Creamer: Ko's record-breaking win 'pretty substantial'

By Ryan LavnerAugust 28, 2012, 7:07 pm

It wasn’t too long ago that Paula Creamer was billed as the Next Big Thing in women’s golf, the teenage wunderkind who outdueled older, more polished peers. In 2005, she won the Sybase Classic and, at the time, became the youngest winner in LPGA history, at 18 years and 9 months.

Incredibly, that mark has since been eclipsed – twice – by potentially game-changing talents: Lexi Thompson, who was 16 when she won last year’s Navistar Classic; and now by 15-year-old Lydia Ko, who torched the field Sunday during an eye-opening victory at the Canadian Women’s Open.

“I think it’s incredible,” Creamer told GTC on Tuesday. “And not for her to just win, but to really win – strong – and deal with everything that came with it. Records are going to be broken all the time, but that’s pretty substantial right there.”

Ko’s triumph reignites a lively debate, however: Is having a 15-year-old amateur dominate one of the strongest fields of the year beneficial for the LPGA, or is it more an indictment of the tour?

Said Creamer, “I think it’s good, and I think we need to embrace it. I think, too, that she needs to do what she wants to do, and it’ll be interesting to see the path she chooses. But that little stretch she had (on Sunday), holding it all together . . . at 26 years old it’s hard, let alone at 15.”

Indeed, there is no diminishing Ko’s star-making performance. The South Korean-born New Zealander, who also won this year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur, closed with a 5-under 67, which included a run of five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, to win by three shots over Inbee Park.

A nine-time winner on the LPGA, Creamer tied for 60th in Canada as she continues to grapple with a swing change under coach David Whelan.

“There’s not one word to describe it,” Creamer said of her 2012 campaign, during which she’s posted four top-10s and dropped to 18th in the Rolex Rankings. “I’ve gone through a lot, whether it was the passing of my grandfather or just trying to figure things out.

“I realize the swing changes I’m making are difficult, but I never realized it’d be this hard. Hopefully I’ll look back and say this was the greatest thing I’ve ever done. But right now, in the middle of it, it’s the hardest and most frustrating thing I’ve ever had to do. I want it so bad, and the passion for that will never change.”

A victory at the upcoming Ricoh Women’s British Open certainly could help salvage a sub-par season. Having already played a practice round at Royal Liverpool, Creamer likes her chances on a course that demands accuracy off the tee and a piercing ball flight in the wind.

Said Creamer, “If there’s a British Open golf course set up for me, it’s that one.” 

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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.