The Young and the Restless


Annika Sorenstam defends this week at the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic. No question shes the best player on the LPGA.
Given the Solheim Cup theater we witnessed last week, Im still convinced shes the player to beat in any tournament she plays. But is she still the undisputed star of the ladies game?
Somehow Paula Creamers name has really become the hot button for LPGA discussion. She made the claim that the USA would win, and they did. She played a huge role in that win, including a 7 and 5 dusting of the great Laura Davies in the Sunday singles matches. (By the way, Creamer is paired with Davies off the 10th tee in Round 1.)
Paula Creamer
Rookie Paula Creamer has taken the LPGA by storm in 2005.
At age 19, Creamer might be too young to know what shes saying at times, but her youth might just be what allows her to back it up. No fear. Creamer might not yet be the best player on the LPGA, but you could make the argument that she is the top draw at this weeks event.
Now we see what Creamer can do with her new status as the It Girl. How many wins before years end. Perhaps the ADT Championship to cap off her rookie season? Creamer, in my mind, has a huge opportunity the rest of the year to set the tone for next years LPGA majors.
Annika began 2005 saying it was her goal to win all four major championships in one year. She fell short. Now, I have a question for you. Does she have a fighting chance to accomplish that goal with Creamer in the mix? You tell me.
Mark Calcavecchia won last weeks Bell Canadian Open. A hearty congrats to Calc for getting back into the winners circle after a four-year drought. Calcavecchia became the seventh 40-something to win this season on the PGA Tour. At 45 years of age, he also became the oldest to win the Bell Canadian Open.
I talked with Mark early this season at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He told me he actually doubted hed get the 12th PGA Tour title he coveted. Watching players like Tiger and Vijay and Ernie and Phil, Calc thought he had to be too perfect to piece together a victory run. True, Tiger and Ernie and Phil were not in the field at Vancouver, but Calcavecchia found the winning formula on a tough course when many ' perhaps Calc himself included ' thought it might have been a tall order.
Mark finds his way to Kapalua once again. And I think thats great. I dont really care whos in the field. To win is to win. And to me, a Mark Calcavecchia win is a good thing for the PGA Tour. A likeable guy, a man with a major, a man with Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup experience deserves a pat on the back from golf fans.
But I ask you. is it good enough to garner your respect if the biggest names werent challenging him down the stretch? Calc was a restless player closer to the Champions Tour than to his form of old. Would you have rather seen him limp towards 50 or rebound to make his name commonplace once again?
Mark O Meara held a share of the lead after Day 1 at the 84 Lumber Classic. How do you feel about OMeara? Another man approaching the Champions Tour, Mark is 48 years old and deserving of respect for a career that included two majors in one year (1998) after he turned 40 years old.
How good would it be if OMeara were to catch lightning in the bottle this week and make it two straight 40-somethings holding trophies?
Sure, OMeara isnt the consistent force that he might have been a few years ago. But I think a win would be great for the PGA Tour. Proof yet again that these guys are good no matter what the birth certificate tells us.
Age is nothing more than a number. Doing it well at 19 ' some would say ' is just as improbable as doing it well at 45 or 48.
But isnt that the beauty of golf? Isnt that the intrigue of the professional game? Isnt a story or two like this great for headlines and copy when there are no majors left and there isnt always a Tiger, Phil or Ernie in the mix?

You tell me.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann