Playing with Paula and Life on the Road

By Sarah Lynn SargentApril 27, 2007, 4:00 pm
First off I want to thank everyone for all the wonderful e-mails. They have been fun to read. I have had a few questions throughout the e-mails and thought I might answer a couple of the common questions.
One question I got a lot of last week was, What was it like playing with Paula Creamer?
I am just a rookie who has been out of the spotlight my whole life. I am not someone who people know. It is probably because I was never the best or the stand-out in looks or one of those things that make you a star. I remember one of the producers from the Big Break telling me I was the perfect girl next door. Now I would not go that far, but I do normally stay under the radar. So when I got paired with Paula I knew there would be a few more people watching our group than normal. I would say that I like more rather than less people in a gallery. I am a professional athlete and as I am sure you all have heard before, it sometimes makes us focus more or gets us more excited when there are people watching. So I was looking forward to the prospect of that.
I had met Paula a couple of times before in shuttle cars and just in passing but, of course, when it came down to it she didnt remember me. So I get to the first tee and she introduced herself; I did the same and on we were. Although it would make for a great story if she was not great to play with, she was. She was very gracious and complimentary.
The best part of the day was when we made the turn and our group was right behind Laura Davies' group. She is by far the most impressive woman I have ever seen hit the ball. Herbie (my husband) and Meghan (the girl Herbie caddies for) had played with Laura the first two days when she had shot a total of 12 under. Herbie told me how incredible it was to watch her and it sure was. One of the tees was backed up because it was a somewhat reachable par-4. I got to the tee just as Laura was about to hit. What she did next was awesome. She took a wedge and made a divot with it. She didnt use a tee; she used the back of the divot and put the ball on that. She then took out her driver and bombed the ball just left of the green but pin high. It was great to watch. I only hope one day to get paired with her and get to watch a whole round!
Another question I get often is, What is it actually like traveling for several weeks in a row?
There are many business men and women who travel for days or maybe a week at a time, but most of the time they make it home for a few days. I am in Morelia, Mexico this week and it is the first of seven weeks where I will not go home but for two hours, maybe to get my car. This is where I am very lucky to have Herbie, my husband, on the road with me. Not many husbands will put up with not seeing their wives for seven weeks in a row. But as far as everything else goes it is pretty easy once you get into a routine.
I am not fully sponsored so because of that I stay in host housing. For those of you who dont know what that is; people open their homes and have girls who dont want to stay in a hotel, for whatever reason, stay with them. I will say that it is a lifesaver. For at least a couple of weeks out of the long trek you feel like you are at home. It is nice because not only do you get to meet great people but also you have access to a kitchen and laundry. These are two things I took for granted before I started playing golf. I love to eat out, but everyday for seven weeks is a little much. I hate to do laundry, but I really hate to do laundry in a laundry mat. I dont know if you guys have ever spent a couple of hours in one but I will tell you I have been to some that I would never step foot in again. Just for example, in Syracuse, NY last year it was about 90 degrees and, of course, there was no air conditioning in the wonderful laundry mat. The dryers were blasting away and so were the mosquitoes all over my body. I determined that night that I just must be so sweet that all the bugs wanted my blood! This is something you dont have to worry about when you are staying in host housing.
Another thing that slips through people's minds is the fact that even though you are not home bills still come. Oh, yes, the wonderful bills. Lucky for me I have a mother- and father-in-law who get our mail, take care of our yard and love our dogs while we are gone. So we leave a check book and Linda, my mother-in-law, pays the bills and calls us to let us know the damage! There are just so many things that when you are gone for weeks at a time you forget about.
All the little troubles you have to go through when you are on the road for seven weeks (or even longer sometimes), would not make me love the game of golf any less.
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He will return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finished worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.