By Jay A. Coffin
High school senior Paula Creamer has entered LPGA Q-School as an amateur so she can remain eligible for the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship. The decision also will allow her to keep her options open if she doesn’t earn LPGA exempt status.
The only certainty is that Creamer will graduate from high school in December. If she earns her card for 2005, she’ll turn professional and play a full tour schedule. If she fails to earn status, things gets tricky. Plan A would be for Creamer to still turn professional and seek a 2006 LPGA card by finishing in the top 90 in earnings through six sponsor exemptions. Plan B – which is unlikely – would be going to college in January. (Creamer is visiting Oklahoma State and Stanford in the next two weeks.) If Creamer does decide to choose the pro ranks over college, she has promised her parents that she’ll still graduate from college by taking courses over the Internet and at a local school during the offseason.
“Playing as an amateur takes a little pressure off,” Creamer told Golfweek Aug. 29. “But I’m pretty confident with my game right now. We’ll see what happens and go from there.”
The announcement is not a surprise (Golfweek, Aug. 21). The 18-year-old from Pleasanton, Calif., has had a breakout summer, making the cut in all six of her LPGA events with five top-18 finishes, including a runner-up finish at the ShopRite Classic. If Creamer were able to earn money she would have collected approximately $224,000 in earnings, good for 43rd on the money list. She still has an exemption into the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic this week in Tulsa, Okla.
Creamer also was a member of the victorious U.S. Curtis Cup team and advanced to the semifinals of both the U.S. Girls’ Junior and the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
The highlight of the summer, Creamer says, was her Women’s Open performance (T-13), which earned her an exemption for 2005.
“It’s been great,” Creamer said of what likely will be her final summer as an amateur. “Hopefully it’s just beginning, and hopefully it’s going to get better.”
The first stage of LPGA Q-School is Sept. 21-24 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and Oct. 5-8 at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla. Final 90-hole qualifying is Dec. 1-5 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.