Sunday, May 04, 2008

Creamer wins SemGroup Championship

Paula Creamer birdied the second playoff hole to defeat Juli Inkster and win the SemGroup Championship Presented by John Q. Hammons.

That was one great playoff and a great day of virtual match-play between Inkster (who was bidding to become the oldest winner in LPGA history) and Creamer (the youngest winner in LPGA history). UPDATE: Not true - Marlene Hagge was younger than Creamer when she won in 1952. Thanks to Stu and TC for pointing that out. I'm going to spend some extra time to be sure and do this the justice it deserves. Recap to come...

It was Creamer’s second win of the year, the sixth of her career and the third in her last nine starts. It was Inkster’s second straight playoff loss in this tournament, falling to Mi Hyun Kim on the first hole in 2007. Jeong Jang and Angela Stanford tied for third at +2 four shots behind, while Lorena Ochoa, Dorothy Delasin and Brittany Lang tied for fifth at +3.

I expected these two great match-players to square off and they didn’t disappoint. Creamer bogeyed the 2nd to lose half of the two-shot edge she started with. Both players birdied 3 but then Inkster bogeyed 6 to fall two back again. Hole 7 brought the first two-shot swing of the day – Paula bogeyed, Juli birdied, all tied up at -2. Hole 8 brought the second two-shot swing – Juli bogeyed after putting one in the creek and Paula birdied to reach -3 and go up by two.

Lang had drawn within two of the lead with a birdie at 6 but gave it back at 7. Jang and Stanford both got to within three a couple of times but no one was able to seriously challenge the two frontrunners. This despite missed opportunities by both of them early on the back nine – Inkster missed from seven feet at 10 while both players missed from six at 11, Creamer describing her miss as “pathetic”. Neither had realistic chances at 12 or 13 but at the latter, Creamer missed her par from two feet and had to make bogey from three while Inkster left her first putt three feet short (cursing audibly) but dropped it to save par. The lead was now one. At 14, Juli missed her birdie attempt from eight feet. Paula had dropped her approach only three feet away and sank the putt to go back up by two. At 15, Paula had a seven-footer which would have put her ahead by three but she missed it left. A 15-footer at 17 just missed to the right but Creamer still went to 18 up by two strokes.

From the left side of the 18th fairway, Paula sailed her approach over the green and under the TV tower. Juli played a fine shot to about 12 feet left of the hole. After getting relief from the temporary structure, Creamer chipped about seven feet past the hole. Inkster rolled home her birdie putt, forcing Paula to make to avoid her second playoff in as many weeks. Her par attempt slid by the right side for the third two-shot swing of the day. It was looking like déjà vu all over again for Creamer.

They replayed 18 for the first playoff hole. After two perfect drives, Paula fired her second to eight feet and Juli pulled hers to the left side of the green. Inkster lagged beautifully to about a foot and tapped in for par. From nearly the same spot she had missed 20 minutes before, Creamer missed this one on the opposite (left) side. For the second hole, they played #10. Again from good positions in the fairway, Paula roped hers to six feet while Juli left hers about 40 feet to the right. Inkster lagged it almost perfectly, curling around the hole and stopping about two inches away. Creamer slammed hers home, making her third putt to win the charm.

Highlight clips and Epilogue will be along shortly.


The Constructivist said...

Mulligan Stu's got a correction on Creamer being the youngest winner on tour.

svenson said...

I think Marlene Hagge is the youngest LPGA winner: She was 18 years and 14 days when she won a tournament in 1952.