Some fresh faces

Tuesday May 24th, 2005
Golf Power Rankings
Rank LW Player
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Take the week off and become the world's top-ranked golfer. Welcome to Vijay's world, where even non-participation has its rewards. Although Vijay tops the Power Rankings for the third consecutive week, the much-more convulated world rankings needed a couple of extra weeks before the numbers allowed Singh to replace Tiger Woods. Singh likely will stay at No.1 for the next few weeks, with both players in prep mode for the U.S. Open. That means neither will be in Memphis this week.
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Annika Sorenstam
The last time Annika teed it up, she won by 10 strokes. The last time she teed it up at Corning Country Club (site of this week's Corning Classic), she won by two shots. This Annika Sorenstam -- she seems to win a lot, huh? Annika will be seeking her seventh win in the last eight starts, but right now, momentum and winning are equally important in her eyes. The tour's second major, the McDonald's LPGA Championship, is in two weeks and Sorenstam has her eyes on a possible Grand Slam.
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Talk about a home-course advantage. Europe's top event (other than the British Open) is this week's BMW Championship at Wentworth Club, where Els has a home just off the 16th hole. Els has won plenty of Match Play events at Wentworth, but not the BMW. He'll go in as the favorite, having won three times this season on the Euro Tour. "Being able to sleep in your bed at a tournament like this with your family is just a blessing," Els told reporters this week.
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Mickelson didn't impress during his two weeks in Texas, and now he'll take a week off before playing at Memorial. It's a tournament he has played just once this decade, but he's hoping to catch Jack Nicklaus' attention. "Maybe I?m just sucking up the Presidents Cup captain, looking for a little more playing time given my 0-5 record last time he captained in South Africa, but I need to do all I can right now to break the lineup," Mickelson said on his Web site.
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Since turning 40, Perry has won six Tour titles (nine overall). That includes his seven-stroke romp at Colonial, the second time he's won in Fort Worth.'s Gary Van Sickle noted that when the streaky Perry is on, he's almost unbeatable. But it's anybody's guess as to how long Perry will stay hot. After winning at Bay Hill earlier this year, he proceeded to miss the next two cuts. But after winning Colonial in 2003, he won again the following week in Memphis. Which Perry will we see this week?
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We don't know for sure, but we're fairly certain that Tiger didn't lose sleep about being replaced by Vijay Singh atop the world rankings. At least, he didn't seem too worried in all those photos we saw of him posing with the likes of Teri Hatcher and Stevie Wonder at the Tiger Jam benefit concert, an event that raises money for his foundation. We'd even hazard a guess that Tiger made it out to one of those ultra-exclusive golf clubs in Las Vegas. But again, just pure speculation.
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Stephen Dodd
In 2002, Dodd finished 104th on the European Order of Merit (money earnings list). Since then, he has made a steady climb up the charts, and now the Welshman ranks fourth after winning his second tournament of the year, the Irish Open. He also jumped to a career-best 56th in the world rankings and would get an invite to next month's U.S. Open if he can reach the top 50. At 38, Dodd is a late bloomer, and he credits his new-found success to focusing more on the leaderboard and less on his swing technique.
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Like Mickelson, Furyk's two-week trip to Texas wasn't that productive. He joined Phil with a T-26 finish at Colonial, and tied for 18th the previous week at the Byron Nelson. Even so, it isn't like Furyk is playing badly. In those eight rounds in Texas, six were in the 60s -- in fact, of his last 13 rounds on Tour, just two have been in the 70s (a 72 in the second round of the Wachovia and a 71 in the final round in Fort Worth).
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You probably don't remember that Howell finished just outside the top 10 (T-11) at the Masters. But he has made steady appearances on the front page of the European leaderboard all season. That includes second-place finishes in the last two tournaments -- both times losing in a playoff. Though the endings have been bittersweet, Howell is encouraged that at least he's putting himself in a position to win. "I'm sure I'll knock off a victory one day soon," he said after losing to Dodd at the Irish Open.
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Paula Creamer
Remember what you were doing the weekend before graduating from high school? Perhaps one last blowout party with your friends? Maybe securing a spot in a college dorm room for next fall? You probably weren't winning a pro golf event ... but Paula Creamer was, taking the LPGA's Sybase Classic. At 18, she's the second youngest golfer to win a LPGA event. Comparisons with another teenage protege, 15-year-old Michelle Wie, are inevitable, but Creamer doesn't seem concerned with Wie. "She's not out on tour right now," Creamer said Sunday. "She has her exemptions, but that wasn't a goal of mine."
Dropped out: Luke Donald, Jim Thorpe, Scott Verplank, Troy Matteson
Weekly Rankings: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18
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