Sunday, July 11

Creamer Rises to the Top

2010 U.S. Women’s Open Recap
Winner: Paula Creamer
Score: 3 under, 281 (72, 70, 70, 69)
Quote: “I believed I could do this.”
Fact: She didn’t watch leaderboards.
Thought: Mental toughness wins majors.

PAULA CREAMER IS A major champion. What so many have long expected since the talented California native turned professional five years ago finally came to pass today under blue skies at Oakmont Country Club in western Pennsylvania. She is only 23, but doesn’t it seem that Paula has been grinding for that first major victory for quite a while?

Count me among those who were thoroughly impressed by Creamer’s performance. I know Oakmont was playing soft after the heavy rain on Friday. It’s still Oakmont, though. Playing through pain in the aftermath of surgery to her left thumb, Paula was the only player in red numbers for 72 holes, shooting 3-under par to win by four strokes over Na Yeon Choi and Suzanne Pettersen. She saved her best round for last, a 2-under 69.

Few players have a four-shot cushion when they play the final hole of a U.S. Open (a dream scenario and then you wake up), but apparently Creamer didn’t know it. Paula said afterwards that she didn’t look at a leaderboard until the 18th green.

“That was a goal of mine,” she said, “to just go and play the golf course, and if somebody played awesome, then somebody did. I didn’t want to change my game plan.”

How do you explain a first major after so much adversity and such a long layoff? Paula was obviously not at anywhere near her best physically—she could only hit 40 balls in warm up, winced in pain on the course, and told the press she was about 60 percent. She had only played four events coming into the national championship, missing the cut last week at the Jamie Farr Classic.

“It just shows,” Paula said, “how much the mental side of golf can really take over.”

There’s also the experience and maturity Creamer gained from disappointments at the last two U.S. Women’s Opens at Interlachen and Saucon Valley. And there’s the putting, which this time was superb on Oakmont’s crazy fast and undulating greens.

Because of Paula’s extreme popularity—and because an American has won the U.S. Women’s Open—this is bound to be a huge lift for women’s golf and the LPGA Tour. With Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa gone, the game needs star power, and Paula has it in mega-wattage. Now she also has her first of what may be many majors.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

7 comments :

bkuehn1952 said...

It is great to see an athlete perform at his or her peak when the chips are down. Often big events are won by playing conservative and avoiding errors; allow everyone else to make mistakes and back into the title. In this case Ms. Creamer won the US Open - it did not matter what everyone else was doing.

The Armchair Golfer said...

I agree. I was extremely impressed by Paula's shotmaking and composure at Oakmont, one of the best displays I've seen by anyone in quite a while.

Gail said...

Ms. Creamer should be an inspiration to us all. She remained focused and showed herself as a true champion

Parshooters said...

Not only is she a good golfer, she has great looks as well. The complete package. Being young, she'll be one of the ladies dominating on the tour. Hopefully she can win enough tournaments to keep the South Koreans from taking over the L.P.G.A. tour.

Jim Dauer, FullForesome.com said...

I really liked her approach of not watching the leaderboard. Just go out and play a solid round of golf and may the best golfer win. Very rarely do people play better when they play more aggressive or conservative based on the leaderboard.

That being said, I would've hated to see her standing on the 17th tee, down by one stroke, unaware of the fact she should be hitting driver.

World Golfers Haven said...

I say she's awesome

Laura said...

I love the underdog and am a great believer in the power of positive thinking. Yay for Paula and her ability to push her own boundaries, as well as her competitor's!