Trophy Traded for Cap and Gown

By George WhiteMay 24, 2005, 4:00 pm
Paula Creamer wont be playing in the LPGAs Corning Classic this week. You see, she has rather pressing business she has to take care of Thursday at 11 oclock. Its a matter of ' well, high school graduation.
Creamer is the winner of last weeks Sybase Classic. Not since Marlene Hagge in 1952 has someone so young (18) won. Creamer cant rent a car for several years yet. And until Thursday, she cant even claim to be a high school graduate.
Paula Creamer
Paula Creamer's win moved her into 4th place on the LPGA Money list.
But, she is a professional tournament winner! Shes going back to Bradenton, Fla., for the senior banquet before the graduation exercise Thursday. Maybe she will be voted by her classmates at the Pendleton School as most likely to succeed. Oh wait - she already has succeeded!
Paula babbled on like a regular high school girl when discussing it. It's so exciting. There's not enough words to explain, she said. I can't speak, let alone think. It's awesome. There's so much energy coming out of me right now.
Lets see ' she won the LPGA Qualifying School Tournament by five shots in the fall when she had just turned 18. But while still a student at the David Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton last summer, Creamer played in the U.S. Womens Open and finished a very impressive 13th. And she almost won last year while an amateur, finishing only one shot behind winner Cristie Kerr at the ShopRite Classic.
This year? The kid has made the cut in nine of 10 events and had a T3 finish earlier this year before her victory. And she still is looking forward to her graduation? After winning in New York, her high school ceremonies are still this meaningful?
Graduation is - well, that's hard to say, because graduation was just a completion of part of my life. And this, I hope, keeps going on-and-on kind of thing, Paula says.
I'm very proud that I am graduating and I'm very proud that I'm going home for that. But I'm also very proud of winning. It's hard to say, but this has been fun.
High school classes for Creamer ended in January. She worked extra hard to come out on the tour early. Her mother and father are going everywhere with her this rookie season ' remember, she isnt even allowed to rent a car.
And if anyone still believes that she is too young to turn pro, that the constant pressure on her is too much for a girl ' well, this should disprove such thinking. Certainly there are some young ladies who are not too young, as long as their parents are such an integral part of their travel and new life.
Actually, young people are at Pendleton hoping to become stars in tennis, basketball, soccer and other sports. All are hoping to win. Some have made it extremely big while teen-agers. Paula is curious ' she wonders what its like to be a child prodigy in these other sports.
With tennis players, I would like to know what it's like with them, with that being competitive out there, she mused. Maria Sharapova went to the Academy, as well. So there's a lot of people in common. We talk about it in different totally, you know, just off the golf course or off the tennis course or whatever.
Sharapova, incidentally another 18-year-old, has already won Wimbledon. She is probably the most famous Pendleton student. But Paula wont be far behind if she keeps this winning thing going. Pendleton, by the way, isnt your average high school. But for Creamer, it has been the ticket to a champions way of life.
I think for me it's normal, she said of her days at the school, then suddenly becoming a sports professional. 'But I think for anybody else, it's far from normal. It works with my schedule and it's all I'm used to. I think the other kids who don't go to academies and things like that, their life is normal. But to the normal 18 year old, it's definitely not the same.
Well, what is normal? And should any 18-year-old be subjected to such pressures as professional sports?
I've been asked this question a couple of times, began Creamer. I think if the person feels prepared for it - I'm 18, a lot of people feel that's way too young.
But I feel I'm ready for this and this is what I want to do. But I don't necessarily know in other sports. All I know is this one right now, golf, and I can only comment on that. I think if the person is prepared and this is what they want to do, so be it.
Paula has learned to live with pressure, to become accustomed to a life of competition. She is wise beyond her years on such matters. Be it best teenager, best American, best whatever ' she wants the heat turned all the way up.
I thrive off of pressure, she claims. It makes me practice harder. It makes me try to represent my country more, everything now, I hope that some day I can help other junior girls to get involved with golf.
Oh ' she got the perfunctory champagne douse after her win at Sylbase. I dont care if she is a kid, she wasnt going to escape the champagne spray. How did she like it?
Terrible, she said abruptly. It got in my eye. It was awful. I smell like it and it's not so good right now.
Hey - at least it's on me.
As opposed to, say, inside her. Tsk tsk ' after all, she isnt yet even out of high school. Not for a few hours, anyway.
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DeChambeau on rough: 'Never encountered something that thick'

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 20, 2018, 10:52 pm

ATLANTA – Bryson DeChambeau seems like he’s prepared for any and every circumstance golf can bring him. But he wasn’t ready for East Lake’s rough in Rd. 1 of the Tour Championship.

