Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Sunday: Creamer Holds on for Wire-to-Wire Win

In a week when Suzann Pettersen earned her 9th career victory, Yuri Fudoh became the 1st repeat winner on the JLPGA in 2008 (breaking the billion-yen barrier in career winnings), and Vicky Hurst won her 4th Futures Tour event of the season, the Pink Panther secured her wire-to-wire win in the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic by a 2-shot margin. But Paula Creamer's 7th career LPGA victory wasn't easy. Early on the back, Shanshan Feng had pulled within 1 shot of the leader, making up 7 shots in 12 holes on the strength of a -5 start. But Creamer held steady down the stretch while the rookie faltered with 3 consecutive bogeys (finishing 4th at -12), Nicole Castrale's charge proved to be too little, too late (although her -14 total was good enough for 2nd place), and Eun-Hee Ji proved unable to repeat her feat at the Wegmans (her 2-shot deficit to Creamer with 6 holes left was actually 1 less than she had been behind Pettersen at the same point in Rochester, but today she had to settle for 3rd place at -13). It wasn't a pretty win, but it was Creamer's 3rd of 2008 (T2 with Annika Sorenstam) and 5th since the start of the 2007 season (T2 with Suzann Pettersen).

This was certainly a week in which the #3 through #5 players in the world made some major statements while Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam were resting. Although she didn't put herself in contention today, Karrie Webb held steady for a solo 5th-place finish at -11, her best since her playoff loss to Seon Hwa Lee in the Ginn Tribute.

It was also a week for bouncebacks from tough stretches--and not just by Creamer, Pettersen, and Fudoh. Brittany Lincicome got her 1st top 10 since last June, Ji Young Oh got her 1st since mid-March, Angela Stanford her 1st since early May, and Catriona Matthew since mid-May.

And it was finally a week of missed opportunities. Rachel Hetherington (78, -4, T22), Alena Sharp (78, -2, T30), and Paige Mackenzie (79, +3, T56) blew up in the wind Sunday, and Stacy Lewis (74, -5, T17), Moira Dunn (74, -4, T22), and Momoko Ueda (75, -4, T22) fared almost as badly. Defending champion Se Ri Pak (70, -5, T17) could never quite get it into gear, while Mi Hyun Kim (69, -3, T26) and Stacy Prammanasudh (71, -3, T26) struggled and Amy Yang (73, -1, T40) and Michelle Wie (72, +1, T46) never got anything going. Players who had been hot coming into the week like Giulia Sergas (72, -1, T40) and Meena Lee (73, -2, T30) came out cold.

But that's golf--and life on the LPGA. Next week at the State Farm Classic, there'll be great opportunities for players such as Ya Ni Tseng, Na Yeon Choi, Jane Park, Jee Young Lee, and Christina Kim (the only ones from the top 20 of the money list currently in the field) to make up some significant ground on those ahead of them or lose ground to those relatively close behind them like Hee-Won Han, Angela Park, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lang, Stacy Prammanasudh, Sun Young Yoo, and Ai Miyazato. And Vicky Hurst and Michelle Wie will get their turn to compete against the big girls. After the close of the midwestern swing comes the European swing, capped off by the Canadian Open. A lot can change in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

[Update 1 (7/14/08, 8:04 pm): Hound Dog's final-round recap was worth the wait.]

[Update 2 (7/15/08, 3:30 am): I hope Hound Dog comes up with better highlights than the Golf Channel's all-Paula travesty.]

[Update 3 (11:40 am): Dave Hackenberg of the Toledo Blade has some cutting comments about the future of the Farr. Sounds to me like the folks in Toledo need to take a deep breath, calm down, and look how the Rochester people, particularly Wegmans, have embraced the tour's transnationalism and upped the purse to attract more of the game's top players.]

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