Creamer Wins Playoff Over Inkster

By Associated PressMay 4, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 SemGroup ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Paula Creamer squandered another late lead and fell into a playoff she didnt want. She got the result she desperately needed, beating Juli Inkster on the second extra hole Sunday in the SemGroup Championship.
 
One week after losing to Annika Sorenstam in a playoff, Creamer bogeyed the 18th hole at Cedar Ridge for the third straight day and wound up in overtime when the 47-year-old Inkster, trying to become the oldest LPGA Tour winner, poured in an 18-foot birdie putt.
 
Instead of getting nervous, Creamer was determined as ever.
 
I was not going to lose this week, she said. I was going to win the tournament.
 
She twice gave herself birdie putts in the playoff, making an 8-footer on No. 10 for the victory.
 
Lost in a terrific duel was the end of Lorena Ochoas winning streak. Going for a record-tying fifth straight victory, Ochoa never got on track, even in a final round absent of much wind. She closed with a 2-under 69 to tie for fifth, five shots behind.
 
Its done, Ochoa said. I tried really hard and it didnt work. Hopefully, Ill start a new streak next week.
 
Creamer was headed for the worst kind of streak.
 
She said she gave away the Stanford International Pro-Am last week in south Florida, losing the lead with a careless bogey on the 16th hole and losing to Sorenstam with a bogey on the first playoff hole when she left a 6-foot par putt short.
 
Creamer was a combined 6 over on her final three holes at Cedar Ridge this week, and looked as if she finally figured out how to finish it off until a 5-iron from the 18th fairway sailed over the green and she missed a 10-foot par putt to shoot 1-over 72.
 
Inkster, who hasnt won in two years, made her longest putt of the day for a 70, and both finished at 2-under 282.
 
But the seven-time major champion never gave herself a good look in the two playoff holes, and watching Creamer make birdie on the 10th hole was bittersweet. Earlier in the round, Inkster missed from about the same spot, one of five putts she missed inside 10 feet.
 
I never felt comfortable with the putter, Inkster said. Its funny how you can wake up and feel like you have a two-by-four in your hands instead of a putter. Its disappointing. I played good enough to win.
 
Creamer earned $270,000 for her sixth career victory, and second this year.
 
She almost let this one get away, twice three-putting for bogey, slamming the end of her putter into her bag after one on the 13th, then going over to a cart path and using a crease in the cement to check her alignment.
 
Eventually, it paid off. Theres no telling how Creamer would have responded to blowing tournaments in consecutive weeks, but she showed plenty of grit to make sure it didnt happen.
 
She definitely made me win it, Creamer said. Im done. Im mentally done right now.
 
Ochoas bid to join Nancy Lopez and Sorenstam with her fifth straight LPGA Tour victory never got off the ground. She broke par at Cedar Ridge for the first time all week, but starting eight shots behind, it wasnt even close. She had to settle for her eighth consecutive top 10.
 
I dont know why, but this was a tough course for me, especially on the greens, Ochoa said. Its the way it is. Its golf. But Im happy. I look forward to the next week.
 
Despite a welcome respite from the whipping wind that made Cedar Ridge a little more forgiving, no one challenged the final pairing. Creamer and Inkster put on quite a show, right to the very end.
 
Creamer and Inkster both played the front nine in even par, but there were momentum shifts at every turn, including two-shot swings on consecutive holes that created a brief tie for the lead.
 
Inkster had a chance to tie for the lead on the fifth until missing a 4-foot birdie putt. One hole later, she fell two shots behind when she chipped weakly and missed a 6-foot par putt. Creamer gave it right back, however, when she three-putted the seventh after Inkster hit her approach into 3 feet.
 
But on the next hole, Inkster hooked her tee shot into the hazard and had to get up-and-down from 40 yards for bogey, while Creamers 7-iron grazed the cup and settled 18 inches away.
 
They settled down with pars after that until Creamer showed some resiliency. After a three-putt bogey on the 13th, she hit a sand wedge to 3 feet for birdie on the 14th, restoring her lead to two shots until the 18th.
 
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