“[T]he rough is brutal out there. I've never encountered something that thick,” he said. “It's a zoysia and Bermuda blend, and new conditions for me again.”

DeChambeau hit six of 14 fairways in the first round. He made two double bogey on his way to a front-nine 39, but recovered with three birdies on the back to finish at 1-over 71.

When you don’t hit fairways, you don’t hit greens at East Lake. It’s what Tiger Woods said after his opening 65, in which he hit 10 fairways. DeChambeau learned that the hard way on Thursday.

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“If I would have drove it a little bit better it would have been fine,” he said. “I drove it well enough to shoot even par, but those chip shots around the greens. I mean, I couldn’t believe some of the lies I drew around the green. It was near impossible to judge and understand. Really penalizing. It was like hitting it in the water and kind of frustrating.”

DeChambeau started the FedExCup finale in first place in the standings, thanks to wins in the first two playoff events. He’s now projected fourth. But, he’s only six shots off the lead and five back of the current projected winner, Justin Rose.

“You're never out of it. I've got 54 holes left. You know, a lot of golf to be played,” he said. “And if I get my game going, if I get my driving in the right direction, watch out.”

Second-round tee times for the Tour Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 10:29 pm

Tiger Woods will go out last and Phil Mickelson will go out first in Rd. 2 of the Tour Championship.

Woods and Rickie Fowler share the 18-hole lead. The field is re-paired after each round, according to their scores. Here’s a look at second-round tee times at East Lake Golf Club.

(All times ET)

11:40AM: Phil Mickelson (+3), Keegan Bradley (+3)

11:50AM: Patrick Reed (+3), Marc Leishman (+2)

Noon: Hideki Matsuyama (+2), Kevin Na (+2)

12:10PM: Billy Horschel (+1), Bryson DeChambeau (+1)

12:20PM: Patton Kizzire (+1), Patrick Cantlay (+1)

12:30PM: Cameron Smith (Even), Bubba Watson (Even)

12:40PM: Aaron Wise (Even), Francesco Molinari (Even)

12:50PM: Brooks Koepka (-1), Dustin Johnson (-1)

1PM: Tommy Fleetwood (-1), Webb Simpson (-1)

1:10PM: Jason Day (-2), Kyle Stanley (-1)

1:20PM: Jon Rahm (-2), Xander Schauffele (-2)

1:30PM: Tony Finau (-3), Paul Casey (-2)

1:40PM: Rory McIlroy (-3), Justin Thomas (-3)

1:50PM: Gary Woodland (-4), Justin Rose (-4)

2PM: Rickie Fowler (-5), Tiger Woods (-5)

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Woods makes plenty of noise with 65 at East Lake

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 10:24 pm

ATLANTA – Midway through Rickie Fowler’s post-round media obligations he was interrupted by a thunderous roar that echoed across East Lake.

“I don't know who it was. I just heard the roar,” Fowler said. Pressed on who might have caused such a distinct reaction, he shrugged, “no.”

There was a time when only one player prompted that kind of raucous response from the masses, but in Fowler’s defense it’s been a while.

Tiger Woods always cast an easily recognizable shadow over the game. The signature red and black wardrobe combination on Sundays, the savage fist pumps and emotional outburst, even the steely glare. It was all so unmistakable.

But for PGA Tour players of a certain age those moments are from another era, folklore stuff that veterans talk about, which at least partially explains Fowler’s confusion.

The current generation has repeatedly said that they would cherish the chance to compete against Tiger at his best, to hear those roars and feel those moments. The 14-time major champion isn’t there yet, but as his 28-footer for eagle at the last hole on Thursday at the Tour Championship trundled to the hole and ignited the gallery it was something of an “aha moment.”

So that’s what greatness sounds like.

Woods finished his day at the finale with a closing nine of 31 after a slow start and was tied with Fowler atop the season-ending leaderboard at 5 under par. He’s been in this position before from Tampa to St. Louis and was equally impressive two weeks ago at the BMW Championship when he opened with a first-round 62 for a share of the lead.

But Thursday at East Lake felt different. It felt better.

