Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

March 19, 2014

Paula Creamer recharged for Founders Cup

PHOENIX — Paula Creamer has had 2 1/2 weeks to savor “The Putt” in her Singapore playoff victory. She also got to catch her breath and recharge for the JTBC Founders Cup.

“It was nice to have two weeks off after that and just truly enjoy it,” Creamer said Wednesday after completing preparations for the first round Thursday at Desert Ridge’s Wildfire Golf Club.

“You can kind of regroup and then come back out and play. It’s hard to go tournament, tournament, tournament and do well and to win back to back.”

In Singapore, she made a breaking, downhill 75-foot eagle putt on the second extra hole to beat Azahara Munoz in the HSBC Women’s Champions.

“You can’t plan for that,” Creamer said. “That’s just pure genuine, ‘Oh, holy smokes, it just went in the hole.”’

The Founders Cup is the fifth event of the season and first in the United States. Creamer is trying to become the third player in four years to complete a Singapore-Phoenix sweep, following Karrie Webb in 2011 and Stacy Lewis last year.

“This golf course fits their games really well, too,” Creamer said. “I think it’s a nice rest, but it’s also these golf courses are a lot like what we play in Asia with the runoffs and that kind of thing. There’s no rough.”

Creamer ended a 79-event victory drought dating to the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open, winning for the 10th time on the LPGA Tour.

“It was a long time coming,” Creamer said. “I think just to hold a trophy, let alone in that style and that fashion.”

Lewis also ended a long streak in Singapore, tying for 40th to stop her top-10 run at 13. She won the Women’s British Open and had four second-place finishes during the streak that came with an asterisk because she withdrew because of illness in Canada after an opening 74.

“I would have traded a couple of wins for a few less top-10s,” Lewis said.

The third-ranked Lewis struggled in Singapore after opening the year with a second-place finish in the Bahamas, a tie for sixth in Australia and a tie for fifth in Thailand.

“It made me go home and kind of focus on a few things and get my golf swing back under control a little bit,” Lewis said. “It was so good at the Bahamas and it just kind of slid a little bit from there. I don’t know if I got a little complacent with it or what.”

Last year at Wildfire, Lewis closed with an 8-under 64 to beat Ai Miyazato by three strokes and jump from third to first in the world.

“It’s fun to be back and to have those good memories,” Lewis said.

Top-ranked Inbee Park is coming off a victory in China in the Ladies European Tour’s World Ladies Championship. She has been No. 1 for 49 weeks.

“Being on the center of the stage and being in the spotlight, I think I’ve enjoyed that,” Park said. “At the same time, I think that is the toughest part of it.”

No. 2 Suzann Pettersen, second behind Park in China, can take the No. 1 spot with a victory if Park ties for second with at least three other players or finishes third or worse.

“If you sit and think about that, you’ll go crazy,” Pettersen said. “My goal is I really want to see how good my game is and how good it can be. If it’s good enough to be the best player in the world, great.”

Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Woods’ niece, received a sponsor exemption. The Phoenix player won the LET’s Australian Ladies Masters last month.

“To be able to have that win under my belt really helps me know that I’m capable of that,” Woods said. “Every time I come out here to play, I do come out to win.”

DIVOTS: Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Lizette Salas, Lexi Thompson and Tiffany Joh were introduced Wednesday as national ambassadors for LPGA-USGA Girls Golf. Last year, Lewis donated $50,000 of her first-place check to the program. ... JTBC’s J Golf channel televises LPGA Tour events in South Korea. ... The tour will be in California the next two weeks for the Kia Classic in Carlsbad and the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage.

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