Kiddie Corps Bolts to Top in LPGA

By George WhiteDecember 8, 2005, 5:00 pm
It wasnt so long ago ' actually only three or four years ' that the LPGA was going through an identity crises. The PGA Tour looked like the fountain of youth with its Sergio Garcias, its Charles Howells and Matt Kuchars and Notah Begays.
The LPGA? They didnt have much in the category of top-flight young players. Oh, there were Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak, but still dominating were the older players ' Juli Inkster, Meg Mallon, Rosie Jones, Beth Daniel.
Paula Creamer
Paula Creamer is at the front of a youth movement on the LPGA Tour.
My, my, how times have changed. Now its the PGA Tour whose well of hot young players seems to have dried up. And look at the LPGA. Its roster of impressive young talent looks like the came right out of prep school.
Which, in fact, they have. The list of players who are under 21 is better than its ever been. Stretch the age limit to 25 and you have most of the great young talent in the LPGA covered.
Start with the money list leaders from this year. Of course no one is within light years of the regal Miss, Annika Sorenstam. But beyond her, the list of leaders gets crowded in a hurry.
Start with the No. 2 money-winner, Paula Creamer. She took time out from the tour this summer to attend her high school graduation. She won twice and played a pivotal role for the U.S. in the Solheim Cup. Did I mention that she is just four months past her 19th birthday?
Cristie Kerr is the old lady at 28, and doesnt that sound a little strange? The only man on the top 10 in PGA Tour money who is younger than that is 25-year-old Garcia. In fact, after Dec. 30 when Tiger Woods turns 30, only Garcia will be in his 20s among the top 14 tour money-winners.
But go down the LPGAs top 10 No. 4 is Lorena Ochoa, who is just 24; so is Jeong Jang, who is No. 5; No. 6 Natalie Gulbis is only 22; No. 7 Meena Lee is 24, No. 8 Hee-Won Han is 27, and No. 9 Gloria Park is 25. You have to go all the way down to No. 10 to get to another woman in her 30s ' 36-year-old Catriona Matthew.
Creamer at 19 would be expected to have a very long, very successful career in the LPGA after Sorenstam finally decides to call it a career. But look at the just-completed tour-school graduates. Creamer had better not relax ' a lot of young women right around her age are coming to the tour shortly.
Leading the onslaught is Q-school champion Ai Miyazato, who is just 20 years old. Ai won six times in Japan this year, 12 times in the past three years. The Okinawan stands just 5-feet-2, but she makes up for her lack of size with tremendous putting and iron play.
How good is she? She won the Q-school by a whopping 12 strokes. That kicked the stuffings out of the old record. No one has approached this serious a drubbing since the LPGA started its Q-school in 1973.
Other Q-school grads were Morgan Pressel (17) and Brittany Lang (19) ' they tied for second at the U.S. Women's Open as amateurs last year ' and Julieta Granada, who has a long line of amateur titles in addition to winning on the Futures Tour this summer. Left out of the womens mix is Michelle Wie, who just turned 16.
Na Ri Kim, 20, and Shinobu Moromizato, 19, will add to the LPGA tour's Asian presence next year. Kim is from Seoul, South Korea, and Moromizato also is from Okinawa.
The men? The top 10 is composed of Garcia and a bunch of 30- and 40-year-olds. Woods, as mentioned, is just days away from his 30th birthday. Kenny Perry is 45, Bart Bryant is 43, Vijay Singh is 42. David Toms is 38, Chris DiMarco 37, Retief Goosen 36, and Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk 35.
Experience, perhaps, is all-important to the male pros. To the women, however, nothing can take the place of youth.
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

Getty Images

Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.