NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (AP) – Paula Creamer gave herself quite a graduation gift.

The 18-year-old made a 17-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win the Sybase Classic by one stroke and become the second-youngest first-time winner ever on the LPGA Tour.

Creamer won’t be able to win two weeks in a row, though, as she has to return to Bradenton, Fla., for her high school graduation on Thursday.

“It’s going to be fun going home for graduation, that’s for sure,” she said. “I can’t even speak let alone think right now. It’s awesome. I have so much energy right now.”

The former amateur star closed with a 1-under 71 on the Wykagyl Country Club course, including three birdies in her last five holes. She had tap-in birdies on the par-4 14th and par-5 15th and the clincher came on the par-5 18th after she was just short of the green in two. She finished with a 6-under 278.

Two par-saving putts on Nos. 12 and 13 were just as big as the birdies in keeping her in position for win No. 1.

“Those putts, that’s when I got momentum,” she said. “That was a big swing moment.”

Marlene Hagge won the Sarasota Open in 1952, just 14 days after her 18th birthday. She won the Bakersfield Open two months later. Both of those tournaments were just 18-hole events.

Creamer is the youngest winner of a true LPGA tournament since Amy Alcott was one day past her 19th birthday, when she won the Orange Blossom Classic in 1975.

“They told me about that when I was signing my scorecard,” Creamer said of being the second-youngest winner. “That’s awesome. That’s great.”

The final round started in intermittent rain, but the final 2 hours were played in a steady rain and the temperature never broke 60 degrees.

“It was tough out there,” said Creamer, a native of Northern California who likes playing in the rain. “The scoreboard showed how tough it was. .At one point, the lead was 3 under.”

Creamer, who finished second in the ShopRite Classic last year as an amateur, is 18 years and 9 months old. Her previous best finish this year was a tie for third in the Takefuji Classic.

The $187,500 winner’s share from the $1.2 million purse is almost $20,000 more than Creamer won in her eight starts this year and will move her from 19th to fourth place on the money list. Hagge won a total of $575 for her two wins in the LPGA’s third year of existence.

Jeong Jang (67) and 2002 Sybase champion Gloria Park (71) tied for second at 279, one shot in front of Christina Kim (73), who led or shared the lead after each of the first three rounds.

Heather Bowie (72) and Joo Mi Kim (73) finished another shot back at 281.

Creamer hit a 7-iron to tap-in distance on 14 and then pitched to within inches with her third shot on the next hole.

Jang, also looking for her first win, had three birdies in her final four holes, including a 15-footer on the 18th that brought her into a tie with Creamer.

Park made it a three-way tie for the lead with a 5-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th. She just missed a 40-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

Perry runs away with second Colonial victory

FORT WORTH, Texas – Kenny Perry understands he will always have to share his first Colonial victory with Annika Sorenstam. And that’s OK with him.

But this Colonial was all Perry.

Perry ended another record-breaking run at Hogan’s Alley with a 1-under 69 Sunday for a seven-stroke victory over Billy Mayfair (69).

After a double bogey at the 17th hole, Perry had to settle for matching his tournament scoring record of 19-under 261. It was the best 72-hole total on the PGA Tour this year, and the largest margin of victory. Phil Mickelson twice won by five strokes this season.

Perry’s victory at Colonial in 2003 was overshadowed by Sorenstam, who became the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour. After the LGPA standout missed the cut, Perry tied the course record with a third-round 61 and won at 19 under, six strokes ahead of Justin Leonard.

Perry began Sunday with a seven-stroke cushion, a lead that no PGA Tour player has ever squandered in a final round, and made sure there wouldn’t be any challengers.

Even after missing the fairway on the 563-yard opening hole, Perry made a 3-foot birdie. He got to 20 under with an 11-footer at No. 5, a 472-yard hole that ranks as the toughest on the course.

On a second straight day of record heat in the upper 90s, there was quite a shootout behind Perry, who had just two bogeys in the tournament.

David Toms (66), Joe Durant (66) and Peter Lonard (69) finished tied for third, a stroke behind Mayfair, at 11-under 269. Seven golfers, including Bernhard Langer (67), were tied for sixth at 10 under.

Since his victory 2003, Perry has gotten a thrill out of seeing his name engraved on the wall by the first tee with other Colonial champions, including Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead. Only five-time champion Hogan has won more than twice.

Now, Perry will become just the 10th golfer with his name on that wall twice.

The 44-year-old Kentucky native, who won at Bay Hill in March, is the fourth multiple winner on tour this season. Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have won three times.

It was the ninth career win for Perry, who won just three titles in his first 16 seasons before the 2003 Colonial. Along with another plaid jacket, he won $1 million, pushing his career earnings to more than $18 million – $2.6 million of that in 16 Colonials.

With the rhythm of his golf swing feeling just as it did two years ago, Perry had an opening 65 – at that point his best round this year. He followed with a 63 to break the tournament’s 36-hole scoring record at 12 under, and then had a 64 on Saturday for the 54-hole scoring record at 18 under.

Perry came only inches from going at least three strokes lower Sunday.

His short pitch shot at the 394-yard 6th hole rolled over the hole and stopped 5 feet past. He missed that birdie chance. At the par-3 13th, a 39-foot birdie putt burned the edge of the cup.

Perry plans to visit an eye doctor next week because of problems that make it difficult for him to read greens or see clearly from long distances and shady spots. He has twice had laser surgery on his eyes, and might try wearing glasses the next time he plays.

He didn’t have any real problems at Colonial, playing 53 straight bogey-free holes between his 17th hole Thursday – the 193-yard No. 8 – and his 17th Sunday, when he missed the green at the 394-yard hole and three-putted from 40 feet.

Divots: Joe Ogilvie shot 262 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, going 26 under in the January tournament. … Perry was the 21st player since 1970 to lead by seven strokes through 54 holes. All have gone on to win. … Toms, who had missed three of his last five cuts and finished 34th and 68th in the other two tournaments, had four straight sub-par rounds. … Patrick Sheehan led after an opening 62, but was 10 strokes worse in the second round and went 75-76 on the weekend. He finished tied for 71st with Frank Lickliter II at 5-over 285, worst among those who made the cut.

AP-ES-05-22-05 1827EDT


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