Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans ...
Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lincicome know what John Lennon meant when he sang that line.
It’s hard to believe, but Creamer, Pressel and Lincicome have made the journey together in professional golf for more than a decade now. Once junior rivals, they have become the closest of friends.
The game’s twists and turns have taken them on different paths, but in the same direction, through similar peaks and valleys. They’ve grown closer together as confidants sharing their joy and pain.
In fact, the shared hardships might have been the strongest bonding agents.
“We are definitely closer now than we’ve ever been,” Pressel said as the trio prepares for the opening of the 2017 LPGA season in a little more than two weeks. “We’ve been through a lot together.”
It’s hard to believe Creamer turned 30 last August, Lincicome 31 last September, and that Pressel, who will turn 29 this season, is about to begin her 12th year on tour.
The trio came up together as prodigies, battling each other in American Junior Golf Association events, where they combined to win almost 30 times.
Creamer and Lincicome joined the LPGA as rookies in 2005, Pressel a year later.
They know what it’s like to reach the pinnacle of their sport, with each going on to win a major championship, Lincicome two of them. But they also know what it’s like to struggle to live up to the lofty expectations that came with their amateur resumes and their majors. They know what it’s like to struggle through disappointment, injury and slumps.
“We’ve shared a lot of memories, a lot of ups and downs,” Creamer said. “I always say we’re like sisters. We fight like sisters, and we love like sisters, but we’re always there for one another.”
Pressel learned early how real life doesn’t make provisions for golf prodigies.
When Pressel was 15, her mother, Kathryn Krickstein Pressel, died of breast cancer. Pressel launched her own foundation and in Monday’s annual Morgan & Friends Fight Cancer Tournament added another $1 million to her fight against breast cancer. Creamer and Lincicome were among the all-star cast of pro-am participants at St. Andrews County Club in Pressel’s Boca Raton, Fla., hometown.
“I’ll never forget the day Morgan’s mom passed away,” Creamer said. “There are no words to describe what Morgan’s done [with her event]. This is what I’m most proud of her for.”
There has been kinship in finding meaning together in the struggles, meaning beyond golf.
“We aren’t ashamed now to tell each other when bad things happen in our lives,” Creamer said. “You think people understand what you’re going through out here, but even your parents, they know and care about what you’re going through, but they don’t really know what you’re feeling.
“Morgan and Brittany, they understand the pressure. They understand what it’s like to work really hard and feel like you’re not getting the results for all that work.”
Creamer and her husband, Derek Heath, drove from their Orlando home to spend New Year’s Eve at the home of Morgan and her husband, Andy Bush.
“We cooked and drank some wine,” Pressel said.
How close are these three?
Pressel was Creamer’s matron of honor when Paula got married two years ago and Lincicome was a bridesmaid. Pressel was also Lincicome’s matron of honor when Brittany got married last year and Creamer was a bridesmaid. Creamer and Lincicome were both in Pressel’s wedding four years ago.
“I think helping each other through these big life events probably created an even tighter bond,” Pressel said.
They’ve come a long way, because in the beginning they were often in each other’s way, going for the same trophies.
“I remember meeting Morgan for the first time,” Creamer said. “We didn’t really get off to a great start. She was this fiery little thing. I was from California and she was from Florida, so we didn’t know each other very well in the beginning.
“We knew each other to say, `Hi, how are you?’ but we didn’t really talk. We didn’t hang out, but then we started making the same teams, the Canon Cup and Junior Solheim Cup, and we realized we could like each other, that we could be friends.”
Pressel won the Kraft Nabisco when she was 18 in 2007, becoming the youngest winner of a major at the time. Lincicome broke through to win the Kraft Nabisco in ’09 and Creamer the U.S. Women’s Open in ‘10.
There were struggles after that, with Pressel and Creamer both going through injury woes. There was shared pain trying to rebuild their games. Pressel slumped when her swing changed battling through a thumb injury in 2012, an injury that radiated into her wrist and her neck that year.
“When Morgan had her thumb injury, we talked almost every day,” Creamer said.
Creamer struggled through a series of her own physical woes, a mysterious stomach malady and other injuries, and more recently there were some frustrations changing her swing.
“It seems like one of us goes through something, and we all end up going through something similar,” Lincicome said. “It’s nice having a friend who can relate to what you’re going through, who you can call and say `I’m dealing with something. I could use some advice.’ And go to dinner and cry it out together.”
Someday, they envision going to LPGA daycare and watching their children play alongside each other.
“We talk about that all the time,” Creamer said. “I think Morgan’s going to be ready to have a baby before I am, but I’m ready to be Auntie to her kids.”
Though Lincicome might have been the last to get married, she suspects she’s the most eager to get a family started.
“Yeah, I think I’m more ready than they are,” Lincicome said. “But I think once one of us gets it started, it’s going to be like a ripple effect, with many kids coming at the same time. We’ve gone through junior golf together, professional golf together, weddings together, and one day I can see our kids together.”
This trio isn’t done competing, with all three gearing up to have good years. They’ve been teammates on the last five Solheim Cups and are looking to make it six this year.
Through the highs and lows, no matter what comes this year, they find comfort knowing they’ll celebrate or commiserate together.