Paula Creamer rises to the occasion at the Solheim Cup


2009 Solheim CupSUGAR GROVE, Ill. ' Something happens to Paula Creamer every two years that is indescribable.
Sure, she loves Uncle Sam, loves the team atmosphere of the Solheim Cup and thrives under these circumstances, but its more than that. Her hatred for losing is what drives her. Winning consumes her when 11 teammates and an entire country are counting on her.
I cant figure out the one word that describes it, Creamer said.
Paula Creamer
Paula Creamer celebrates after winning her Sunday singles match. (Getty Images)
Essentially, she becomes possessed.
Creamer, 23, has now played in three of these biennial gatherings and three times has been the bright shining star for victorious United States teams.
Her debut came four years ago at Crooked Stick where as a 19-year-old she teamed with, oddly enough, this years U.S. captain Beth Daniel to record a halve in the opening foursomes. Two days later she drummed Laura Davies to the tune of 7 and 5 in singles and walked away with a 3-1-1 overall record.
It was a different year, same story in 2007 in Sweden when Creamer was 2-0-3 en route to a second consecutive American victory. There, under brutal weather conditions, Creamer plodded along and never lost a match.
Here in suburban Chicago , with the crowds in her favor, Creamer again turned into a maniac. She admitted that partner Cristie Kerr helped carry their opening fourball match Friday morning but Creamer did make crucial birdie bombs of 35 and 45 feet on Nos. 7 and 16 respectively to win the first point of the Solheim Cup against European heavyweights Sophie Gustafson and Suzann Pettersen.
Creamer sat out a session for the first time in her fledgling Cup career Saturday morning then came out in the afternoon and handily lost a foursomes match to Gustafson and Janice Moodie with favorite playing partner Juli Inskter.
It was this match, however, when Creamer officially took over the leadership reigns of the U.S. Solheim Cup team.
Neither she nor Inkster played well but Inkster struggled mightily. When the match was about to be concluded on the final green, Creamer walked over, put her arm around Inkster as if to say, Its OK, you tried your hardest. It was role reversal in its purest form between the wily veteran in her last Solheim Cup and the young stalwart playing in her third of many more to come.
Creamer was sent out first in Sunday singles as a reward from Daniel for being the Americans top point-earner for this Cup during the last two years. And she didnt disappoint. Creamer took down Pettersen, 3 and 2, to help set the tone for what would ultimately be a successful day for the U.S.
She lives and breathes the Solheim Cup, thats why I put her out first, Daniel said. She deserved that honor and I knew shed fight as hard as she could.
The singles victory pushed Creamers record to 3-1 this week, which gives her an astounding 8-2-4 overall record.
Ive showed more emotion the last three days than I have in my five years of being out on tour, Creamer said. All I know is that I come out and play some great golf for this.
Dont let the overall package deceive you. Sure, theres the pretty face, the sweet smile, the long blonde hair, a heart painted on her left cheek and a star painted on her right all in red, white and blue. But rest assured, Creamer always wants to rip the heart out of her opponent and hand it back. The girl wants to win that badly. When she smells blood in the waters, its over.
Here at Rich Harvest Farms Sunday, Creamer lost the first hole to Pettersen with an uncharacteristic bogey but rebounded with birdie on the next two holes to show that she had steadied her nerves. She made birdie on the 10th to take a 1-up advantage then gained an insurmountable lead when Pettersen bogeyed Nos. 12 and 14.
You could never ask for more from Paula Creamer, Daniel said.
Funny though that a performance like this has Creamer asking more of herself, as in more victories.
She has won eight times on the LPGA, which is a resume that other young stars like Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie would kill for. But Creamer would be the first to admit that she probably should have more victories and is more than a tad disappointed that she hasnt already collected a major championship.
The next step is to transfer the goods she produces at the Solheim Cup over into tournament play, especially the majors.
Its amazing, Creamer says. Three weeks in five years Ive played some of the best golf Ive ever played. Ive hit some of the best shots Ive ever hit and Ive hit some clutch putts, moments where you have to make it, I strive and thrive off the people.
Im going to sit back and think to myself, What is the difference? What Paula Creamer is it in the Solheim Cup that she can take into majors and other tournaments? I need to figure this out.
If she does, watch out.
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