Life changes bring Pressel, Creamer, Lincicome closer

By Randall MellJanuary 7, 2015, 10:25 pm

The offseason is becoming shorter for LPGA pros, but they’re still managing to pack a lot of life-changing activity into it.

Between the engagements, the weddings and the monumental fundraising, a woman can barely catch her breath this offseason.

Morgan Pressel made a dash up the Florida Turnpike to Orlando early Wednesday morning to appear on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive after her two-day Morgan & Friends Fight Cancer event at St. Andrews Country Club in her Boca Raton hometown, where she helped raise $751,600 in the fight against breast cancer, which took her mother’s life in 2003. The Morgan Pressel Foundation has raised more than $4 million in the eight years since she devoted herself to the cause.

“I’m going home to sleep,” Pressel cracked after leaving the Golf Channel studios for the drive back to Boca Raton.

It’s been an exhilarating six weeks for Pressel and her closest LPGA friends since the last putt dropped at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples. For a special group of players who grew up together, lives are changing in dramatic ways.

Paula Creamer got married three weeks ago. Pressel, by the way, was Creamer’s matron of honor.

Brittany Lincicome announced her engagement just a few days after Creamer’s wedding.

Pressel, 26, got married almost exactly two years ago.

“There must be something in the water,” Pressel told “We’re dropping like flies.”

The trio grew up playing junior golf together. Creamer brought Pressel to tears in her Morning Drive appearance Wednesday with a tweet about their friendship.

“She is one of a kind, and I’m so proud to call her my friend,” Creamer wrote. “What she’s doing for women and their families, with the Morgan Pressel Foundation, makes me so proud. She won’t stop until there is a cure.”

The older that Pressel, Creamer and Lincicome get, the closer they’re becoming.

“I’ve known Paula and Brittany since I was 12 years old,” Pressel told “We’ve been on tour for nine, 10 years now, and we’ve all settled in. It’s the cycle of life. Now the joke is who’s going to have a baby first.”

Pressel’s generation is dealing with the challenge of juggling careers with personal lives that are changing in dramatic ways. Brittany Lang is in that group of friends. So is Amanda Blumenherst. Lang got married a year ago. Blumenherst left the game last year to focus on her husband and starting a family, and she gave birth to her first child six weeks ago.

Natalie Gulbis and Cristie Kerr didn’t grow up playing with Pressel and that generation. They’re older, in their 30s now, but they’re in that circle of friends. Gulbis got married 13 months ago. Kerr has been married for eight years, but she’s adapting to a new life as a mom. Her first child, Mason, turned 1 last month.

For Creamer, there’s already the challenge of balancing a pair of careers. Her new husband, Derek Heath, is an Air Force pilot and was just hired by United Airlines. They aren’t sure how their careers are going to intersect with all the travel.

“This is a new stage of our life, and there is going to be some give and take,” Creamer told Morning Drive. “Obviously, our schedules are going to be incredibly busy. I have my job and what I want to achieve, and he has his goals and what he wants to achieve. We are definitely going to be learning early on. That’s part of life, and we are both so excited about this next chapter, this next step in our lives together.”

For Pressel, there’s satisfaction knowing so many of her friends are there supporting the cause that means so much to her. The Morgan & Friends quest is becoming a life’s work. There’s a reward seeing her friends help her change the lives of families they don’t even know. The Morgan Pressel Foundation makes that happen.

The foundation funded creation of the Morgan Pressel Center for Cancer Genetics at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. It also funds the Kathy Krickstein Pressel MammoVan, named after Morgan’s mother. It’s a mobile state-of-the-art digital mammography system, which takes the technology into Palm Beach County communities.

Pressel became the youngest winner of a major championship when she won the Kraft Nabisco at 18 in 2007. She’s proud her name’s on that trophy, but she’s even prouder seeing her name on the cancer center in Boca Raton.

“My name is on the center, but it’s not just me,” Pressel said. “There are so many people who make that possible. There should be 500 names on the cancer center. It is special, but the MammoVan is even more special to me because it’s named after my mother. That was my goal starting out, to find a way to honor her and help other women.”

And to save children the pain of losing a mother too soon.

There’s no offseason in Pressel’s work toward that.

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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 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."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

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.