A year ago, this tournament served as a coming-out party for Creamer, as it was her second LPGA Tour win and solidified her newfound status as an LPGA superstar. She beat the world-class field by eight strokes, and the win vaulted her into the LPGA record books, as she became the youngest and fastest player in LPGA Tour history to win more than $1 million in a season. She rode that momentum to Solheim Cup stardom and ended a whirlwind year with a second-place ranking on the ADT Official Money List and Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors.
Creamer, who is 12th on the ADT Official Money List this year after eight top-10 finishes in 16 starts, is looking for her first win of 2006. The fond memories of her victory last year and her recent stellar play are sure to buoy her this week.
Creamer finished one shot out of a playoff at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger'the most recent event on the LPGA Tour schedule'and advanced to the semifinals a week before at the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship, so she is peaking at the right time heading into her title defense.
Still, the competition is going to be tough, as the Evian Masters is a 78-player field that draws the best players in the world competing for one of the largest paychecks in the world to one of the most beautiful locations in the world.
Four players'Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Karrie Webb and Mi Hyun Kim'have each won two events this season and also surpassed the $1 million mark in season earnings.
Last year at this time, Sorenstam was the only player to have accrued more than $1 million in earnings. Ten players can join the millionaire club with the lucrative $450,000 first-place check, as a win by Juli Inkster, Hee-Won Han, Brittany Lincicome, rookie Seon-Hwa Lee, Pat Hurst, Jeong Jang, Cristie Kerr, defending champ Creamer, Se Ri Pak or Natalie Gulbis would easily propel them over the seven-figure mark in season earnings.
Sixty-eight time LPGA Tour champion Sorenstam traditionally plays well at the elegant par-72 Evian Masters Golf Club. In six appearances, she has two wins and a runner-up finish. If Sorenstam can get a few more putts to fall'she had 121 of them at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, which was 16 more than winner Mi Hyun Kim, and still finished eighth'then she is going to be a formidable opponent in France.
Ochoa, who checks in at number one on the ADT Official Money List, is also a player to keep an eye on, as she can post sub-par numbers in a hurry. Ochoa is sixth in birdies this year and the next one she rolls in will be her 200th of the season. She also tops the Tour in eagles with nine.
Ochoa has two wins this year, an additional five runner-up finishes and has only finished outside of the top 10 four times in 15 starts. The last time she saw Creamer was when she dispatched her 3 and 2 to finish third at the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship.
Webb won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill, which are two of the events where Ochoa finished as a runner-up. Coincidentally, Ochoa was also the runner-up at the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open, which was won by Kim. Kim's other victory came two weeks ago at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger.