Bulle Rock's first event earns `top-notch' reviews

Attendance nears 100,000

Lopez's call lifts Creamer

Notebook

LPGA Championship

June 13, 2005|By Paul McMullen and Kim Phelan | Paul McMullen and Kim Phelan,SUN STAFF

Before the McDonald's LPGA Championship had even concluded, officials were ready to call the first tour event at Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace a success.

"The attendance, the reception we've received from this part of the world and everything that's been associated with the tournament so far has been a home run for us," said LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw. "We're very pleased with the move and as first-year experiences go it's been top notch."

After 11 years at the DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del., the tournament began what, at minimum, will be a five-year run at Bulle Rock. Yesterday's attendance of 29,900 made for a four-day total of 96,700. According to the director of business development Peter Wilder, the event had its largest walk-up ticket sales ever.

The event's charities will receive $1.75 million, $150,000 more than last year.

Creamer rises

Michelle Wie continues to do amazing things at 15, but Paula Creamer remains the youngest winner ever in an LPGA Tour multi-round event. After struggling in the second and third rounds, she finished with a 67 that matched the low round of the tournament.

Creamer, an 18-year-old who won the Sybase Classic and graduated from high school in the same week last month, gave much of the credit for her leap 14 spots up the leader board to a share for third place to Nancy Lopez. The Hall of Famer will captain the American team in the Solheim Cup.

"She [Lopez] called to wish me luck," Creamer said of a Saturday night conversation. "That kind of motivated me even more, to prove to her that I can play well in the majors and I'm good enough to play on the Solheim Cup team."

Creamer had a bogey-free round and got the first of her five birdies on No. 1.

Lopez, meanwhile, is making tentative plans to return to the tour next year, if she is physically fit. Playing in a charity event she hosts, Lopez experienced foot pain last month, and may need surgery. Even though she played in only two events this season, the 48-time champion does not view her return to the tour as a comeback.

"I never really retired," said Lopez, 48, a Golf Channel analyst. "I just wanted to back away from it for a while and spend more time with my family."

Something's fishy

Wie's biggest mistake came not at Bulle Rock, but at brunch Thursday.

She was suffering from indigestion when the first round was delayed, and the break allowed her to settle her stomach. She overdid it on one of her favorite meals, salmon, shrimp and rice prepared by her mother.

"I wasn't thinking, but this has happened to me before," Wie said. "Friday and Saturday, I couldn't eat much, and my energy level was down."

That was not an issue yesterday, when her 3-wood went farther than her driver had in the first three rounds.

She'll play in a 36-hole Publinks qualifier in Pittsburgh tomorrow, then rejoin the tour next week at the U.S. Open.

Good to be home

Annika Sorenstam's victory has local connections. Her caddie, Terry McNamara, spent eight years of his childhood living in Westminster.

In fact, it marked the first time McNamara said he has won anything in Maryland "since the CYO basketball championshop when I was about 10."

Sun staff writer Don Markus contributed to this article.

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