Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel each vowed they would be the top ranked player in the world, something no American had ever done -- until now.
Cristie Kerr beat Creamer and Pressel to the top, but both are proud that an American is atop the world rankings.
âThereâs been a lot of talk on our tour about the international influence,â Pressel said Wednesday on the eve of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic. âTo have somebody from the United States â¦ I hope it inspires young girls to come out and could inspire a new wave of American golf.â
Creamer, who won the Farr in 2008 but is struggling after thumb surgery, cheered Kerrâs breakthrough after Swedenâs Annika Sorenstam and Mexicoâs Lorena Ochoa dominated the rankings that began in 2006.
âThat was really neat to see, to have an American on top,â Creamer said. âIt shows that itâs anybodyâs title right now. Itâs great that weâre finally there. Weâve focused so much on âWhere are the Americans? Where are the Americans?â I think itâs kind of a little punch there saying, âHere we are.ââ
Kerr, who won the yearâs second major, the LPGA Championship, by a stunning 12 shots last week, sneaked up from No. 4 in the rankings past Japanâs Ai Miyazato, South Koreaâs Jiyai Shin and Norwayâs Suzann Pettersen. Creamer is 13th and Pressel 16th in this weekâs rankings.
Kerr is skipping the Jamie Farr to prepare for yet another major next week, the U.S. Womenâs Open at Oakmont. Only one of the top seven players in the world â Shin -- is in the Farr field. Just three of the top 10 on the LPGA Tour money list are also on hand.
Creamer is present, largely because she missed her chance to defend her title a year ago. Before the opening round, she withdrew because of a ligament injury to her left thumb. A year later, sheâs still hurting.
âI know that my biggest enemy is myself, just trying to do things that I canât do and getting upset about that,â she said. âItâs important to overcome this little hurdle that I have to go through. This is all the process of post-surgery. You have to be able to break things up and get back out there and hopefully in another month or two itâll be a little bit better.â
It is clear that things are not good now. She has played in only three tournaments this year, missing one cut with a seventh-place finish at the ShopRite.
âPreparation for me right now has totally changed from last year and the year before, because of the injury,â said Creamer, who has won eight times on tour. âI need to play more instead of hitting balls on a range. I have to be able to go out there and hit different shots.â
Instead, she must hit all but short pitch shots off a tee to avoid the shock on her thumb.
Just two years ago, Creamer came to the Farr and shot a career-best, 11-under 60 in the opening round that carried her to a two-shot victory.
Even after missing last yearâs tournament, she persevered to have a solid year which included 10 top-10 finishes and a primary role in leading the U.S. to victory in the Solheim Cup. But the surgery -- and the pain -- has set her back.
âItâs not where I want it to be,â she said of both her thumb and her game. âIâm playing as well as I can. Iâm very limited with things that I can do, so it is tough to take the next step.â
She wears an elastic bandage that circles her wrist and her thumb. But it offers little protection.
âItâs tough. Every day â¦ you kind of have to see how it feels that day,â she said. âI took Monday and Tuesday off from hitting balls. Yesterday I did hit some pitches. I just tried to give it a rest. But it is sore.â
Pressel hasnât won the Farr, but sheâs come close. She shot a 64 in the final round a year ago, but lost on the first hole of a playoff with Eunjung Yi. She was also second to five-time champion Se Ri Pak in the 2007 Farr.
âIâve been there. Iâve been close. Iâve played well on this golf course. More than anything, it just gives me confidence,â she said. âIâve been here before, I know I can be close, and hopefully I can close the deal.â