Americans fare well, but it's not enough to win U.S. Women's Open

Paula Creamer hits her tee shot on the Paula Creamer hits her tee shot on the first hole during the final day of the 2013 U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack. (June 30, 2013) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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Paula Creamer's tee shot Sunday on the eighth hole left her searching through the high fescue for her ball. She was in trouble, but that's probably not a good analogy for the state of American women's golf.

Creamer was not hiding in the weeds while Inbee Park and Park's fellow South Koreans continued to dominate the sport by taking the first three places in the U.S. Women's Open.

In the end, Creamer and her compatriots fared pretty well at Sebonack, with Creamer and Angela Stanford (1-over-par totals of 289) tied for fourth, nine strokes behind Park; 20-year-old Jessica Korda and Brittany Lang (2 over, 290) tied for seventh; Brittany Lincicome ninth (3 over, 291). Ten U.S. pros placed in the top 20.

But this is America, where there not only is a winning-is-everything mentality, but also a certain lack of international sports awareness.

"I've heard it so much, and it just makes me so mad," Stanford said. "Because it's not like the Americans aren't trying. And, at some point, it kind of makes me mad for the Asians, too, because, what are you saying? That they don't belong here? They don't belong on the tour?

"Players don't see it that way, and it really makes it tough on the players. People say, 'You're not winning.' They're pounding on us and, gosh, we're doing our best."

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Two years ago, Creamer won this event, but during televised coverage Sunday, a graphic noted how she has not won any of her 66 tournaments since then. She finished second three times.

"When you have a national championship, of course everybody in America is rooting for an American," Creamer said. "But you can't take away what Inbee is doing; it's elevating the game right now.

"Do I wish it were me? Sure. Will it make me work harder? Even more. An American champion is something we all look at with the U.S. Open. I think it's really about junior golf and giving kids an opportunity to play the game."

The Yanks just want to be appreciated a bit for their golf cred. "I saw a lot of American flags up there on the leader boards these last couple of days," Lang said. "One may not have been good enough to win, but there is a lot up there, which is a start, which is good."

Korda, the daughter of former Czech tennis champion Petr Korda, reminded that "players are from all around the world. It's not just U.S. players anymore. I think if an American won a major, it would probably spark something in the younger juniors, but I think sparks something, regardless."

It so happens that, of the top 16 non-American finishers in the Open, 15 live in either Florida or California, including Park, who went to UNLV and now splits time between Murrieta, Calif., and Seoul. So there is a sisterhood-without-borders among the pros.

"It's great to see when we have an Annika Sorenstam [a Swede] or Lorena Ochoa [Mexican] dominate the tour," Lincicome said. "Obviously, I wish it were an American player, but it's nice to see somebody" -- Park "has stepped up to the plate and is doing that."

And maybe an American will pounce from the fescue soon.

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