PITTSFORD, N.Y. – A lot of challenges stack up for Paula Creamer this week.
They’re both competitive and emotional.
She will be paired with world No. 1 Yani Tseng and Stacy Lewis in the first two rounds of the Wegmans LPGA Championship, a special event for Creamer that carries a lot of heartfelt memories.
Locust Hill is a place Creamer has always wanted to win. Her grandfather, Tom Creamer, whom she called “Pops,” used to drive over from his home in Ithaca, N.Y., every year to watch Paula play. He was older, and he couldn’t travel a lot, so it was a convenient trip for him. They were very close. When “Pops” got sick earlier this season, Paula withdrew from the HSBC Champions in Singapore and flew back to the United State to be by his side. He died March 19 at age 94.
“This is my first time playing Wegmans without my grandpa, `Pops,’ being there,” Creamer said. “I think that’s going to be the hardest thing, just mentally. This will be more of a mental feat out on the golf course.”
The challenge is ratcheted up in the first two rounds with Creamer in the marquee pairing with Tseng and Lewis, the hottest player on tour.
Nobody gets paired with Tseng more than Creamer. This will mark the sixth and seventh times Creamer and Tseng will play together this season.
Creamer will be looking to change the momentum in their pairings. Tseng has posted the lower round every time they’ve played this year. In fact, Tseng seems to be at her best against Creamer. Tseng is 17-under in their five pairings together this season. Creamer is 3 over.
It should be noted, though, Creamer’s emotional state wasn’t the best in three of those pairings. Creamer was paired with Tseng in Singapore the day she learned of her grandfather’s worsening illness and withdrew to fly back to be with him. She also played with Tseng in the first two rounds of the Kia Classic the week after her grandfather passed.
“I do play with Yani a lot,” Creamer said. “I have this year, that’s for sure, but she is a good person to be paired with, and with Stacy, too, to be paired with the defending champion and last week’s winner. There are always big crowds here, and with this group, I think we’re going to have a lot of people watching.”
Creamer hasn’t won at Locust Hill, but she has some strong finishes. She finished second in ’05, tied for third last year and tied for 10th in ’08.
“This is by far one of my favorite stops,” Creamer said. “I’ve made a lot of friends here.”