Creamer looks for second consecutive major

By Doug FergusonJuly 28, 2010, 12:10 am

Ricoh Women

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Paula Creamer still plays with a bandage. What she no longer plays with is a burden.

Even though Creamer won’t turn 24 until a week from Thursday, after she returns from Royal Birkdale and the final LPGA major of the year, few other players so young have received so much scrutiny for failing to win a major.

At least that’s one question she won’t face this week at the Women’s British Open.

“No, I’m sure it will be, ‘Do you want to win two in a row?”’ Creamer said with an easy laugh just four days after her U.S. Women’s Open victory at Oakmont.

Paula Creamer
Paula Creamer has three consecutive top-10s at the Women's British Open. (Getty Images)
“I feel like my whole career, it’s always been about majors,” she said. “That was the one thing I didn’t have. And now that I do, I only want more. It’s like opening a can of worms. I can’t wait to play the British Open, because I know what it takes to win.”

Creamer endured some tough lessons along the way.

Three times she was poised to win the U.S. Open, the biggest stage in her sport, only to fall apart with bad swings or a bad decision. As an 18-year-old rookie, Creamer was one shot out of the lead going into the final round at Cherry Hills in 2005 when she closed with a 79. Two years ago, she was one shot behind and in the final group when she shot 41 on the front nine at Interlachen and had to rally for a 78.

Last year at Saucon Valley was the toughest to take. She can live with a bad swing. This was a bad decision. One shot behind going into the third round, she tried to drive the 10th green and wound up making triple bogey, sending her to a 79 and ending her hopes.

But she learned, just as Lorena Ochoa did before her.

On what is reputed to be the hardest golf course in America, with her left thumb bandaged from reconstructive surgery that kept her out four months, Creamer stuck to a conservative plan she cooked up with swing coach David Whelan. She never buckled until she had a four-shot victory at Oakmont.

That gives Creamer nine victories and a major. She has played on three winning Solheim Cup teams, losing only twice in 14 matches. That’s not a bad record for someone still only 23.

By her own admission, however, Creamer is an “old 23.”

She won her first LPGA event a week before going through high school graduation, and in her first Solheim Cup as an 18-year-old, she crushed Laura Davies (7 and 5) in an opening singles match that set the tone. Off the course, she is one of the most marketable players on the LPGA. Creamer has had to learn how to fit in with business executives at corporate outings.

“I think I am older than my age,” she said. “I had to grow up pretty fast. There are times when I’m a young 23, but on the golf course, I’ve definitely matured much faster than my age. But there’s still so much I have to learn.”

Greatness in women’s golf doesn’t wait very long.

Annika Sorenstam won the first of her 10 majors in her second year on tour. Se Ri Pak won two majors as a rookie. Karrie Webb won her first major in her fourth season on the LPGA, and then she had the career Grand Slam two years later.

Creamer is only 23, but this is her sixth year on tour. She risked getting left behind, especially with a thumb injury that caused her to wonder if her career was over much earlier than she had planned.

That’s why it was important to get that first major.

Equally important is where she goes from here. Creamer is No. 7 in the women’s world ranking, although No. 1 has never been so close. There is not a dominant player at the moment, not like Sorenstam when the ranking made its debut, or Ochoa who followed.

Three players have been No. 1 during the last three months – Jiyai Shin, Cristie Kerr and Ai Miyazato. It gives the LPGA something to talk about every time there’s a change at the top, but what it really needs is a veritable star.

It doesn’t hurt that Americans are starting to show up. Kerr won the LPGA Championship by 12 shots, and Creamer won at Oakmont by four shots. If an American wins at Royal Birkdale, it would be the first time since 1999 that a Yank captured three majors in a year.

“Right now, it’s going to be a battle,” Creamer said. “It’s going to take awhile for one person to dominate. We’ve got eight players, 10 players who can win every week. We’ve never had that. We’ve never had that strength. We had Annika dominate, Lorena dominate. This makes it exciting. But somebody has to push a little.”

Golf is always better off when the game is “King of the Hill” instead of “Musical Chairs.”

Creamer has talked about being No. 1 since she was a teenager and finished second to Sorenstam on the money list as a rookie. That seems like a long time ago. She needs to be a young 23.

“One person is going to have to branch out of that group and work harder than anybody,” Creamer said. “I want to be that person.”

 

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Davies headlines field at Senior LPGA at French Lick

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 14, 2018, 10:40 pm

Laura Davies will be looking to win her second senior major championship this year when she tees it up in Monday’s start of the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort in Indiana.

Davies, who won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in July, will join a field that includes fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Jan Stephenson, who was announced last week with Peggy Kirk Bell as the Hall’s newest members. Hall of Famers Juli Inkster and Hollis Stacy are also in the 54-hole event.

Trish Johnson is back to defend her title after winning the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship a year ago. Brandi Burton, Jane Geddes, Helen Alfredsson and Liselotte Neumann are also in the field of 81 players who will compete for a $600,000 purse, with $90,000 going to the winner.

Golf Channel will televise all three rounds live from 4-6 p.m. ET on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Langer (65) wins regular-season finale by six

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 10:07 pm

CARY, N.C. – Bernhard Langer ran away with the SAS Championship on Sunday to take the points lead into the PGA Tour Champions' Charles Schwab Cup playoffs

Langer shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 for a six-stroke victory in the regular-season finale.

