2005: Kerr outduels Creamer – again
By Jay A. Coffin
Let’s not start all the rivalry talk just yet.
Although Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr have crossed paths on numerous occasions during the past year, the two don’t believe they have a budding rivalry.
Sure, there are similarities. Both are young, attractive Americans who are challenging Annika Sorenstam atop the LPGA money list. Kerr made birdie on the final hole of the 2004 ShopRite Classic to defeat Creamer, then an amateur, by a shot. The latest run-in came at Tartan Fields Golf Club Aug. 28, where Kerr outdueled Creamer down the stretch to win the Wendy’s Championship by a stroke. Now, both are two-time winners this season.
Though Creamer made bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18 to close Round 3, she took a one-shot advantage over Kerr and Soo-Yun Kang into the final round. Creamer shot 71 Sunday and struggled to find the form that produced rounds of 68-66-66; Kerr crafted a 69 when she converted a testy 4-footer for par on the final hole. Kerr, 27, shot 68-67-66-69 for an 18-under-par 270 total.
Although Kerr collected the $165,000 first-place check, she still trails Creamer by more than $60,000 in earnings, a statistic Kerr was quick to calculate after her victory.
“I don’t really like that I got passed on the money list,” Kerr said earlier in the week. “But it’s all in good fun, and I’ve got to work that much harder to keep up with her. She is a great player and having a great year.”
Creamer, 19, who locked up Rookie of the Year honors via a second-place tie with Sorenstam, believes there is no real rivalry with Kerr because, among other things, Kerr is an older, more experienced veteran.
“I don’t know, it’s hard to say,” Creamer said. “We have two totally different games. She’s played longer out here. She knows things that I haven’t seen before.”
There was a minor dispute between the two following the round because of Kerr’s deliberate nature. She took more time in crucial situations and frequently backed off shots before resetting again. Creamer and Kang appeared agitated with the pace and often walked ahead while Kerr took practice swings and analyzed her next shot.
“I wish we’d have been on the clock,” said Kang, a first-time winner the week before at the Safeway Classic. “I wanted her (Kerr) to pick it up, but I didn’t want to bother her because she was playing well. She is always slow. Everybody knows she’s a slow player. I walked with Paula a lot and we talked about it. If the pace was better, I’d have had a better chance.”
Said Kerr: “Frankly, the pace of play (ahead of us) was a lot slower than it has been, so when that happens you tend to slow down a lot. If it seemed I was slower today, I probably was. But generally I tend to be quicker.”
Despite the focus on Creamer and Kerr, Pat Hurst shared the lead with Kerr as she stepped to the final tee, but she hit her drive so far right it ended up in a ditch lined with trees. She took an unplayable lie and made double bogey to tie for fourth with Jeong Jang.
Sorenstam began the day five shots off the lead but made things interesting when she posted an early 66 to seize the clubhouse lead at 17 under.
“I did not really expect anything,” Sorenstam said, “especially when you see people like Paula and Cristie up there. They’re winners. They’ve done this before.”
Just don’t call them rivals.