By Ward Clayton
Kerr, Creamer eye winner’s circle
In the summer of 2010, Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer were riding high as the American duo captured consecutive major championships within a three-week span. Since that time, Kerr and Creamer have remained in the top 10 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings but they are searching to break a victory drought.
Kerr, 34, won the 2010 LPGA Championship by 12 strokes for her second major title and 14th career LPGA win and rose to No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings. Entering this week’s LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf, Kerr has gone 42 tournaments without a win, the longest victory break since her sixth year on the LPGA in 2002 when she captured her first title. Kerr is the world’s top-ranked American, at No. 4.
A wrist injury which affected her play at the 2011 Solheim Cup and then a brief illness derailed any momentum she gained from recording three runner-ups and 12 top-10 finishes in 2011.
“Some of the tournaments where I came in second I played awesome but somebody played better,” Kerr said at the end of 2011. “That's the way it goes sometimes.”
Creamer, 25, won the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont, Pa., for her first major championship title and ninth career LPGA victory. The U.S. Women’s Open title was a comeback from left thumb surgery that caused her to miss four months. Since that win, Creamer has gone a career-high 36 tournaments without a win as she was still recuperating from the thumb surgery and began remodeling her swing to add more distance. Ranked No. 10 this week, she did have 10 top-10 finishes in 2011.
“I'm pretty technical, the most technical I've ever been, and it's just the way it's going to be for a while,” Creamer said in March. “I'm OK with that. It's hard. I'm a feel player, and I'm kind of transitioning into somebody else, but eventually I hope that we can say at the end of the year that I'm back to where I'm at and hopefully better than I've ever been, especially consistency wise with my golf swing … There's no reason why I can't win again multiple times and that's my goal.”
Kerr is paired with No. 1 Yani Tseng and Suzann Pettersen in Wednesday’s first round of the LOTTE Championship while Creamer is paired with Stacy Lewis (ranked No. 9) and I.K. Kim.
Paula Creamer may feel a bit like a defending champion this week as she is the most recent champion at Ko Olina Golf Club, where she defeated Jeong Jang by one stroke in the 2008 Fields Open in Hawaii. Creamer also holds the 54-hole mark with a 16-under-par 200 total in winning the 2008 event. This year’s tournament will mark the first 72-hole event at Ko Olina. The last LPGA event held in Hawaii was the SBS Open at Turtle Bay in February 2009, won by Angela Stanford.
Here are the winners of LPGA events played at Ko Olina:
|Feb. 22-24,1990||Orix Hawaiian Ladies Open||Beth Daniel||-6|
|Feb. 21-23, 1991||Orix Hawaiian Ladies Open||Patty Sheehan||-9|
|Feb. 20-22, 1992||Itoki Hawaiian Ladies Open||Lisa Walters||-8|
|Feb. 18-20, 1993||Itoki Hawaiian Ladies Open||Lisa Walters||-6|
|Feb. 17-19, 1994||Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open||Marta Figueras-Dotti||-7|
|Feb. 16-18, 1995||Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open||Barb Thomas||-12|
|Feb. 23-25, 2006||Fields Open in Hawaii||Meena Lee||-14|
|Feb. 22-24, 2007||Fields Open in Hawaii||Stacy Prammanasudh||-14|
|Feb. 21-23, 2008||Fields Open in Hawaii||Paula Creamer||-16|
Ko Olina course
The Ted Robinson-designed Ko Olina course will offer a dramatic finish for the LPGA players this week, particularly through the middle of the back nine and the final hole.
The par-3 12th hole’s entrance is through a cascading waterfall en route to the tee box. The 13th and 14th holes give the field a chance to rally as these holes are consecutive par 5s which are reachable in two shots. The par-4 15th hole will be drivable by the longer hitters, offering another chance to score low. The par-4 18th has water left off the tee and short and left of the two-tiered green.
World Ranking Update
Yani Tseng is back in action this week as the world’s No. 1-ranked player and holds a 9.32-point lead over second-place Na Yeon Choi (18.21-8.89). The six-year record in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings for differential between first and second occurred on April 21, 2008 when Lorena Ochoa held a 9.87-point lead over second-place Annika Sorenstam. Tseng took over the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings on Feb. 14, 2011 and has been in that spot ever since (62 consecutive weeks).
The top 10 has representatives from Taiwan, South Korea, Norway, the United States and Japan.
Alcott on call
World Golf Hall of Famer Amy Alcott is eyeing the fall as part of her partnership with Gil Hanse to design the Olympic golf course for the Rio Janeiro Games in 2016. Groundbreaking is scheduled to begin in October and the course is expected to be ready for grow-in early in 2014. The course will be the only public 18-hole course in Brazil.