Paula Creamer has come out of the gigantic shadow cast by her fellow teen-ager, Michelle Wie. Last week Paula won for the second time ' thats this year, in professional tour events, while still at the youthful age of 18. She has left Wie ' and virtually all the LPGA save Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa ' in the dust.
Last week it was the Evian Masters in France ' now, theres an exciting possibility for an 18-year-old, making a ton of money while working in France. Oh yes - she won there ' did I say that? She won by eight shots over a field that included, yes, Ms. Sorenstam.
She recently participated in her high school graduation in Bradenton, Fla., where she had moved four years ago from Pleasanton, Cal., to pursue golf on a 365-day basis. She persuaded her parents that was what she wanted more than anything else on earth. Paula was 14 at the time, but her parents hesitantly agreed, renting a condo while keeping their house in Northern California just in case.
I know I've not lived the normal teenage life, said Creamer. I know that. I realized that when we moved to Florida and I'm trying to pursue my dreams and being here right now.
But for me, I think that on the golf course, I'm a totally different person. When I'm here, it's all business. I mean, this is my job now. This is what I have to do and I love doing it and that makes it even better.
Poppa is a pilot for American Airlines, and he was able to transfer his base from San Francisco to Miami. It was he who asked the big question of Paula when she was 14 and trying to decide whether to be a cheerleader or be a golfer: Do you want to cheer for people or have people cheer for you? And there really was only one answer, Paula decided.
It certainly isnt easy when you have to leave your friends and your home and uproot yourself across the continent, just because of golf. But Paula is whats known as a phenom. That not withstanding, though, she still is just a girly-girl when shes not with the women who play the tour.
When I'm off the golf course and I'm away from, you know, golfers, I'm just a normal 18 year old, she says. I like to do everything. I like to go shopping, hang out, all of the things that other people do.
It's just I have a job right now and a lot of the other teenagers that I know and my friends, they don't, and that's the difference. But off the course - normal girl.
Normal girl sort of. Creamer realizes that she has missed out ' is going to miss out ' on a lot of juicy little things that come the way of normal girls. But how many girls make $375,000 while working a week in France? How much MORE comes her way now that normal girls never have a chance of experiencing? Paula thinks its a hugely beneficial trade-off.
This is what I want to do, she said resolutely. I'm happy doing this. I have so much fun out on the golf course. Golf is so enjoyable because every day is different. It's not going to be the same thing twice. That's what I really enjoy.
I mean, there's times, of course, where I just want to go home and sleep or go home and just do nothing. But in the back of my mind, I have my goals and my dreams that I want to achieve.
She played at several sports when she was growing up ' acrobatic dance, softball, soccer. She lived off the first hole at a club in Pleasanton, her father was a single-digit handicapper, but she had never played when several friends suggested taking lessons when she was 12. Paula grudgingly went along, and found that she thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now, though she is still just a girl herself, she counsels other little girls who might want to play golf.
I think just to have fun with it, she said, and realize that I've always said to little girls, There are other girls out there that want to dream about what you're dreaming about and you're not alone. It's a sport that is getting bigger and bigger over the years.
I remember when I was 12 years old, getting involved with golf, I played with the boys. There weren't any girls, but there are (golfers); you just have to kind of look around and find them.
Her talent ' and in no small measure her looks ' have already persuaded three companies to jump on the Creamer bandwagon: ADT, Royal Bank of Scotland and addidas. Undoubtedly there are going to be a lot of new contracts because of her success this year. And Creamer leaped into the top 10 in the Solheim Cup standings with the win at Evian. That, she says, was the ultimate goal this year. And it looks like that goal will be achieved.
You know, I hope I bring it in a positive way, said Paula. I'm out here just trying to achieve my dreams and play golf and (do it) for the good of the game.
And also, I hope that there's more younger girls that get involved with it as well. I'm 18, so I think with that, that helps out with teenagers that are trying to get here and know that they can do it.
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