Joy, relief for Creamer in Singapore win
PHOTOS: Paula Creamer wins HSBC Champions
Paula Creamer celebrates making a 75-foot eagle putt on the second playoff hole to beat Azahara Munoz, winning her first LPGA title since the 2010 U.S. Women's Open.
Nothing can wipe the smile from Paula Creamer’s face. She’s in love; she’s healthy; and, once again, she’s a winner. The emotions that poured out on the 18th hole in Singapore, the rush of joy, shock and an overwhelming sense of relief literally brought Creamer to her knees.
“It was like somebody just knocked the wind out of me,” she said. “It was pretty amazing.”
Draining a 75-foot putt for eagle on the second playoff hole to end a winless streak of 79 tournaments will do that. Creamer’s victory at the HSBC Women’s Champions is the 10th of her LPGA career, and in some ways, maybe the most satisfying.
Creamer, who started the day four shots behind Karrie Webb, shot 69 on Sunday to force a playoff with Spain’s Azahara Munoz.
“That putt, it's pretty much impossible to putt it and to hold it,” Munoz said of Creamer’s big-breaking bomb on 18. “So nothing you can do about (it), just congratulate her.”
A lot has happened to Creamer, 27, since she won the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont. She has experienced heartbreak and loss both on and off the course. That wacky nine-hole playoff with Jiyai Shin at Kingsmill in 2012 was perhaps the most are-you-kidding-me moment of that timespan. The drought, at times, was a dark place.
“I was enjoying what I was doing, but I wasn't loving it,” Creamer said. “It was hard. My thumb hurt. My arm hurt. . . . I know my potential and I know how hard I work, and you can't control anybody else, but I wasn't living up to my own expectations ... not what people thought I should do. I just wasn't living up to my own, and it was tough.”
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Paula Creamer, aka the Pink Panther, has a few off-course hobbies, but the one that tops her list is her 1-year-old dog Studley. Check out the gallery here.
Creamer and her coach, David Whelan, have worked tirelessly for years on changes to her swing. Throughout the week in Singapore they were sending videos back and forth trying to work out kinks. Creamer’s longtime coach has been a big part of her success, as has Colin Cann, the only caddie she has ever had on tour.
Since Creamer turned professional and joined the LPGA in 2005, her team hasn’t changed. Mom and dad still live down the street at Isleworth, and while they don’t travel as much anymore, Paul and Karen Creamer are still very much a part of this tightly-knit family.
Paul Creamer got the first phone call after the victory lap at Sentosa Golf Club, but rest assured, the second call couldn’t come quickly enough.
“We’re not married yet so my dad would have been upset if I called Derek first,” Creamer said of her fiance.
Creamer met Derek Heath last March at the Kia Classic. The Air Force pilot is the son of a family friend. The couple’s fathers flew together in the Navy. Derek proposed last December while skydiving.
“To have met my match and to have met the man of my dreams, basically, you can't take anything away from that,” Creamer said. “There's 100 percent reason why I'm sitting here today the way that I am. He just makes me happier and makes me – allows me to play better golf.”
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Jay Burton, the only agent Creamer has ever known, has seen her through all the boyfriends she’s ever had, and saw a different Paula last summer in Rochester, N.Y., at the LPGA Championship.
“She has never been radiant like she is with Derek,” Burton said.
The IMG agent was at his home in Cleveland this weekend watching his grandson and said it would’ve been “megaphone-city” at 3 a.m. Sunday if he wasn’t worried about waking a certain special 4-year-old.
Instead, he was “bouncing around like a mime” in the dark watching his longtime client end a frustrating streak of near-misses. It’s a storyline that Creamer and her camp is glad to see come to an end.
And now we turn to the next question: When will she do it again?