Creamer Set for First Title Defense


2006 Sybase ClassicReturning to the Sybase Classic presented by Lincoln Mercury will be a memorable trip for 19-year-old Paula Creamer.
A successful 17-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole was all Creamer needed last year to become a Rolex First-Time Winner on the LPGA Tour, just four days before graduating from high school.
Paula Creamer
Paula Creamer is set to defend her title at the Sybase Classic, her first-ever win on the LPGA Tour.
Creamer went into the final round down by one-shot to leader Christina Kim. Kim could not hold on in the final round, as she opened with four bogeys on the front nine and finished fourth. Jeong Jang and 2002 winner Gloria Hee Jung Park also challenged Creamer, as they were all tied for the lead, but Creamer's birdie putt on 18 sealed the win.
Not only did Creamer notch her first victory on the LPGA Tour, at 18 years, 9 months and 17 days, she also made history, becoming the youngest winner of a multi-round event in the history of the LPGA. The win also propelled the 'Pink Panther' into an instant star on Tour and a role model to aspiring junior golfers, which is now apparent by the number of young girls dressed in pink attire 'like Paula' who can be seen each week at LPGA Tour events.
Creamer went on to have a remarkable 2005 season with 11 top-10 finishes, including another victory and four runner-ups. Her second win came at the Evian Masters, where she became the youngest and fastest player to reach $1 million in career earnings. Creamer ran away with the 2005 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race and finished second on the ADT Official Money List money list with $1,531,780, an LPGA record for the most money earned by a rookie. She also won two events on the Japan LPGA (JLPGA).
In her second year on Tour, Creamer has recorded four top-10 finishes in nine starts, which includes a tie for fourth at last week's Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill. She currently ranks 10th on the ADT Official Money List with $282,785 in earnings this season.
World No. 1 Annika Sorenstam also headlines the event and looks to challenge the 144-player field. Sorenstam makes her first appearance at the Sybase Classic presented by Lincoln Mercury since the 2002 season, when she finished third. A two-time winner at Wykagyl Country Club, Sorenstam recorded victories in 1998 and 2000 and also finished second in 1997.
Sorenstam, who currently ranks sixth on the money list with $475,311, has recorded one victory in 2006, at the MasterCard Classic Honoring Alejo Peralta, and three other top-six finishes in six starts.
Sorenstam has had a couple of extra days to prepare for the Sybase Classic presented by Lincoln Mercury after missing the cut at last week's Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill. It was Sorenstam's first missed cut since the 2002 Weetabix Women's British Open, a span of 68 events. It was also her first missed cut at a non-LPGA major since she failed to play the weekend at the 1994 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic. It was only her ninth missed cut on the LPGA Tour.
The Swede joins 65 other international players who represent 22 countries outside of the United States at this week's event. One of those players is Lorena Ochoa, who has competed in nine events this year and has one win and five runner-up finishes. The star from Mexico ranks second on the ADT Official Money List to Karrie Webb with $919,888 in earnings. Webb is not playing this week, so Ochoa could become the first player this year to eclipse the $1 million mark.
Seven past winners of the tournament will compete for the $1.3 million purse, including two-time winners Sorenstam and Sherri Steinhauer, along with Beth Daniel, Hee-Won Han, Juli Inkster, Park and Michele Redman.
LPGA Tour rookies Ashley Hoagland and Sarah Jane Kenyon are the sponsor exemptions for this week's Sybase Classic presented by Lincoln Mercury. Kenyon will make her first LPGA Tour start while Hoagland will make her second appearance after playing two weeks ago at the Franklin American Mortgage Championship benefiting the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.
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