Rivalry in the Making Wie vs Creamer


LPGA logo for LeaderboardsMichelle Wie and Paula Creamer are as different as oil and vinegar.
Wie, a 15-year-old amateur, is tall, lanky and has a goal of teeing it up with the men in Augusta, Ga. Creamer, an 18-year-old professional, drapes herself in pink and has her sights set 'only' on dominating all of women's golf.
Both are driven to be the best in the world, but the paths that each have chosen could not be more different than if Robert Frost had described them himself.
Wie's name has been a fixture in the golf world since she set an LPGA record by qualifying for an event as a 12-year-old. Like the 6-foot prodigy herself, the prominence that follows her has grown leaps and bounds every year. She is a sponsor's exemption dream and is a guaranteed success at the gate. Wie's 300-yard drives cause grown men to shake their heads in awe and young girls to think big.
Her amateur career has been dissected in more ways than a formaldehyde frog in Honolulu's Punahou High's biology lab. At the end of the examination, Wie is most often held under the microscope for the national tournaments she has not won than the one she has, the 2003 U.S. Women's Amateur Publinx.
Creamer is on the other end of the microscope; all she has done is win.
During her amateur career, she won 11 national tournaments on the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) circuit, was the country's top-ranked junior and was named the 2003 AJGA Player of the Year. She parlayed that success into making seven out of seven cuts on the LPGA Tour last year and then earned medalist honors by a dominating five strokes at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament Presented by American Airlines to become the early favorite for the 2005 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award.
The comparisons and differences between the two teen phenoms has played out in sports pages across the country, but this week, as Creamer begins her professional career and as Wie adds another chapter to her ever-growing amateur resume, they meet for the first time in 2005.
This is not the first time the two have played in the same event, but it may be the most telling in who has the leg up in achieving her goals. Wie and Creamer teamed together in 2004 to help lead the United States Curtis Cup Team to victory and have played in four of the same LPGA events.
Wie has fared better in three of those tournaments, but it's Creamer who has tasted more success on the LPGA Tour. Her runner-up finish at last year's ShopRite LPGA Classic outdoes Wie's career-best fourth-place finish at the
2004 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
The duo shared low amateur honors, tying for 13th, at last year's U.S.
Women's Open conducted by the USGA, which only added more fuel to the fire of a budding rivalry. Wie and Creamer shrug off the rivalry talk like yesterday's school-yard gossip, but as the future torch bearers of the game, it is in every 3-wood, 7-iron and 20-foot birdie putt whether they like it or not.
'I mean, if she's competition, she's competition,' Creamer said at last year's Wendy's Championship for Children. 'When you win a tournament, you beat everybody in the field. If that's going to happen, we'll see.'
Wie countered with, 'I'm not really sure if there's going to be a rivalry or not. I'm not going to think about it. I'm not really sure what's going to happen,' at the Wendy's, where she tied for sixth and Creamer tied for 18th.
But look back a little further and it's evident that there is a rivalry. It was only two years ago when the media's constant admiration of Wie at the
2003 U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA got the best of Creamer.
'It gets old,' Creamer said at the time. 'You look everywhere, and there she is. I play against the best juniors in the world, and she's just another junior. I don't place her on a higher plateau.'
Two years later and an LPGA runner-up finish in the bag, is Creamer still dismayed at her lack of media attention as compared to Wie?
'I took second in an LPGA event, and it really wasn't that much of a big deal,' Creamer said last year of her ShopRite LPGA Classic finish. 'But I guess I think it's better for me to kind of hang under the radar and every once in a while I pop up.'
Did Wie take notice of Creamer's success?
'I really wanted her to win [the ShopRite],' said Wie at the 2004 U.S.
Women's Open. 'It was really good. I didn't see her play, because the U.S.
Open was that week. But it was really good for her.'
Creamer and Wie are teenagers who couldn't be more different, but when compared to each other form a complimentary face that is firmly attached to the changing world of women's golf.