Evian Sees Strong Start by Creamer, Strong Finish by Kupcho
Another Evian has come and gone. Despite begin accustomed to seeing a host of Korean golfers in contention, circumstances following the third round seemed profound. I joked with the idea of putting people as teams on podiums, as we do in the Olympics. Five or six Koreans belonged on the top podium, with Shanshan Feng close behind, and the two Jutanugarn sisters, Ariya and Moira, nipping at everyone’s heels. Asia was playing some great golf this weekend, and I tuned in to see which one would win it all. Jin Young Ko did not disappoint, while others faded. The surprises I didn’t expect were to see Jennifer Kupcho vault into close contention on day four, and to see Paula Creamer fade so far from such a strong start.
While the two Thai stars stayed with it through the entire event and names such as Inbee Park and Sung Hyun Park surprisingly faded a bit, my mind focused primarily on Paula and Jennifer, and their two trajectories. It happens all the time in professional golf. Something happens to a really fine player. It isn’t necessarily a bad or even noticeable thing, but some luster gets lost.. In terms of Yani Tseng, she lost it all, and is still presumably looking for it. It can be temporary, or final.
Creamer is not from the old world. She’s still young, and represents the best qualities of the professional game. I have always had a soft spot for her after a day or two in the gallery watching her game and her demeanor around fans. She’s a fine player and hands down good people with other people., As a fan, I don’t want her to become obscured as a presence, and one tournament is not a complete story. Lydia Ko has been following a trajectory that bears a resemblance, although the fade isn’t nearly as dire. A lot of life happens in the 20s and 30s, good stuff, bad stuff, and just stuff. One’s golf game is a delicate organism, and almost anything can affect it. I couldn’t begin to know what is happening to whom. I just want to see Paula Creamer come back.
And then there is this wonderful Kupcho person. An old world fan like myself is accustomed to seeing people get the hang of it as they learn to negotiate major professional events. Sometimes it takes several years, sometimes a little less or a little more. Jennifer Kupcho seems to have no patience for that. The three-time number one amateur grabbed her Wake Forest diploma with one hand, won a few more collegiate awards and nearly took away a major with the other in her rookie season as a pro. That’s quick work. It has a certain Captain Marvel quality to it that came on us very suddenly and may prove unbeatable in various weeks along the way.
How to explain such trajectories in different players is beyond me, and I surmise beyond most others as well. Maybe the players themselves know what’s going on, but aren’t obliged to let us in on it. the world of majors is looking different than it used to. When Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko miss the cut, and a recent college graduate who played at the Ladies Amateur at Augusta just a few months ago nearly catches the leader in a major, the physics of personal competition have changed.
In terms of Paula Creamer, she proved that she can still go out and play a round of terrific golf. I can only think that one of these days, her ability to put three or four of them together will reappear.