Paula Creamer Potential in Pink

By Lisa D. MickeyDecember 8, 2004, 5:00 pm
Editors Note: Lisa D. Mickey is the director of communications for the Futures Golf Tour and a longtime member of the national golf media. For more information, about the Futures Tour, contact lisa@futurestour.com or visit futurestour.com.
 
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Paula Creamer whipped the field by five shots to earn her tour card at last weeks LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla. At age 18, shes young and poised. Always sporting her favorite color, pretty in pink, she is. Potent as a pro, she will become.
 
This is the same Northern California teen who hones her strokes at the David Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton, Fla., a training ground for stars on the rise. And this is the same quiet giant killer who has a classy Chris Evert-like internal drive, staring down bad shots and internalizing any error in a slow burn that dissipates before becoming destructive.
 
As an amateur, Creamer has already made established professionals look past their prime. She tied for second earlier this year at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. She made every tournament cut in the six LPGA events she played this summer and tied for 13th and low-amateur honors at this years U.S. Womens Open with fellow U.S. Curtis Cup team member Michelle Wie. At the Open, Wie played in the glaring spotlight; Creamer quietly went about her work on the golf course without the same massive galleries that trailed her amateur pal.
 
By summers end, Creamer would have earned a healthy six-figure salary if only her amateur status would have allowed a payday. But her biggest payoff was satisfaction and self-assurance that the largest decision of her young life was finally the right decision, at last. And while Creamer did not accept her $6,000 prize for besting the field at 11-under-par 349 in the 90-hole marathon, she accepted the knowledge that her game is now ready to erase the a behind her name. She arrived in Daytona as an amateur and departed as the professional she has always aspired to be.
 
Im not really surprised because I came into this tournament wanting to win, said Creamer, who caught herself and resisted the temptation to dance to Jingle Bell Rock blaring from the P.A. system hiding in the palm trees at LPGA International last Sunday afternoon. Its the end and its a new beginning and Im looking forward to whats going to happen next year.
 
Creamer used the Futures Tour Qualifying Tournament in early November as a tune-up for LPGA Q-School. She tied for medalist honors at that event with another teen, Brittany Lincicome, topping a whopping field of 277 players.
 
That helped me a lot because it showed me that I needed to tighten things up and work on my short game, said Creamer.
 
So, she went back to Bradenton, hunkered down on the practice tee for a month before LPGA Q-School and showed up in Daytona with veteran caddie Colin Cann on her bag. Cann spent several years on the bag of Annika Sorenstam, before taking the job with Se Ri Pak. He worked for Creamer at this years Wendys Championship for Children in one of her sponsors exemptions on the LPGA Tour, then he caddied again for the teen when she tied for fifth at the LPGAs Sectional Qualifying Tournament in Rancho Mirage, Calif., in late September. The two ham-and-egged it around LPGA International for five rounds,with Creamer playing like a combination of Pak in a good year and Sorenstam as the LPGAs dominator.
 
The best club in her bag is her head, said Cann after the tournament. She has what the best players have. She just makes things happen and she learns so quickly. Most of all, she didnt get caught up in the atmosphere.
 
That would have been an easy thing to do for Creamer or any teen whose decision between going to work and going to college hung in the balance of how she played five rounds of golf. Never mind that walking in her gallery were her sports psychologist, media consultant, her coach, a pair of agents from a sports management company, father Paul Creamer (a commercial airline pilot) and Duke Butler of the PGA Tour, who once served as the teens coach in an amateur team tournament. There was a certain ka-ching with every swing for the teen, who will command an estimated seven-figure endorsement for her 2005 rookie season. And while other top prospects also had eyes watching and waiting, with endorsements teetering in the balance, only Creamer cruised, making the 90-hole boot camp look like a pleasurable week of Florida winter golf.
 
This whole year has been geared around the possibility of coming to (the final) LPGA Q-School, said Creamers teacher, David Whelan, Director of Golf at the David Leadbetter Academy. All Ive done with Paula for the last three years is short-term projects leading to the long-term goal.
 
Whelan compared Creamers desire, ability and work ethic to that of another Leadbetter student, PGA Tour player Paul Casey.
 
Shes right up there, added Whelan. Ive worked for Leadbetter for 14 years and these kids are all good players, but you obviously sense that some are going to be better than others. Great players draw on stuff to motivate themselves. Paula needs these new challenges. She has learned how to win.
 
As Creamer, still poised, faced TV cameras and reporters after her final round, father Paul watched his daughter work outside the ropes. He couldnt wipe the smile off his face.
 
Its like watching her go off on the school bus for the first time, he said. Its a new chapter in her life.
 
Indeed, it is just starting. And while the teen probably did that little dance she resisted after it was all over, she made a statement both on and off the course last week. She might wear pink and giggle like a teenager outside the ropes, and she might blast the car radio with her coach, playing what he describes as noisy, whatever it is.
 
But at tournament time, Paula Creamer is all pro. The a behind her name is now history.
 
Related Links:
  • Creamer Wins Medalist Honors at LPGA Q-School
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.