Creamer replaces injured Korda on U.S. Solheim Cup team

By Randall MellAugust 8, 2017, 6:14 pm

Paula Creamer’s disappointment failing to make a U.S. Solheim Cup team for the first time in her professional career was short lived.

Captain Juli Inkster revealed Tuesday that she named Creamer as the alternate who will replace injured Jessica Korda on the 12-woman American team that will meet the Europeans next week in Iowa.

“The reason is that Paula’s been there,” Inkster said. “She knows what is going on. She has the experience. She is playing well.”

It’s important to note Inkster had to choose her alternate on Sunday evening, not knowing how serious the injury to Korda’s right forearm was and whether Korda might have to end up withdrawing on the eve of the Solheim Cup.

Instead, Korda announced on Monday that she was reluctantly withdrawing from the event.

“I felt if Paula had to come in Wednesday night and tee it up on Friday, she could handle that,” Inkster said. “I wanted the experience and someone who was not afraid to step in at that point.”

Inkster said she didn’t have anyone else in mind besides Creamer when she submitted the name of her alternate on Sunday night.

“I have a lot of faith and confidence in Paula,” Inkster said. “She reminds me a lot of myself as far as heart and grit.”

Creamer was not in good form two years ago, when Inkster named her as one of her U.S. Solheim Cup captain’s picks going to Germany. Inkster quickly showed her faith in Creamer by sending her out in the opening match with Morgan Pressel. They teamed to take down Europe’s best team, Anna Nordqvist and Suzann Pettersen, 3 and 2 in foursomes.

Inkster also sent Creamer out as her anchor in Sunday singles, and Creamer defeated Germany’s Sandra Gal to complete the United States’ historic comeback victory in Germany. Creamer was 2-2 in Germany.

In six Solheim Cups, Creamer is 14-8-5. Her 16 ½ points are more than any American in the matches outside Inkster ( 18 ½) and Cristie Kerr (17 ½), but Creamer has struggled on tour the last two seasons.

After missing the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open one month ago, Creamer appeared to be a long shot to make the American team. It was her fourth missed cut in her last five starts. She had slumped to 92nd on the LPGA money list and a career-worst 127th in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. Also, for the first time in her career, Creamer wasn’t qualified to play in the Ricoh Women’s British Open. She had to advance through a qualifier three days before the championship to earn a spot.

Creamer said after returning home following the U.S. Women’s Open missed cut, she found something in her work with swing coach Gary Gilchrist. She tied for 13th at the Ladies Scottish Open two weeks ago and tied for 16th at the Women’s British Open last weekend.

“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster,” Creamer said of her emotions. “It’s been a whirlwind.

“I have definitely put in the time. I’ve been working so hard. I know people say that, and it’s just words, but it’s been starting to show. I’ve been staying positive. I knew it was just a matter of time that it was going to happen.”

Inkster said she was disappointed Korda was hurt and had to withdraw. Korda made the team finishing fifth on the U.S. points list. Inkster praised Korda for thinking of the team above herself in letting her know quickly how serious the injury was.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.