Notes Creamers New Label Jacks Lifetime Award

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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- If there is a youth movement on the LPGA Tour, this might be the best sign. Paula Creamer is considered the best player to have never won a major. And shes only 21.
 
Other players have more than her five victories, such as Mi Hyun Kim (eight) and Hee-Won Han (six), but none without a major has been as consistently good as Creamer. She is No. 3 in the world and has won over $1 million in each of her three seasons.
 
Unlike others with that label, Creamer seems to embrace it.
 
I think its nice that I have that much ability in peoples eyes to win majors, as much as they believe in me to do that, she said. So thats exciting. At the same time, Im trying my hardest. Its not like I want to sit here without a major win. Thats something Ive always wanted to do, and to be the No. 1 player in the world is something that I want to work as hard as I can to get.
 
I know if I win a major and I win some more tournaments this year, Ill have a chance at that eventually.
 
Two other candidates removed themselves from the list last year. Cristie Kerr won the U.S. Womens Open, and Lorena Ochoa followed with a victory in the Womens British Open for her first major. Both were in their 20s.
 
The men usually have to wait a little longer.
 
Tom Kite was the first to be tagged as the best without a major, languishing 15 years and piling up 16 victories until winning the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach when he was 42.
 
Now, however, there is a case for Sergio Garcia, who is only 28.
 
Creamer has only twice seriously contended in a major. She was one shot out of the lead going into the final round of the 2005 U.S. Womens Open and closed with a 79. A year ago, she was one shot out of the lead at the Kraft Nabisco Championship until she shot 40 on the front nine on her way to a 78.
 
I definitely want to win a major, she said. And this would be a great week to start this out.
 
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT:
Jack Nicklaus will return to The Players Championship, this time to be honored with the PGA TOURs Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the eighth person to receive the award for outstanding contributions to the TOUR.
 
Where to start with Nicklaus?
 
Along with his 73 victories and benchmark 18 majors, Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer essentially created the PGA TOUR in 1969 when they encouraged a tournament division of the PGA of America. He runs his own PGA event at the Memorial, and stayed involved in the tour as Presidents Cup captain four times.
 
Seven tournaments this year are being played on courses he designs, including Q-school and the Target World Challenge.
 
Since first picking up a club at age 10, I have loved the game of golf, Nicklaus said. And whether it is being fortunate to serve as captain of The Presidents Cup, or being active in golf course design in emerging markets all over the world, or lending a hand to the growth of The First Tee and other junior golf programs, I enjoy staying connected to the game.
 
More importantly, I enjoy finding ways to give back to the game that has given my family and me so much.
 
PEACEFUL AUGUSTA:
Adam Scott might love going to Augusta National more than the Masters.
 
Scott joined swing coach Butch Harmon, Fred Couples and Nick Watney for a day of practice two weeks ago, and he has never seen Augusta National more glorious. They stayed Sunday night in one of the cabins and had breakfast in the clubhouse.
 
I thought we were staying in the Motel 6 down the road for a night, Scott said. Stephens Cabin treated me well. And the best thing about it was Freddie stayed in the cabin with me. They were taking our bags in and said, Heres your room, Mr. Couples. Ill just put the bags in here. The green jacket is in the closet for you.
 
Couples, who won the Masters in 1992, can only wear his green jacket on the property.
 
Scott will never forget the first time he saw Augusta National, stunned at how open it was without fairways framed by thousands of people. There is an empty triangle between the eighth, ninth and 18th fairways.
 
Its completely different. Its beautiful when its empty, he said. I was walking from the cabin at 7:30 a.m. to the clubhouse to have breakfast, and it was so peaceful. Its a beautiful place. I cant imagine what its like to have that opportunity once in a while.
 
MONTY MUSINGS:
Colin Montgomerie will not be going to the Masters for only the second time in the last 17 years, because he was not among the top finishers in the majors last year and failed to crack the top 50 in the world ranking.
 
And then theres his birthplace.
 
In an interview with The Independent newspaper in Britain, the scowling Scot poked fun at Augusta National for its eligibility and said the club panders to Asian players because of its television markets.
 
The Masters offered special foreign invitations earlier this year to Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, Liang Wen-hong of China and Jeev Milkha Singh of India. All are ranked below Montgomerie, who is No. 75.
 
There has been no call from Augusta and I am not expecting one, Montgomerie said. Now, if I were the only person in the country, a la China, I might get in. It is a strange way to make up a field for a major championship' television rights. They are quite open about why.
 
He noted that the last time he missed the Masters, in 2005, the club took Shingo Katayama because of Japanese TV rights.
 
And they have done the same with Thailand and China this time, Monty said. I am not the only one who feels that way and not just because I am not in. In or not, Id be saying the same thing. It is a strange criterion to pick a major field.
 
It would be easier to swallow if no one was invited, and it was done on sporting and not commercial criteria.
 
Montgomerie has only one top 10 in his 15 appearances at the Masters, and he had missed the cut five of his last six tries.
 
DIVOTS:
Lucas Glover is the only player from the Presidents Cup team in September who did not qualify for the Masters. Billy Mayfair will be making his 600th career start this week at the Shell Houston Open. Annika Sorenstam is steadily regaining her consistency. Along with a victory in Hawaii, the former No. 1 player is the only LPGA player to have broken par in all 14 rounds this year.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Ten players have won the last 10 majors on the LPGA Tour.
 
FINAL WORD:
'Guys arent going to shoot 30 on the back nine. You cant reach all the greens in 30.'Scott Verplank on how much tougher the Masters has become with a longer course.
 

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Kraft Nabisco Championship
  • Full Coverage - Shell Houston Open