DUNSANY, Ireland – The Solheim Cup is Paula Creamer’s playground. Sure, she tries to win every LPGA tournament she enters, but during this one week every two years, she turns into an emotionally charged machine that refuses to lose.
Don’t let the pretty packaging deceive you. Beyond her sweet smile, long blond hair and red, white and blue face paint, Creamer wants to rip the heart out of her opponents this week.
“I don’t want to lose,” Creamer said. “No one wants to lose, but for this one week, it’s bigger than that.”
Creamer, 25, is the heart and soul of the U.S. Solheim Cup team. She was the shining star for victorious teams in each of the last three of these biennial gatherings, and there is no reason to believe this year at Killeen Castle will be different.
She made her Solheim Cup debut in 2005 as a 19-year-old at Crooked Stick, teaming with Beth Daniel to record a half-point in opening foursomes. Two days later she thumped Laura Davies, 7 and 5, in singles and walked away with a 3-1-1 overall record.
A similar story developed in 2007 in Sweden, where Creamer went 2-0-3 en route to a second consecutive American victory. There, in brutal weather, Creamer never lost a match.
Two years ago in suburban Chicago, with a partisan U.S. crowd, Creamer again was spectacular. She admitted that partner Cristie Kerr helped carry their opening four-ball match, but Creamer made crucial birdie bombs of 35 and 45 feet to help win the first point of that Solheim Cup against European heavyweights Sophie Gustafson and Suzann Pettersen.
In six short years, Creamer has compiled an 8-2-4 record and become the undisputed leader of this team. In fact, it was Juli Inkster who unknowingly handed the leadership reins to Creamer two years ago when the two lost a foursomes match in which Inkster struggled mightily. When the match concluded, it was Creamer who walked over to console the veteran.
“She loves teaming up with different players, she loves to represent her country, she just uses that as an energy,” U.S. captain Rosie Jones said. “She’s a great Solheim player and she happens to be playing very well right now, which is a plus.
“But even if Paula wasn’t playing well right now, she’d be playing well in the Solheim anyways.”
Creamer realizes she’s a different player at the Solheim Cup. She wants to be that same kind of player throughout an entire LPGA season.
Following a successful Solheim Cup in Sugar Grove, Ill., Creamer made a point to study her own idiosyncrasies during those matches. She feels she learned so much from that exercise that it helped her capture her first major championship, the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open.
“I’ve looked at my intensity, I’ve looked at my demeanor on the golf course, everything about it,” Creamer told GolfChannel.com on Wednesday. “I’ve tried to look at myself. How did I pump myself up? What did I say? What did my partner say to me that got me going? What is it that’s different?
“I’ve found that there’s an intensity in my eyes - I even walk different. It’s all confidence. Winning is about confidence and believing in yourself. When I’m here, on the team with 11 other girls, I feel that way. I feel confident. I know I can do it.”
Captain Jones said Wednesday that she has made a mental note of which players she would like to play in all five matches. It’s safe to say Creamer is at the top of that list, and Kerr is a close second.
It’s also likely that Creamer will pair with Inkster again in foursomes at least once. They are 3-1 together in that format, losing their only match two years ago to Gustafson and Janice Moodie, 4 and 3, when Inkster struggled.
“I make her tick,” Inkster joked when asked to describe Creamer, her most frequent partner over the last three Cups. “Paula has got heart, she’s got spunk and she loves the Solheim Cup.
“You don’t have to get her all fired up. She’s fired up as soon as she gets on the plane. Plus, she’s got a little bit of talent to go along with that, so that kind of adds up to success.”
Success the Americans hope to ride for the fourth consecutive time.