied as the low round of the week and put the
two-year Futures Tour member in position to make a charge for one of the
exempt cards to join best-pal Aram Cho on the LPGA Tour next year. Cho
earned her exempt status by finishing fourth on the Futures Tour Money List
and Jo, who finished 11th, advanced into LPGA Final Qualifying by finishing
among the Futures' top 15. Ninety holes later, Jo had capitalized on that
opportunity playing in the final group with Creamer and LPGA Tour veteran
'I was prepared because the Futures Tour helped me a lot,' said Jo, who
celebrated after her round with Cho and Futures Tour member Sunny Oh. 'I
never even thought about playing the LPGA Tour until I played the Futures
Tour. This week, I learned I have to play even better.'
For Futures Tour member Emily Bastel of Upper Sandusky, Ohio, earning an
exempt LPGA Tour card was even sweeter after losing her No. 5 spot in the
last event of the season to tournament winner Malinda Johnson. Bastel had
virtually locked up her LPGA card to automatically advance to the LPGA Tour,
but was bumped from fifth to sixth position when Johnson won the season's
concluding event. Bastel's determination to change her fortune was evident
with her opening round of 67 in this week's five-round event.
'Ever since the Futures Tour ended in August, I felt like I deserved to be
here,' said Bastel, who tied for fourth at four-under 356 with Futures Tour
member Celeste Troche and LPGA Tour veteran Cathy Johnston-Forbes.
'I had a lot of rounds in the 60s and I had a really good year, so I was obviously
disappointed not to finish in the top five and earn my LPGA card. In the
end, you take away the positives but at the time, it was devastating. That
helped me to be tougher mentally. I'm definitely a better player now than I
was last year this time, thanks to the Futures Tour.'
A non-exempt LPGA Tour member this year, Troche said she was relieved to
finally earn exempt LPGA status. 'I did what I came to do,' said Troche, of
Asuncion, Paraguay, who carded a 67 in the second round. 'On the Futures
Tour, I learned about the rhythm of the competition. Now, it feels like
graduation -- like we're going off to college.'
Futures Tour rookies Sung Ah Yim of Seoul, Korea and Bernadette Luse of
Orlando, Fla., tied for 10th at two-under 358. Yim's nerves rattled to the
tune of five-over-par 77 in the opening round, but the 21-year old settled
down with a four-under-par 68 on the second day.
'I was really nervous that first day and my caddie told me I was too
uptight,' said Yim, who automatically advanced into the LPGA's Final
Qualifying Tournament with her No. 7 position on the Futures Tour's season
money list. 'But playing this year on the Futures Tour, I improved my skills
and my mental game. To get this [LPGA Tour card], I'm very excited and very
Luse played her final three rounds at five-under par to move into a share of
10th place. 'It's just a huge relief to get my LPGA card and this is a real
turning point for me right now,' she said. 'I started playing golf late at
age 15, and I guess I'm a late bloomer, but playing with the Futures was a
great way for me to learn my game.'
Two Futures Tour alums who previously earned their exempt LPGA cards
regained exempt status this week in the qualifier. Korea's Birdie Kim, who
earned her LPGA card in 2003 as Ju Kim, carded a final-round 69 en route to
her one-under-par five-day total of 359 to tie for 12th with Tampa's Beth
Bauer. Bauer posted a five-under-par score of 67 in the second round.
Among the eight players tying for 12th at 359 were Futures Tour members
Katie Allison of Mahwah, N.J., and Amy Hung of Taiwan. Allison, 24, called
getting her LPGA Tour card 'pretty surreal.'
'It was a marathon out there,' she said. 'I had to really focus on targets
and taking deep breaths just to get the job done. I'm thrilled that I made
it, but now the work begins.'
Allison, who played her first year on the Futures Tour this season, said she
learned 'how to score and how to stay in it' this year. She finished ranked
51st after 15 events. 'Playing week to week really got me ready for LPGA
Qualifying and I have to say that my game is dramatically different now than
a year ago,' she said. 'I owe that to what I learned playing with the
Brittany Lincicome, the teen from Seminole, Fla., who tied Creamer last
month for medalist honors in the Futures Tour Qualifying Tournament, tied
for 20th at even-par 360 with Futures Tour members Kristin Samp of Moberly,
Mo., and Hana Kim of Los Angeles. Futures Tour member Jordan Cherebetiu of
Rapid City, S.D., finished 24th at one-over 361 to also earn her exempt 2005
LPGA Tour card.
'I cried coming up the 18th fairway,' confessed Kim, 22, who played
collegiately at Northwestern and UCLA. 'I worked hard on the Futures Tour
this year and felt prepared coming in. To earn my way onto the LPGA Tour was
my ultimate goal of the year.'
Seven players played off three extra holes for the final six exempt cards
with Futures Tour members Mee Na Lee of Seoul, Korea, Dina Ammaccapane of
Phoenix and Joellyn-Erdmann-Crooks grabbing three of those cards.
'It just feels good to finish the year not burned out,' laughed
Erdmann-Crooks, who played full-time with the Futures from 1999-2003 and six
events last year.
Three 2004 Futures Tour tournament winners earned non-exempt LPGA Tour
status for 2005. Erica Blasberg of Corona, Calif., finished 4th non-exempt
at three-over 363, followed by Naree Song of Seoul, who finished 16th at
five-over 365, and Courtney Wood of Brentwood, Tenn., who finished 30th
Seven of the Futures Tour's top-10 players and 12 of the top 15 earned some
type of LPGA Tour status for 2005. Ninth-ranked Kris Tamulis of Naples,
Fla., finished as fifth non-exempt at three-over 363 after being tied for
18th overall after four rounds. Tamulis' four-over-par 76 in the final round
stole her chance of playing off for one of the final cards. Allison Hanna of
Portland, Ore., ranked 13th on the Futures Tour Money List, finished as 34th
non-exempt at nine-over 369. Eighth-ranked Kyeong Bae of Seoul, 10th-ranked
Seon-Hwa Lee of Chonan, Korea and 15th-ranked Michelle Murphy of Tacoma,
Wash., all missed the 72-hole cut.
After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...
Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner
On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...
Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.
After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.
Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.
A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray
Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call
PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.
At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.
“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”
Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.
Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.
Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.
“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park
PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.
Laura Davies won the day.
It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.
Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.
Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.
For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.
In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.
“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”
At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.
“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”
Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.
“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.
With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.
“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”
Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.
“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”
She also relished showing certain fans something.
“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.
In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.
Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.
“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.
After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.
“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”
Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.
In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.
“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”
And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.
Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill
ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.
The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?
“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”
And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.
After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.
“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”