An Interview With: Paula Creamer

RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, we're so pleased to welcome Paula Creamer here. She's in her rookie year as a professional.

As you know her USGA experience is vast: She was a member of the 2004 U.S.A. Curtis Cup team and as rookie, she's already won one tournament, and almost won another one last week.

Paula, I once heard Tom Watson say that you don't really learn anything when you win, that you learn most of what you know about golf when you lose. Did you take any good lessons away from last week?

PAULA CREAMER: Oh, I did. That was amazing how well Lorena played in those seven holes. She was just unstoppable. I tried, I tried to do everything I could, but I mean, it was just one of those things where it was her hour and a half, and she played well.

RHONDA GLENN: You think maybe you learned that you will have an hour and a half where things will start to fall in place?

PAULA CREAMER: I know whenever I am 5 down with whatever, seven holes to go, that it not possible, that you could win and anything can happen out there, and just to stay positive and fight through it.

RHONDA GLENN: Questions.

Q. You have been fairly used to the attention and you have been in the spotlight the last couple of years. How much did things change though when you won Sybase?

PAULA CREAMER: I think it just more, I guess, you could say more respect from other players and just myself, I set my expectations and my goals very high, and I haven't achieved all of them yet. But for myself and I feel very good about that, but from other people, there is a little difference kind of the way they look at you or something.

Q. How about your classmates?

PAULA CREAMER: Where I come from I am surrounded by athletes. They know what it takes to win. They know how hard it is to be the top of your sport, so they appreciate it. When I came home it was really fun to have a win, and they all were very happy.

Q. After that win didn't you have graduation ceremonies right after?

PAULA CREAMER: The week after I took the week after off. Corning I took off.

Q. I mean you flew back two days before graduation or did you fly --

PAULA CREAMER: No, my graduation was -- tournament ended Sunday, my graduation was Thursday. I got home Monday night.

Q. After how many practice rounds you have had, two, three, whatever it is, could you give a guesstimate on what you think the final winning score would be? Above par, below par something like that? Then I have a follow-up after that.

PAULA CREAMER: Definitely I think under par. I'd say it just depend if it rains, the golf course gets softer. It's tough to say. Anywhere from I think 7-under to about 8-under would be a good -- ripping a golf ball and here pretty good. Somewhere in that range. It all depends on the weather.

Q. I saw that you had your wrist with some pretty heavy ice on it before. Is it troubling you or something you typically do after a round?

PAULA CREAMER: No, I have a ligament next to my bone in here, my wrist, that's loose and it causes, like when you it kind of like, a jamming-type of thing. Trying to get the swelling down. My hand, it's pretty big right now so I am trying to make it go down, and feel I have to ice it at least five times a day.

Q. Last year at the Open you had a really good tournament and I was wondering how much that influenced your decision to turn pro or at that point had you already made the decision or maybe a week before that or two weeks, you had finished second, was it a combination of all those things or did it have any impact?

PAULA CREAMER: Well, I had a stretch there where I played I think it was seven tournaments, it was including The Open that were all professional events. I played well through that stretch and from that I took out of it I can play, pretty busy schedule and I can do well, and I took a lot of experiences from that week to make my decision.

So, yes this had a big influence, but the whole process of the seven weeks did.

Q. As a teenager competing against the players, like from the older players, like Meg Mallon to the stars like Annika, is it tougher for you? Have you grown up faster maybe because of that?

PAULA CREAMER: I don't think so. It's just going out here, I try to take care of my own business. I try to just play my game and I am going to be playing against the greatest players in the world every day and I think that that's fantastic, that only helps me get better and only helps me motivates me to be the No. 1 player in the world.

Q. A lot of golf fans obviously know all about your career, how it's taken off so quickly but to the casual fan you are probably the second popular teenager. Does that bother you? Do you care about that? Do you understand where it comes from maybe?

PAULA CREAMER: Can you repeat the question.

Q. For the casual fan who doesn't really follow golf and know a lot, they all know about Michelle. Michelle is this mega future superstar. They don't realize that there's a true professional teenager who has won and who is doing the same thing she's doing, kind of under the radar though. How do you feel about that?

PAULA CREAMER: I can't really do anything about it. I can only, like I said, control myself and as long as I keep being in contention in tournaments, that's the only thing that matters to myself. At the end of the year I just want to meet my expectations, of course make Solheim Cup. I don't really worry about that too much. I just try to play golf.

Q. Speaking of under the radar, I understand you have been doing some things, donating the winnings from the Nancy Lopez Award and some of your personal money to benefit community organizations. Why do you think that's important and maybe what do you hope to inspire in the other players to do so?

