Trophy Traded for Cap and Gown

By George WhiteMay 24, 2005, 4:00 pm
Paula Creamer wont be playing in the LPGAs Corning Classic this week. You see, she has rather pressing business she has to take care of Thursday at 11 oclock. Its a matter of ' well, high school graduation.
Creamer is the winner of last weeks Sybase Classic. Not since Marlene Hagge in 1952 has someone so young (18) won. Creamer cant rent a car for several years yet. And until Thursday, she cant even claim to be a high school graduate.
Paula Creamer
Paula Creamer's win moved her into 4th place on the LPGA Money list.
But, she is a professional tournament winner! Shes going back to Bradenton, Fla., for the senior banquet before the graduation exercise Thursday. Maybe she will be voted by her classmates at the Pendleton School as most likely to succeed. Oh wait - she already has succeeded!
Paula babbled on like a regular high school girl when discussing it. It's so exciting. There's not enough words to explain, she said. I can't speak, let alone think. It's awesome. There's so much energy coming out of me right now.
Lets see ' she won the LPGA Qualifying School Tournament by five shots in the fall when she had just turned 18. But while still a student at the David Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton last summer, Creamer played in the U.S. Womens Open and finished a very impressive 13th. And she almost won last year while an amateur, finishing only one shot behind winner Cristie Kerr at the ShopRite Classic.
This year? The kid has made the cut in nine of 10 events and had a T3 finish earlier this year before her victory. And she still is looking forward to her graduation? After winning in New York, her high school ceremonies are still this meaningful?
Graduation is - well, that's hard to say, because graduation was just a completion of part of my life. And this, I hope, keeps going on-and-on kind of thing, Paula says.
I'm very proud that I am graduating and I'm very proud that I'm going home for that. But I'm also very proud of winning. It's hard to say, but this has been fun.
High school classes for Creamer ended in January. She worked extra hard to come out on the tour early. Her mother and father are going everywhere with her this rookie season ' remember, she isnt even allowed to rent a car.
And if anyone still believes that she is too young to turn pro, that the constant pressure on her is too much for a girl ' well, this should disprove such thinking. Certainly there are some young ladies who are not too young, as long as their parents are such an integral part of their travel and new life.
Actually, young people are at Pendleton hoping to become stars in tennis, basketball, soccer and other sports. All are hoping to win. Some have made it extremely big while teen-agers. Paula is curious ' she wonders what its like to be a child prodigy in these other sports.
With tennis players, I would like to know what it's like with them, with that being competitive out there, she mused. Maria Sharapova went to the Academy, as well. So there's a lot of people in common. We talk about it in different totally, you know, just off the golf course or off the tennis course or whatever.
Sharapova, incidentally another 18-year-old, has already won Wimbledon. She is probably the most famous Pendleton student. But Paula wont be far behind if she keeps this winning thing going. Pendleton, by the way, isnt your average high school. But for Creamer, it has been the ticket to a champions way of life.
I think for me it's normal, she said of her days at the school, then suddenly becoming a sports professional. 'But I think for anybody else, it's far from normal. It works with my schedule and it's all I'm used to. I think the other kids who don't go to academies and things like that, their life is normal. But to the normal 18 year old, it's definitely not the same.
Well, what is normal? And should any 18-year-old be subjected to such pressures as professional sports?
I've been asked this question a couple of times, began Creamer. I think if the person feels prepared for it - I'm 18, a lot of people feel that's way too young.
But I feel I'm ready for this and this is what I want to do. But I don't necessarily know in other sports. All I know is this one right now, golf, and I can only comment on that. I think if the person is prepared and this is what they want to do, so be it.
Paula has learned to live with pressure, to become accustomed to a life of competition. She is wise beyond her years on such matters. Be it best teenager, best American, best whatever ' she wants the heat turned all the way up.
I thrive off of pressure, she claims. It makes me practice harder. It makes me try to represent my country more, everything now, I hope that some day I can help other junior girls to get involved with golf.
Oh ' she got the perfunctory champagne douse after her win at Sylbase. I dont care if she is a kid, she wasnt going to escape the champagne spray. How did she like it?
Terrible, she said abruptly. It got in my eye. It was awful. I smell like it and it's not so good right now.
Hey - at least it's on me.
As opposed to, say, inside her. Tsk tsk ' after all, she isnt yet even out of high school. Not for a few hours, anyway.
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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up right where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.