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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    Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

    But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

    "Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

    Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

    Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

    "I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

    Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

    "I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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    Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

    Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

    But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

    "Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

    It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

    "I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."

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    Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

    SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

    Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

    ''I hope I win more,'' Kang said. ''I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.''

    Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).

    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

    Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

    Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

    By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

    If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

    Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

    “You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

    In context, Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

    And out of context, the comment speaks to the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

    But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

    Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

    He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

    “To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

    What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

    Who’s the best at their best?

    In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

    It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it will be fatigue, maybe it will be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is simply too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

    But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good to be overlooked any longer.

    And he’s far from done.

    “For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”