PAULA CREAMER: I would love to help junior girls and boys have the opportunities to get involved with golf and definitely I donate my money to the First Tee. I think that that's -- I have helped out in those, on the First Tee program several times and I feel that it's a great organization. I hope that my checks can get bigger and bigger to them each week. I think that it's awesome and I keep in touch with a lot of the girls, e-mail and things like that. I think it's very important to give back even though I have only been out here for a couple of months. Still, I think that it's very important.

Q. Your plans are to continue to do so?

PAULA CREAMER: Yes.

Q. Did you expect to win so quickly when you got out here as a pro, and also, these last two events would you call this the best golf of your life that you are playing right now?

PAULA CREAMER: No. I have played good golf. I have hit the ball better than this but I haven't scored. It's just it's one of those things where I have been just very consistent the last couple of weeks. I have taken third, then second. Now I am at The Open. I think that it's just knowing that I have been playing good and I have been keeping it pretty much the same each week, that that helps you be in contention more and coming into big events.

I did expect myself to win because, like I said, my expectations are very high and I knew if I wanted to make Solheim Cup, I needed to win a couple of times out on Tour. So I am still trying to get some more wins so I can get some more points. But I think that at the end of the year, I will be content with what I have done so far, but I'd like to do more.

Q. Do you think there should be an age minimum to play like on the LPGA or NBA or NHL?

PAULA CREAMER: Well, for which -- I can't really say for...

Q. As a 15-year-old that wants to play on the LPGA Tour. Not Michelle but another one.

PAULA CREAMER: She went to the academy. I know her.

Q. Do you think she should be able to go through qualifying school and become a professional at that age?

PAULA CREAMER: I really don't have an opinion on that right now. I think that, you know, I can only really speak for myself. I don't know how she is, you know, in her life or where she's at with everything. But I think for me, 18 was a good age but for other people I think they think that's way too young or I guess now for them that's too old. I don't really have an opinion on that. I can only tell you on what I think about myself.

Q. General thoughts on Cherry Hills.

PAULA CREAMER: Awesome golf course. The fairways are like carpet and the greens, they are tricky and I don't think that they are going to get really quick. Obviously over the weekend they will get faster, but there are so many slopes, there's never a straight putt and I think that -- it's a great U.S. Open golf course.

I think it's fantastic. It's a challenge out here and you really have to play good golf and you have to stay focused the whole round.

Q. When and how did you decide to go to the academy?

PAULA CREAMER: I was 14 when I went to the academy.

Q. I read you just plugged in the Internet?

PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I found out about it through just the Internet and just hearing about it, and then my mom and dad checked it out, then we went and visited Florida twice and I fell in love with it, and it was kind of like a match made in heaven for myself. I was surrounded by excellent athletes and I had all the training that I needed there.

Q. Of all the things that you may have benefited from there, what comes out as number one looking back?

PAULA CREAMER: I think that I have just taken so many things from it. There's not one, I mean, if it wasn't for my coach or for my fitness trainer, whatever, there's just -- they all make the package. I have been just surrounded by a great team there. There's not one thing that I don't think that I -- probably meeting all the great athletes there is a good thing. I met Michael Johnson. I see him a lot. I think that just being around that motivates me.

Q. People your age push one another, I am sure?

PAULA CREAMER: Definitely.

Q. Being so young but having to travel around the country for your job, do you ever have any logistical problems like renting a car perhaps or using credit cards? Have you run into anything like that?

PAULA CREAMER: I have no problem using the credit card, I can tell you that. Definitely okay in that department (laughter.) I can't rent a car. My mom and dad are with me every week. I can't do that. But other than that they help me with everything.

Like I said, I have great team around me to take care of me and get me to where I need to go. I am very lucky that I have a great supporting team.

Q. Meg Mallon said earlier as a veteran player that she's not offended at all by the talk about this being a one-woman Tour with Annika. She said Annika's dominance is a great thing to behold. You as an emerging star, what is your reaction to that? Does it get your competitive fire going at all?

PAULA CREAMER: Of course. She's at the place where I want to be, so I think that she's helping me. I have to work harder than her. I have to get stronger than her. She can only benefit me because she's dominating women's golf right now.

RHONDA GLENN: You look as if you are covered with star dust. You have little sparkles.

PAULA CREAMER: My lotion has sparkles in it.

Q. From when you started playing to now have you noticed a big change in the technology? Has it changed your game? Has it helped your game over the last few years?

PAULA CREAMER: I would think so, yes. Just little things. When I first started playing golf I had the old Persimmon woods now I have seven drivers, things like that. So I think it has definitely been more forgiving and I am glad that I am in the era of the new equipment right now.

RHONDA GLENN: Since you have turned professional, have you been paying more attention to your equipment or has the company been more attentive to you, making sure you have the right thing.

PAULA CREAMER: Yes, Taylor Made is definitely doing a great job with my irons and my driver. I just switched to a new 3-wood this week. I have never really been into all the clubs kind of thing. Whatever is in there, it works, that's fine. I don't need to know everything about it. That's just how I have always been.

