Pain and Suffering and Victory

By Randall MellJuly 12, 2010, 5:26 am

2010 U.S. Women

OAKMONT, Pa. – When Dr. Thomas Hunt cut open Paula Creamer’s left thumb three-and-a-half months ago, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

Before the surgical procedure, he told Creamer’s parents in his Birmingham, Ala., office that it would take a little more than an hour to tighten up stretched ligaments.

More than three hours later, after reconstructing her thumb, he told Paul and Karen Creamer what they already knew.

He told them their daughter must be one fierce little competitor with a hell of a threshold for pain.

“He asked, `How is it possible that she played golf for seven months with a thumb like that?’” Paul said.

Papa and Mama Creamer knew what the doctor surmised before asking.

It’s the same answer the Creamers will offer if you ask them how it is their daughter won the U.S. Women’s Open Sunday with that reconstructed thumb swelling so profusely that it was straining to break the support tape wrapping it.

Or if you ask them how it is she tamed brutish Oakmont Country Club just seven weeks after she began hitting golf balls in her comeback from the surgery.

“Determination, willpower, refusal to quit,” Paul Creamer says. “That’s the blend with Paula.”

Dr. Hunt could see those qualities when he cut open Creamer’s thumb in late March. He could see them realizing she was playing golf for more than half a year with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, a torn volar plate and a damaged tendon.

Paula Creamer
Creamer withstood Oakmont's challenges to capture her first career major. (Getty Images)

Anyone watching Creamer play the 12th hole Sunday could see what won her this championship.

After hitting her approach into the green there, she hopped off her shot, howling and yelping in pain. It was the first time she let anyone see the pain like that this week.

Her caddie, Colin Cann, said Creamer felt jolts like that more than once in shooting 2-under-par 69 Sunday marching to her 3-under 281 total.

“She’s just used to hiding it well,” he said. “That one there, it really shot up her arm.”

Doctors told Creamer she couldn’t hurt the thumb any worse playing this summer, so she returned to tournament golf four weeks ago. She did so determined to get herself ready for Oakmont knowing her thumb wouldn’t be fully healed yet. She did so because she hated missing the first major of her career in April withdrawing from the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She did so because she desperately wanted to make the U.S. Women’s Open her first major championship triumph.

“I believed I could do this,” Creamer said. “I believed I could do this when I had a cast on my hand. What I just kept thinking about was `Oakmont, Oakmont, Oakmont.’ And here we are. It’s just amazing.”

Creamer, 23, arrived at Oakmont with eight LPGA titles but no majors among them. She was asked about the hole in her resume upon arriving at every major the last four or five years.

“We never have to get asked that question again,” Creamer said.

Creamer won this week with a brilliant all-around game. She showed no weaknesses. She ranked third in fairways hit, eighth in greens in regulation, third in putting and was a respectable 47th in driving distance.

That isn’t what won her the championship, though. Not really. They’re just the byproducts of the willful spirit that won this.

The journey that ended with her hoisting the U.S. Women’s Trophy began long before she stepped foot on Oakmont. There were lessons losing the U.S. Women’s Open at Interlachen two years ago and at Saucon Valley last year. A shot off the lead after 54 holes at Interlachen, she closed with a disappointing 78. A stroke off the lead going into the third round at Saucon Valley, she shot herself out of contention with a 79. She put up those scores in the final groups.

There were lessons learned losing, but there were even larger lessons not even playing.

Twenty months ago, Creamer contracted that mysterious stomach malady. She lost more than 10 pounds and endured great angst visiting specialist upon specialist trying to find out what was wrong with her. She never got an answer with the malady plaguing her for almost a year. And with the stomach pains finally leaving her last summer, she hurt her thumb hitting a shot out of the rough at the Wegmans LPGA. For nine months, she couldn’t shake the pain. There was a mystery to that injury with Creamer visiting four hand specialists.

“We explored every possibility,” Paul said. “We left no stone unturned.”

The hand specialists all agreed that she was suffering from stretched ligaments. She was prescribed rest and rehab. So Paula rested and rehabbed, but she couldn’t shake the injury.

The family visited the Louisville Slugger factory to have a special glove made to help her. It didn’t work. They visited the Philadelphia Phillies, where the training staff made special splints for her. Those didn’t work either.

Through it all, the angst of not knowing what was wrong hurt Creamer as much as the pain.

“There was a time before my surgery where I thought, `Oh my gosh, I may never play golf again,” Paula said.

With the thumb pain unrelenting, Paul and Karen saw what nobody else did.

Before the surgery, they saw their daughter’s fear.

“All the doctors had said the same thing,” Paul said. “They said avoid surgery at all costs.

“It was an emotional time. It really was. She put her head on my shoulder one night at home and cried because she didn’t know if she would ever play again.”

The U.S. Women’s Open, more than any other major championship in women’s golf, is about pain and suffering. In the end, nobody was more prepared to endure the punishment Oakmont would dish out than Creamer. Nobody was more determined to overcome it.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump