American Youth Paint Bright Future

By Associated PressSeptember 6, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Solheim CupCARMEL, Ind. -- Paula Creamer could have passed for a schoolgirl at a pep rally.
 
Then again, that's what she was.
 
She sat on the grass with her legs crossed, in the front row, with a red, white and blue ribbon tied around her blonde ponytail and tiny American flags painted on both cheeks. She clapped and cheered when the U.S. team walked by during the Solheim Cup matches in Sweden.
 
Creamer was at Barseback Golf and Country Club as a member of the Junior Solheim Cup team, and still remembers seeing the fairways lined with fans waving their flags, mostly European blue with a circle of 12 gold stars.
 
``It was just so unreal to be in that crowd,'' she said.
 
Even more unreal was where she was Tuesday.
 
Creamer sat with teammate Natalie Gulbis, poised and confident with glitter on her navy blue Solheim Cup cap and her fingernails painted red, white and blue.

Creamer is a player, not a fan.
 
And the 19-year-old phenom already is the center of attention.
 
Hours after she became the youngest Solheim Cup player and the first LPGA Tour rookie to make the team, Creamer stood with her teammates -- some of them old enough to be her mother -- and was asked to say a few words.
 
``All I can say is that they better get ready, because they're going to get beat,'' she said of the Europeans. ``I'm laying it down. I'm very confident and I know we have a good team and the best captain that anyone can have.''
 
There were murmurs behind her, mostly from the older players who realized the headlines that would follow.
 
Creamer heard them, and didn't back down.
 
``What are you talking about? You don't want to win?'' she said. ``Come on.''
 
Creamer is one of three rookies on the U.S. team that will try to keep its record perfect on home soil and win back the Solheim Cup from Europe when the matches start Friday at Crooked Stick.
 
The others are 21-year-old Christina Kim and the 22-year-old Gulbis. They are the youth movement in American women's golf, and they could not have arrived at a better time.
 
It was only five years ago, when the United States lost at Loch Lomond, Juli Inkster considered what the future held and didn't like what she saw. International players were dominating the game. The American stars were approaching 40, if they weren't already there.
 
``I was like, ``Who's going to play?' There was no one out there,'' the 45-year-old Inkster said. ``I'm quite pleased we have some good, young players that can carry on that tradition. Younger players are stepping up. It used to be younger meant you were 25 or 26. Now it's 18 and 19.''
 
And more might be on the way.
 
Creamer saw the Junior Solheim Cup team getting ready for its match Tuesday. Among them was 17-year-old Morgan Pressel, the runner-up in the U.S. Women's Open who tied for fifth last week in the State Farm Rail. Over in Hawaii, 15-year-old Michelle Wie was contemplating turning pro.
 
Their time may come soon.
 
Right now, the focus falls on Creamer, who is enjoying the best rookie season by an American woman since 1984 when Inkster won two major championships.
 
Creamer won the Sybase Classic outside New York in May, then went home to Florida to go through high school graduation ceremonies. She didn't capture a major, but it felt like one when she beat one of the strongest fields of the year at the Evian Masters in France by eight shots.
 
She is third on the LPGA money list with over $1.2 million, already a record for a rookie. Clearly, she has come a long way from being a cheerleader in Sweden.
 
``When I was sitting on the greens watching them, it was more like, 'Wow, hopefully someday, that's where I want to be,''' Creamer said. ``Things have happened so fast, and I'm having so much fun and achieving some of my dreams and goals. And to finally get here, it's unreal.''
 
Pressure is usually a constant companion at the Solheim, especially for rookies.
 
Creamer didn't do herself any favors with her ``they're going to get beat'' comment about Europe. Some of the Europeans no doubt want to make her eat her words. And the brash talk only polished her star quality, so the American gallery is sure to have high expectations of Creamer.
 
``I like what she said. She's a rookie,'' Laura Davies of England said. ``She's a top quality player and she'll only get better. Why shouldn't she be confident? That's good. We're probably not going to say it because there's going to be 20,000 Americans screaming us down all week.''
 
And they'll be screaming for Creamer.
 
She wasn't about to back down.
 
``It's hard to take something back like that when I look at my team,'' Creamer said. ``I put the most pressure on myself. I'm very hard on myself. I expect perfection out there, and I'm going to go out and play good golf.''
 
Creamer and the other youngsters -- Cristie Kerr, 27, is playing in her third Solheim Cup and led the American points list this year -- might be the key to winning the cup. They are having a blast, and it can be infectious.
 
Led by Creamer, they offer a bright future for American golf, something Inkster, Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel might not have seen five years ago.
 
``She's riding a lot of confidence,'' Mallon said. ``She doesn't know anything but success.''
 
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    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

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    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”