But it's very nice that you know, that everybody is taking care of you.

Q. Someone like Natalie Gulbis has a high comfort level with promoting the Tour outside of golf and using her looks to promote the Tour. What is your comfort level with non-golf things and do you plan on kind of following in that same path?

PAULA CREAMER: I am just right now I think that everything is just so new to me, I am just trying to experience life right now on Tour. I hope that -- I mean, I know I will be doing some things later on, but it's not going to be crazy at first. We're taking it tournament by tournament and we'll see by the end of the year.

Q. What is your opinion on 18 hole being the par 4, long par 4? I know you like pink and your caddie wears a pink hat on the last day and stuff. Anything that's upcoming, maybe golf bag getting pink or anything like that in the near future that we should wait for?

PAULA CREAMER: Well, I have a lot of pink things. I think only thing we're missing is the pink bag right now. But I have my pink grips, shafts, my driver and my 3-wood.

But to answer your question about the 18th hole, I think it's a great hole. Coming down 18 and you are one back or two ahead that's going to be exciting because that hole can either help you or it can hurt you. So I think it's a good, challenging hole and you have to be able -- it all depends on the wind. If you are into the wind, you have to hit a long club into there. If it's down wind you hit an 8-iron. So it's depending on that.

Q. Other than the glitter and the pink, people always say you are really mature beyond your years.

PAULA CREAMER: Are you saying my glitter is not mature?

Q. With the maturity and poise, does that come naturally to you or is that something you had to cultivate?

PAULA CREAMER: I think that the main thing for me is that I used to be a gymnast and a dancer. I had to be able -- I had to be able to perform in front of thousands of people, so I don't know, I just feel very comfortable. It's just kind of the same thing every day, kind of a daily basis and I like it. I think it's nice. It would be sad if I didn't have it, that means I am not doing anything out in the golf course.

Q. With a few more teenagers here this week than your typical LPGA event, do you like having a few more people your age around or do you feel like you have moved onto another level completely now?

PAULA CREAMER: I don't think it really doesn't matter to me who is at an event now. It's nice to see my friends again that I haven't seen for a while. But it doesn't really bother me. It's a U.S. Open, so it's nice that there's going to be a lot of people that aren't normally at LPGA events, but it good to see my old friends. I already played with a couple of them this week.

RHONDA GLENN: You have about half the Curtis Cup here.

PAULA CREAMER: Yeah. We went to Curtis Cup dinner, so it's been very nice to see everybody.

Q. Has the wrist problem altered how you have approached these practice rounds these past few days?

PAULA CREAMER: A little bit. If there's a shot in the rough that I won't hit, that kind of thing. Most of the time when you are in the rough, you are just going to have to hit a 58 degree wedge out of it, so there's really no point in me trying that. I am very aware of when I need to hit a practice shot or not because of my wrist.

Q. One more Annika question for you: When you were coming up, in developing, did you study her game and think about the things that she does well? And then when you found yourself playing against her, have you found yourself thinking, I am going to do this like her?

PAULA CREAMER: I think more now than before because I get to see her pretty much all the time out practicing. The main thing that I have learned from Annika is that she goes to the golf course, she gets her work done, then she leaves. She doesn't hang around. She doesn't sit around in the locker room or things like that. She's just very time efficient. That's what I have been trying to do to take that from her. There's lots of little things that I watch from Annika.

She's the No. 1 player on the board, I mean, some of the things that works for her probably won't work for me, but I still like to see what she does.

Q. What are the little things that you notice?

PAULA CREAMER: Just I mean, minute things, just the way how she goes about her routine, what she's working on in the putting green or chipping, just watching her daily routine, I think that you learn a lot from that, even though like I said, it may not work for you, but it's just to see what the No. 1 player in the world is doing.

Q. Your coach is withe David Leadbetter Academy. Is his method close to what David Leadbetter teaches or is it like his own thing?

PAULA CREAMER: I have never worked with David Leadbetter, so I don't know what his type of method is. But with David it's helped me a lot. I think that the whole academy it's a great place, working with David. I have had another coach there, too, before David.

Q. What about a couple of years back from Michael Johnson, few anecdotes of what you learned from people that you were around there?

PAULA CREAMER: Where I am at there are so many great athletes that come through that. Serena and Venus have been there. With Michael Johnson he's just so real about everything. It's not a fake kind of thing, so he tells you, just hearing stories about from what he went through, his training and how much dedication that he went through, and to give things up and things like that, but it's just the things that he tells me.

He called me after my win to say congratulations. I mean, that's awesome. I think that was one of the nicest phone calls that I got, I mean, things like that, and just he helps me through what I need to mentally kind of work on.

Q. So he was sort of a mentor?

PAULA CREAMER: Kind of, yeah.

RHONDA GLENN: We thank you so much.

End of FastScripts.


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