Pressel, Creamer, Lincicome: From rivals to close friends

By Randall MellJanuary 10, 2017, 9:09 pm

Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans ...

Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lincicome know what John Lennon meant when he sang that line.

It’s hard to believe, but Creamer, Pressel and Lincicome have made the journey together in professional golf for more than a decade now. Once junior rivals, they have become the closest of friends.

The game’s twists and turns have taken them on different paths, but in the same direction, through similar peaks and valleys. They’ve grown closer together as confidants sharing their joy and pain.

In fact, the shared hardships might have been the strongest bonding agents.

“We are definitely closer now than we’ve ever been,” Pressel said as the trio prepares for the opening of the 2017 LPGA season in a little more than two weeks. “We’ve been through a lot together.”

It’s hard to believe Creamer turned 30 last August, Lincicome 31 last September, and that Pressel, who will turn 29 this season, is about to begin her 12th year on tour.

The trio came up together as prodigies, battling each other in American Junior Golf Association events, where they combined to win almost 30 times.

Creamer and Lincicome joined the LPGA as rookies in 2005, Pressel a year later.

They know what it’s like to reach the pinnacle of their sport, with each going on to win a major championship, Lincicome two of them. But they also know what it’s like to struggle to live up to the lofty expectations that came with their amateur resumes and their majors. They know what it’s like to struggle through disappointment, injury and slumps.

“We’ve shared a lot of memories, a lot of ups and downs,” Creamer said. “I always say we’re like sisters. We fight like sisters, and we love like sisters, but we’re always there for one another.”

Pressel learned early how real life doesn’t make provisions for golf prodigies.

When Pressel was 15, her mother, Kathryn Krickstein Pressel, died of breast cancer. Pressel launched her own foundation and in Monday’s annual Morgan & Friends Fight Cancer Tournament added another $1 million to her fight against breast cancer. Creamer and Lincicome were among the all-star cast of pro-am participants at St. Andrews County Club in Pressel’s Boca Raton, Fla., hometown.

“I’ll never forget the day Morgan’s mom passed away,” Creamer said. “There are no words to describe what Morgan’s done [with her event]. This is what I’m most proud of her for.”

There has been kinship in finding meaning together in the struggles, meaning beyond golf.

“We aren’t ashamed now to tell each other when bad things happen in our lives,” Creamer said. “You think people understand what you’re going through out here, but even your parents, they know and care about what you’re going through, but they don’t really know what you’re feeling.

“Morgan and Brittany, they understand the pressure. They understand what it’s like to work really hard and feel like you’re not getting the results for all that work.”

Creamer and her husband, Derek Heath, drove from their Orlando home to spend New Year’s Eve at the home of Morgan and her husband, Andy Bush.

“We cooked and drank some wine,” Pressel said.

How close are these three?

Pressel was Creamer’s matron of honor when Paula got married two years ago and Lincicome was a bridesmaid. Pressel was also Lincicome’s matron of honor when Brittany got married last year and Creamer was a bridesmaid. Creamer and Lincicome were both in Pressel’s wedding four years ago.

“I think helping each other through these big life events probably created an even tighter bond,” Pressel said.

They’ve come a long way, because in the beginning they were often in each other’s way, going for the same trophies.

“I remember meeting Morgan for the first time,” Creamer said. “We didn’t really get off to a great start. She was this fiery little thing. I was from California and she was from Florida, so we didn’t know each other very well in the beginning.

“We knew each other to say, `Hi, how are you?’ but we didn’t really talk. We didn’t hang out, but then we started making the same teams, the Canon Cup and Junior Solheim Cup, and we realized we could like each other, that we could be friends.”

Pressel won the Kraft Nabisco when she was 18 in 2007, becoming the youngest winner of a major at the time. Lincicome broke through to win the Kraft Nabisco in ’09 and Creamer the U.S. Women’s Open in ‘10.

There were struggles after that, with Pressel and Creamer both going through injury woes. There was shared pain trying to rebuild their games. Pressel slumped when her swing changed battling through a thumb injury in 2012, an injury that radiated into her wrist and her neck that year.

“When Morgan had her thumb injury, we talked almost every day,” Creamer said.

Creamer struggled through a series of her own physical woes, a mysterious stomach malady and other injuries, and more recently there were some frustrations changing her swing.

“It seems like one of us goes through something, and we all end up going through something similar,” Lincicome said. “It’s nice having a friend who can relate to what you’re going through, who you can call and say `I’m dealing with something. I could use some advice.’ And go to dinner and cry it out together.”

Someday, they envision going to LPGA daycare and watching their children play alongside each other.

“We talk about that all the time,” Creamer said. “I think Morgan’s going to be ready to have a baby before I am, but I’m ready to be Auntie to her kids.”

Though Lincicome might have been the last to get married, she suspects she’s the most eager to get a family started.

“Yeah, I think I’m more ready than they are,” Lincicome said. “But I think once one of us gets it started, it’s going to be like a ripple effect, with many kids coming at the same time. We’ve gone through junior golf together, professional golf together, weddings together, and one day I can see our kids together.”

This trio isn’t done competing, with all three gearing up to have good years. They’ve been teammates on the last five Solheim Cups and are looking to make it six this year.

Through the highs and lows, no matter what comes this year, they find comfort knowing they’ll celebrate or commiserate together.

TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.


-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.

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Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.

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DeChambeau gets foursomes, fourball mixed up

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Bryson DeChambeau is an accomplished player when it comes to match play, having captured the U.S. Amateur and starred on a Walker Cup team. But don’t ask him to explain the semantic difference between the formats in play at this week’s Ryder Cup.

DeChambeau became crossed up Tuesday at Le Golf National when he was asked about the intricacies of foursomes play – better known to many Americans as alternate shot.

“Fourball, foursomes, I always get those mixed up,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just easier for me to say alternate shot.”

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Thankfully for DeChambeau, he still has some time to make a distinction between the two before the matches begin in earnest. And when they do, it’ll be fourballs for the morning sessions both Friday and Saturday, with foursomes in the afternoon – a change from the 2016 matches when DeChambeau was on the grounds at Hazeltine as a spectator.

While the foursomes format brings with it added pressure in an already tense environment, one of the biggest concerns is how well players can adjust to using the ball of their partner on a given hole. DeChambeau is known to leave nothing to chance in his preparation, and he’s already circled that particular factor as he gets set to make his Ryder Cup debut.

“It’s key because we want to be comfortable. Each player needs to be comfortable with the ball that they are playing,” DeChambeau said. “So for compatibility reasons, it’s one of the most important things out there in regards to alternate shot. It is the most important.”