MOBILE, Alabama (AP) — Paula Creamer knows how difficult it is to keep up with Lorena Ochoa and Suzann Pettersen on the U.S. LPGA Tour.
“For me, I know what I need to get better to compete more and more with them,” Creamer said at the Tournament of Champions. “They are just so much longer than me. That’s something that, hopefully, I can change in the offseason.”
Ochoa, already the U.S. women’s tour player of the year, has won seven times this season and earned a record $3,337,993. Last year at Magnolia Grove, the Mexican had weekend rounds of 63 and 65 for a 10-stroke victory and 21-under 267 total, both tournament records.
Pettersen is coming off consecutive victories in South Korea and Thailand and has won three of her last four starts. Second behind Ochoa with five victories and $1,753,309, the Norwegian has had at least a share of the lead in her last six rounds and nine of 12.
“I think it’s all based on confidence. Confidence is huge,” Creamer said.
After taking last week off, Pettersen is making her first start in the event limited to tournament winners from 2004-07 and active U.S. women’s golf Hall of Fame members.
“I’m just kind of feeling my body again after a week off. I’ve been sleeping day in and day out,” Pettersen said. “My rhythm has been really messed up.”
She’ll have to win this week and next in the season-ending ADT Championship to match Ochoa’s victory total.
“She’s got seven wins and I’ve got five,” Pettersen said. “There are two more events, so we’ll see. My goal for these two weeks is to be in contention, to be there when it happens on Sunday and see what I can do. That’s my goal, to be right there when it happens and try to pull off one or two more victories.”
Ochoa will begin her title defense Thursday.
“For sure, Mobile is a special place for me,” Ochoa said. “It’s all about feeling comfortable and having good feelings about the course. That’s what I have here and I can’t wait to get back out there.”
Annika Sorenstam also is in the field along with Juli Inkster, Natalie Gulbis, Se Ri Pak and Morgan Pressel. Gulbis is making her first appearance in the event after winning the Evian Masters.
“I’m very excited,” Gulbis said. “This is an event that I wanted to participate in for many, many years. I’m very excited to be here this week.”
She teamed with John Elway on Monday to win the ADT Skills.
“We had an absolute blast,” she said.