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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Arizona caps an improbable journey with a title

By Ryan LavnerMay 24, 2018, 3:49 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – Five hours before the final match at the NCAA Women’s Championship, Arizona coach Laura Ianello sat cross-legged on a couch in the Holiday Inn lobby and broke down four times in a half-hour interview.

It’s been that kind of exhausting season.

From poor play to stunning midseason defections to a stroke-play collapse, Ianello has felt uneasy for months. She has felt like she was losing control. Felt like her carefully crafted roster was coming apart.

So to even have a chance to win a NCAA title?

“I know what this team has gone through,” she said, beginning to tear up, “and you don’t get these opportunities all the time. So I want it for them. This could be so life-changing for so many of them.”

A moment that seemed impossible six months ago became reality Wednesday at Karsten Creek.

Arizona continued its magical run through the match-play bracket and knocked off top-ranked Alabama to capture its third NCAA title, with junior Haley Moore – who first rose to fame by making the cut at an LPGA major as a 16-year-old – rolling in a 4-footer to earn the clinching point in extra holes.

All throughout nationals Arizona was fueled by momentum and adrenaline, but this was no Cinderella squad. The Wildcats were ranked ninth in the country. They won twice this spring. They had four medalists. They were one of the longest-hitting teams in the country.

But even before a miracle end to NCAA stroke play, Arizona needed some help just to get here.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, texted Ianello that she was turning pro. It may have been a gift to her parents, for their years of sacrifice, but it was a lump of coal in Ianello’s stocking.

“I was absolutely heartbroken,” she said. “It was devastating.”

Even more bad news arrived a few weeks later, when junior Gigi Stoll told Ianello that she was unhappy, homesick and wanted to return to Portland, Ore. Just like that, a promising season had gone off the rails.

Ianello offered her a full release, but Stoll looked around, found no other suitors and decided to remain with the team – as long as she signed a contract of expected behavior.

“It was the most exhausting two months of my life,” Ianello said. “We care so much about these freakin’ girls, and we’re like, Come on, this is just a small, little picture of your life, so you don’t realize what you’re possibly giving up. It’s so hard to see that sometimes.”

Stoll eventually bought in, but the rest of the team was blindsided by Quihuis’ decision.

“We became even more motivated to prove we were a great team,” said junior Bianca Pagdanganan.

It also helped that Yu-Sang Hou joined the squad in January. The morale immediately improved, not least because the players now could poke fun at Hou; on her fourth day on campus she nearly burned down the dorm when she forgot to add water to her mac-and-cheese.

Early on Ianello and assistant Derek Radley organized a team retreat at a hotel in Tucson. There the players created Oprah-inspired vision boards and completed exercises blindfolded and delivered 60-second speeches to break down barriers. At the end of the session, they created T-shirts that they donned all spring. They splashed “The Great Eight” on the front, put the state of Arizona and each player’s country of origin on the sleeves, and on the back printed their names and a slogan: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

“I can’t think of anything else that better embodies this team,” Radley said.

This spring, they rallied together and finished no worse than fourth in a tournament. Through three rounds of stroke play here at the NCAA Championship, they used their distance advantage and sat third in the standings. Then they shot 17 over par in the final round, tumbling outside the top-8 cut line.

They were down to their final chance on the 72nd hole, needing an eagle to tie, as Pagdanganan lined up her 30-footer. She dramatically drained the putt, then gathered her teammates on the range.

“This means we were meant to be in the top 8,” she said. Less than an hour later, they beat Baylor in the team playoff to earn the last match-play berth.

Ianello was so amped up from the frenetic finish that she slept only three hours on Monday night, but they continued to roll and knocked off top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals, beating a pair of Player of the Year contenders, Lilia Vu and Patty Tavatanakit, in the process. In the afternoon semifinals, they jumped all over Stanford and won easily.

It was a cute story, the last team into the match-play field reaching the final match, but a stiffer challenge awaited the Wildcats Wednesday.

Alabama was the top-ranked team in the country. The Tide were a whopping 110 under par for the season, boasting three first-team All-Americans who were so dominant in their first two matches that they trailed for only two of the 99 holes they played.

Ianello already seemed to be bracing for the result on the eve of the final match.

“Win or lose,” she said, “this has been a hell of a ride.”

But their wild ride continued Wednesday, as Hou won four holes in a row to start the back nine and defeat Alabama’s best player, Lauren Stephenson, who had the best single-season scoring average (69.5) in Division I history.

Then sophomore Sandra Nordaas – the main beneficiary after Quihuis left at the midway point of the season – held on for a 1-up victory over Angelica Moresco.

And so Arizona’s national-title hopes hinged on the success of its most mercurial player, Moore. In the anchor match against Lakareber Abe, Moore jumped out to a 2-up lead at the turn but lost the first three holes on the back nine.

By the time Radley sped back to help Moore, in the 12th fairway, she was frazzled.

“But seeing me,” Radley said, “I saw a sense of calm wash over her.”

Moore played solidly for the rest of the back nine and took a 1-up lead into the home hole. She didn’t flinch when Abe hit one of the shots of the entire championship – a smoked 3-wood to 12 feet to set up a two-putt birdie and force extras – and then gave herself 4 feet for the win on the first playoff hole. She sank the putt and within seconds was mobbed by her teammates.

In the giddy aftermath, Ianello could barely speak. She wandered around the green in a daze, looking for someone, anyone, to hug.

The most trying year of her career had somehow ended in a title.

“At some moments, it felt impossible,” she said. “But I underestimated these young women a little bit.”

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Pac-12 continues to dominate women's golf

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2018, 3:04 am

Arizona's national women's golf championship marked the fourth consecutive year in‌ which the women's Division I national title was won by a Pac-12 Conference team. All four championships were won by different schools (Stanford, 2015; Washington, 2016; Arizona State, 2017; Arizona, 2018). The Pac-12 is the only conference to win four straight golf championships (men or women) with four different schools.

Here are some other statistical notes from the just-concluded NCAA Div. I Women's Golf Championship:

• This is the second time that Arizona has won the national title the year after rival Arizona State won it. The last time was 1996.

• Arizona now has three women's golf national championships. The previous two came in 1996 and 2000.

• Arizona is only the sixth school to win three or more Div. I women's golf championships, joining Arizona State (8), Duke (6), San Jose State (3), UCLA (3) and USC (3).

• Arizona's Haley Moore, who earned the clinching point on the 19th hole of her match with Alabama's Lakareber Abe, was the only Arizona player to win all three of her matches this week.

• Alabama's Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight also went 3-0. Gillman did not trail in any match.

• Since the match-play format was instituted in 2015, Arizona is the lowest seed (8) to claim the national title. The seeds claiming the national championship were Stanford (4) in 2015; Washington (4) in 2016; and Arizona State (3) in 2017.

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High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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Watch: Pumped up Beef deadlifts 485 lbs.

By Grill Room TeamMay 24, 2018, 12:19 am

Andrew "Beef" Johnston has been playing some solid golf on the European Tour this season, and he is clearly pumped up for one of the biggest weeks of the year at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Judging from the video below, Beef will have no problems lifting the trophy on Sunday as he reportedly deadlifted 220 kg ... (Googles kilogram to pounds converter, enters numbers) ... that's 485 lbs!

@beefgolf with a new deadlift PB 220kg ! #youcantgowronggettingstrong

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