American women: A renaissance?
The South Koreans will still possess greater depth, but there are enough signs of late that America's women are poised finally to step up in the near future and challenge the Koreans' LPGA dominance.
Amateur Alexis Thompson, 14, issued a timely reminder of this on Thursday, when she shot a 65 in the first round of the Navistar LPGA Classic, one stroke behind leader Janice Moodie. Thompson's starring role is probably still several years off; she seems to be well grounded and isn't likely to follow the route taken by Michelle Wie, who turned pro at 16, played several men's tournaments, and is still looking to win for the first time since she was 13. But Thompson clearly will have a role in America's renaissance.
The leader on this front for the moment is Paula Creamer, 23, who already has eight victories, four in 2008 alone, and has had another stellar year in '09, though she hasn't won and has battled a season-long malady that has gone undiagnosed.
There, too, is Wie will turn 20 next week and remains on the threshold of stardom. She shot 67 on Thursday and is tied for third. She'll start winning eventually, and when she does she might fulfill the potential she's been dragging around like too much baggage for the past several years.
Finally, there is Amanda Blumenherst, who patiently has been biding her time, by fulfilling her potential as a scholar as well as an athlete. A three-time college player of the year, she recently graduated magna cum laude from Duke. She still has to qualify for the LPGA through its qualifying tournament, which is likely a formality at this point. Blumenherst won her sectional qualifier by six strokes and last week tied for fifth in the the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge.
All of this is good news for American women's golf, the first in awhile, notwithstanding a Solheim Cup victory over an inferior European team. An American hasn't won an LPGA event since early May, but the stars are finally starting to align for them.
-- John Strege