Paula Creamer rises to the occasion at the Solheim Cup

By Jay CoffinAugust 23, 2009, 4:00 pm
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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    Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

    Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

    “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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    The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

    “The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

    The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

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    Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

    There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

    That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

    Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

    Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

    “We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

    But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

    The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

    That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

    Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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    Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

    “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

    While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

    For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

    “I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

    But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

    Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

    They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

    “I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

     Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

    “Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

    Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

    It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

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    Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

    By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

    We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

    But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

    One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

    It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

    And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

    Hey, whatever works.

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    Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

    Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

    The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

    “I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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    Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

    “I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”