Two things are certain this week: Inbee Park will remain No. 1 regardless of the outcome at the Kingsmill Championship. And no one will play the 18th hole eight consecutive times.
“I saw it so many times, I don’t think I need a practice round on that hole ever again,” said Paula Creamer, who lost to Jiyai Shin at Kingsmill Resort’s River Course last year – in a nine-hole playoff that extended into Monday.
Tournament officials have made sure that won’t happen again, posting notices about a new playoff procedure, should one be needed: 18th hole three times, followed by Nos. 16, 17 and 18. If more holes are required, players would return to 16, 17 and 18.
“I think every tournament after this one now has a strategic plan for playoff holes,” Creamer said. “I think we changed a lot of ways that tournament directors and associations look at events.”
What still confuses Creamer about last year’s “Groundhog Day” performance was that after playing the 18th hole eight consecutive times and having the playoff suspended because of darkness, she and Shin returned the next day and resumed play on the 10th hole. Creamer three-putted the 10th to lose to Shin.
“Why didn’t we switch it on the fifth time we played it?” she reasonably asked.
One sign things might go her way this week: She aced the par-3 fifth hole on Tuesday with a 6-iron.
“Drinks were on me last night,” she said. “The one on 17 is for the cruise, so I’m hoping I can dial it in on that hole.”
Creamer’s longtime swing coach David Whelan is out this week, and he was on the range with her late Wednesday afternoon for some last-minute tutelage. She was peppered with questions from local media about her victory drought, which stands at 60.
“I just say it like that, ‘I haven’t won in a while,’ ” Creamer said, when asked how she deals with the drought, which dates to the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open. “I haven’t, and I’m reminded of that constantly and I know. It’s not like I don’t know I haven’t held a trophy in my hand for a couple years.”
Creamer likes to remind us all that golf is a marathon, and not a sprint. Last year’s playoff at Kingsmill underscores her point.
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LOCK AT THE TOP: Inbee Park cannot lose her No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings this week. Park, the Kraft Nabisco champion, overtook Stacy Lewis as No. 1 on April 15 – after an off-week on the LPGA. Park won again Sunday at the North Texas LPGA Shootout for her third victory in 2013.
Lewis admitted to putting too much pressure on herself in recent weeks, but said being ranked No. 1 is not her No. 1 goal.
“The rankings are . . . unfortunately, it’s kind of an awkward science,” she said.
Winning, however, is not.