Creamer selection could define Inkster's captaincy

By Randall MellAugust 25, 2015, 12:23 pm

Juli Inkster believes in Paula Creamer.

Inkster showed that in an act of faith Monday, naming Creamer one of her two U.S. Solheim Cup captain’s picks. With Creamer slumping of late, Inkster’s choice comes with heightened scrutiny, even with all the success Creamer has had over the years, running up a 12-6-5 record in five Solheim Cups.

Inkster’s faith in Creamer is the kind of heavily weighted tactical choice that might well define her captaincy.

That’s often the way it is when a player with a profile as high as Creamer’s is a captain’s pick. Creamer might have slid to No. 40 in the world rankings this week, but she remains one of the game’s biggest stars, still one of the biggest names in golf.

We’ve been here before, seeing the most scrutinized captain’s picks shape outcomes and career paths almost before competitions begin. These bold choices can go a number of ways.



Back at the Presidents Cup in 2009, Greg Norman chose a struggling Adam Scott as one of his captain’s picks. Norman’s act of faith didn’t produce a victory for his Internationals, but it sparked a resurgence in Scott, paving the way to his ascendance as a major champion and as the world’s No. 1-ranked player.

In the 2009 Solheim Cup, Beth Daniel made rookie Michelle Wie a controversial captain’s pick, taking heat from critics who didn’t think Wie deserved the selection. Wie rose to the occasion. She went 3-0-1 and helped the Americans win at Rich Harvest Farms.

Back at the Ryder Cup in 1995, the outcome wasn’t so favorable for Lanny Wadkins, who made a captain’s pick of Curtis Strange, believing his friend’s leadership and experience would help the Americans despite Strange being six years removed from his last victory. It backfired. Strange went 0-3 and lost a decisive singles match to Nick Faldo with Europe winning the cup by a single point.

There’s no telling how Inkster’s faith in Creamer will play out, whether it’s a decisive choice or not, but Inkster knows there’s going to be extra pressure on Creamer being a pick.

That’s among reasons Inkster and Creamer huddled in a bar/restaurant near Vancouver Golf Club on Saturday night, after Creamer missed the cut at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open.

“Being a captain’s pick, there’s going to be more pressure on her,” Inkster said. “I told her that. I said, ‘You think there was pressure on you trying to make the team? It’s going to be 10 times that over there because you’re a captain’s pick.’ I’ve played as a captain’s pick, and it’s the hardest thing to do. I had to know she would be ready for that. She told me she was ready.”

Creamer told Inkster more than that.

“She has a lot of confidence in herself, and that’s what I wanted to hear,” Inkster said. “When I left, I had an awesome feeling she was ready to go.”

There are 12 Americans Inkster is assigning the task of winning the Solheim Cup. Of course, it isn’t all on Creamer, but her great history in this event, her passion for it, naturally singles her out as a storyline.

That Inkster’s captaincy should be integrally linked to Creamer makes sense.

There has been a bond between these two since Creamer’s first Solheim Cup, when the teenage rookie first teamed with the veteran Inkster as partners helping the Americans win at Crooked Stick 10 years ago.

Fittingly, they won their first match together in 2005 in foursomes, defeating Laura Davies and Maria Hjorth, 3 and 2. It’s fitting because alternate-shot is the ultimate team format, the toughest and truest partnership in team golf.

In foursomes, partners are at the mercy of each other more than any other format. You live with the shot your partner leaves you. But the thing is, the best partners know that sometimes they’re going to leave each other in bad spots, but they trust they’ll take turns bailing each other out.

That’s where Inkster and Creamer are again.



They’re headed to Germany in three weeks trusting that there will be challenges trying to keep Europe from winning the Solheim Cup for a third consecutive event, but they’re going to bail each other out.

“From the moment I heard Juli was going to be the captain, it put a big smile on my face,” Creamer said. “Now to play under her is pretty special.”

Over the last two seasons, Creamer has struggled to reconcile swing changes with equipment changes, specifically the way she used to bend her irons to help her hit higher shots. Her swing changes complicated the nature of the bounce in her new irons. Her confidence waned with the challenges.

“It sounds crazy, but I’m so close to finding it,” Creamer said. “I feel like I’m in a really good place right now.”

Inkster said the rest of the American team strongly wanted Creamer. She said they believe in her, too. Inkster also thinks the match-play format will draw out Creamer’s best instincts.

“I think Paula deserves a chance to play on the Solheim Cup,” Inkster said. “She has earned that spot. It wasn't like she finished 30th on the points. She finished 12th. So it wasn't really going outside the box to grab her.

“I have a ton of confidence in her ... I love where her head's at. I love her. I think she's going to be great over there.” 

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”