Two teens with bows still in their ponytails, showed why veteran American LPGA stars can finally heave a sigh of relief that help is on the way. Floridian Brittany Lincicome, 19, and Californian Paula Creamer, 18, put their prodigious talents on display this July at the U.S. Women's Open Championship, but this week, the pair found themselves neck-and-neck again in an altogether different forum.
It was the same game with the same matter of pride on the line. Each had competed in the Futures Tour event to prepare for the LPGA's final stage of Q- School, Dec. 1-5. And after 72 holes this week, both players shot even-par rounds of 72 and tied for first place at 9-under-par 279.
But Lincicome, two weeks into her professional career and already set on her career track, earned her first professional pay check (of $500) and kicked her pro start into motion. Creamer, still an amateur, gave herself one more of three possible options for 2005. She could earn her LPGA Tour card next month and turn professional to compete as an LPGA Tour member in 2005, or, if she misses, give herself the option of either staying amateur and playing college golf or turning professional and competing on the Futures Golf Tour next year.
'This is my last tournament before December and I'm not taking anything for granted,' said Creamer, a senior at Pendleton High School in Bradenton, Fla., and a student at the David Leadbetter Academy. 'Everybody wants to win, but this is all about getting a card.'
Sae Hee Son, a talented 19-year-old amateur from Seoul, was a model of consistency. Son hit 13 greens, 12 fairways and rolled in 28 putts for her 3-under-par 69 today for third place. The 2003 Korean National Team member said she was 'a little bit nervous' on the first hole, but it never showed.
Jeanne-Marie Busuttil of Chantilly, France, carded a 1-under 71 today to inch into fourth place at 4-under-par 284, followed by Christi Cano of San Antonio, Texas, who carded her own 71 to finish solo at 285 (-3).
But while there were solid chasers, the pair of teen leaders held a five-shot lead going into today's final round. From the start, they were largely facing off against each other.
'Any time you have Paula in the group, you know it's going to be competitive,' said Lincicome.
'We know each other pretty well because we've played together a lot,' added Creamer. 'But I don't think we've ever been in the final group together.'