''I just played very solid all day long,'' Langer said. ''Putted well, hit the ball where I was looking and did everything exceptionally well.''

The 61-year-old German star has 38 victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning this year near Houston. He has a record four victories after turning 60.

''I don't have anything to prove, but I still have golf,'' Langer said. ''I still want to improve my own game. I still want to play to the best Bernhard Langer can play. I don't think I need to prove anything, but I love competing, I love winning or being in the hunt. As long as I can do that, I think you're going to see me out here.''

Langer finished with a tournament-record 22-under 194 total at Prestonwood Country Club, the tree-lined layout softened by heavy rain Thursday from Hurricane Michael. He opened with a 62 on Friday to match Gene Sauers and Tom Lehman for the lead, and had a 67 on Saturday to remain atop the leaderboard with Sauers.


Full-field scores from the SAS Championship


''The 10 under was amazing,'' Langer said. ''I couldn't believe there were two other guys who shot 10 under.''

The four-time Charles Schwab Cup winner also won at Prestonwood in 2012.

''It's always fun to go back to where you've won before because you feel like you know how to play the course and you're somewhat comfortable and that's certainly the case here,'' Langer said. ''I've been probably 50, 70 times now around this golf course and I know how to play every hole.''

Scott Parel was second, closing with a double bogey for a 65.

''Bernhard is just in his own world this week,'' Parel said.

Jerry Kelly had a 68 to finish third at 15 under, and Lehman followed at 13 under after a 71.

Sauers shot a 75 to tie for fifth with Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) at 12 under.

The top 72 players in the Schwab Cup standings qualified for the playoffs, the three-event series that begins next week with the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va. Dan Forsman tied for 56th to jump from 74th to 72nd, edging John Huston for the final spot by $932. Huston tied for 46th.

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Pepperell captures British Masters, eyes Augusta

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 5:29 pm

WALTON HEATH, England -- Eddie Pepperell won his second European Tour title with a two-shot victory at the British Masters on Sunday and likely secured the even bigger prize of a place in next year's Masters at Augusta National.

The Englishman shot an even-par 72 and held off his playing partner, Sweden's Alexander Bjork (71), as the pair went to the 72nd hole at a wet and windy Walton Heath with Pepperell just a stroke in front.

Pepperell finished on 9-under 279.

Herbert Lucas (69) and Jordan Smith (73) were tied for third, another two shots behind Bjork.

English pair Sam Horsfield (69) and Tom Lewis (70) along with American Julian Suri (74) tied for fifth, one shot in front of tournament host Justin Rose (70).

The victory takes Pepperell into the world's top 35 and almost certainly secures a first appearance at Augusta in 2019. The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first major of the year in April.

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood (72) finished 2 under in a seven-way tie for ninth.


Full-field scores from the British Masters


A top-two finish on Sunday would have seen Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as No. 1 in September

Pepperell was ranked outside the top 500 as recently as May last year, but won the Qatar Masters in February and followed a runner-up finish in the Scottish Open with a tie for sixth in the British Open seven days later, carding a closing 67 at Carnoustie despite saying he had a hangover.

His three-shot overnight lead was down to a single stroke on Sunday when Bjork covered the front nine in 34 and Pepperell three-putted the ninth, the same hole where he enjoyed a spectacular hole-in-one on Thursday.

However, the 27-year-old Pepperell promptly holed his second shot to the 10th from 122 yards for an eagle to move three clear and a par save from off the green on the 14th looked to have sealed the win.

There was still time for some late drama, though, as Pepperell dropped shots on Nos. 15 and 16 to see his lead cut to a single shot, but Bjork bogeyed the 18th after driving into the heather and Pepperell saved par from a greenside bunker.

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Disappointed Sharma fades to T-10 at CIMB

By Will GrayOctober 14, 2018, 1:46 pm

For the second time this year, India's Shubankhar Sharma watched an opportunity for a breakthrough win turn into a learning experience.

Sharma burst onto the scene in March, taking a two-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-Mexico Championship only to fade to a tie for ninth. It was a similar story Sunday at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, where Sharma started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead but struggled to an even-par 72 that dropped him into a tie for 10th.

"Disappointing, not really happy with the way I finished," Sharma told reporters.


Full-field scores from CIMB Classic

CIMB Classic: Articles, photos and videos


The 22-year-old was 1 over for his first six holes, but he battled back with four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10 to get within three shots of eventual winner Marc Leishman. But his tee shot at the par-3 11th found the water, leading to the first of three straight bogeys that ended any hopes of victory.

"That was probably one of the worst swings of the day," Sharma said. "That 11th hole I think killed the momentum for me. A par there would have gone a long way, and I probably could have made more birdies after that."

Sharma remained optimistic this spring following his final-round fade in Mexico, and he retained a positive mindset despite a rough afternoon as he eyes upcoming starts at both the CJ Cup in South Korea and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

"Great experience. Very, very good to have two top-10s on the PGA Tour, so that's a good way of looking at it," he said. "Also, it pushes me to keep playing well. I feel like I have it in me to win out there on the PGA Tour, and I've given myself two opportunities. Game is in a decent place now."