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“This was by far better than the 62 at [the BMW Championship],” said Woods, who is playing at East Lake for the first time since 2013. “Conditions were soft there. It's hard to get the ball close here. There's so much chase in it. If you drive the ball in the rough, you know you can't get the ball close.”

A better comparison might be his closing 64 at the PGA Championship, it was certainly louder, yet there was something complete and clinical about his 65 at East Lake.

On Wednesday Tiger talked of getting all of the parts of his game to fall into place at one time. When he’s driven the ball well, his putting has been off. When he putted well, his driving has let him down. You know, golf.

On Thursday he had the look of a complete golfer, a five-tool player whose only limitation was running out of holes. Statistically he finished inside the top 10 in strokes gained: off the tee (eighth), tee to green (third), fairways hit (fourth), driving distance (eighth), greens in regulation (fifth), proximity to the hole (sixth), scrambling (first) and strokes gained: putting (eighth).

“I felt in control today,” Woods said without even trying to hide the knowing smile that inched across his face. “I had a lot of control over my shots.”

Woods has said all season that as long as he’s healthy he was confident he’d figure out a way to be competitive. Although he said his plan starting the year was to put himself in contention and win, he also acknowledged that starting out the year he wasn’t sure how he was going to do that.

“The objective is to always win, but how am I going to do it when I had no game at the beginning of the year? Somehow I've got to find a way to piece it together and give myself a chance with what little game I had,” he said.

Woods’ march back to competitive relevance has seemed meteoric at times, particularly when you consider that at this juncture last year he still wasn’t sure if his surgically repaired back could withstand the rigors of Tour life.

He’s pieced together a game, swapping putters and drivers at regular clips this season in an attempt to match a new swing with a newly healthy body, and he’s put himself in contention. Getting that elusive victory would be the last piece of the puzzle, but he knows he’s on the clock with 54 holes remaining in his season.

There was a time when Tiger’s name atop the leaderboard was a reason for the field to take notice even on Day 1. That piece of his aura has also been elusive, but much like that 80th Tour victory that part of his mystique could also be within sight.

Fowler won’t have any problem deciphering roars on Friday when he’ll be paired with Woods in the day’s final group, it’s what he and the other members of the current generation have pined for and one of the final pieces of Tiger’s comeback.

“I've had the opportunity before, and I definitely am in a lot better position now than I was in the early part of my career,” said Fowler, who has been paired with Woods a dozen times in his Tour career. “There is a little bit of a comfort level that you have to get used to playing alongside him, especially in a big situation, in a final group. No, I look forward to it now.”

This is what everyone looked forward to, for those roars to be as distinctive as the man who has produced so many in his career.

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FedExCup projected standings after Rd. 1 of Tour Championship

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 20, 2018, 10:13 pm

ATLANTA – Bryson DeChambeau started the week in the No. 1 spot in the FedExCup standings. But after the first round of the Tour Championship, he’s surrendered his lead.

Justin Rose, the current world No. 1, is the new projected winner of the $10 million bonus. Rose shot 4-under 66 in the first round and is tied for third in the tournament. He began the week in second place in the FEC standings.

DeChambeau struggled to a 1-over 71 and is currently tied for 21st in the field of 30.

Here’s a look at the projected standings after 18 holes at East Lake Golf Club, which includes Tiger Woods jumping from No. 20 to No. 2.

FedExCup Rank PLAYER NAME FedExCup Points
1 2 Justin Rose 2450
2 20 Tiger Woods 2219
3 23 Rickie Fowler 2182
4 1 Bryson DeChambeau 2160
5 3 Tony Finau 1920
6 5 Justin Thomas 1680
7 4 Dustin Johnson 1528
8 6 Keegan Bradley 1238
9 7 Brooks Koepka 1192
10 8 Bubba Watson 992
11 9 Billy Horschel 800
12 28 Gary Woodland 783
13 12 Jason Day 678
14 10 Cameron Smith 672
14 17 Rory McIlroy 672
16 11 Webb Simpson 616
17 18 Xander Schauffele 561
18 13 Francesco Molinari 544
19 24 Jon Rahm 480
20 19 Tommy Fleetwood 463
21 26 Paul Casey 461
22 14 Phil Mickelson 454
23 16 Patrick Cantlay 453
24 15 Patrick Reed 450
25 21 Aaron Wise 398
26 25 Kyle Stanley 393
27 22 Kevin Na 330
28 27 Hideki Matsuyama 278
29 30 Patton Kizzire 275
30 29 Marc Leishman 242