MOBILE, Ala. – Every week on the LPGA tour, there are a handful of players who generate the same handful of questions. Different city (or country), same lingering storylines.
Paula Creamer came into the media center today (despite not having a top-10 this year) at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic for two reasons:
1) She’s Paula Creamer;
2) She won here in 2007.
Creamer was asked off the top to talk about her 2012 season, and she told the handful of reporters in the room that she’s not satisfied. Actually, she has been frustrated since 2010, when she failed to follow up that impressive U.S. Women’s Open victory at Oakmont with another title. It marked the end of “Why haven’t you won a major?” and the beginning of “Why haven’t you won since?”
“I think about it every day,” Creamer said. “I want to win too bad.”
Creamer flew home from Hawaii (T-18) and met with her coach, David Whelan, who has looked after her swing since she was 16. For the past few weeks, her team has talked about re-evaluating her goals. Creamer, 25, feels stagnant.
While most players on tour change their “surroundings” on a regular basis, Creamer has had the same team in place since she turned professional. Her caddie, coach, agent and confidants (her parents) remain her nucleus. Only her dog has changed.
“That’s not the issue,” said Creamer, who then quoted the old Indian-not-the-arrow adage. It’s neither the people nor the equipment, she said.
Creamer often goes home to Orlando and puts the Odyssey 2-ball back in her hands. She won LPGA Q-School back in 2004 and at least three LPGA titles with that model. She has had a number of different putters during the past couple of years, most recently putting a TaylorMade Raylor Ghost in the bag last March in Phoenix. She’s not interested in changing putters again, but she and Whelan are trying to go back to what worked as an amateur.
“I was getting so slow,” Creamer said.
As doubts crept into her mind, Creamer let her routine slip out of control. Information overload. She has tried to quicken the pace and square up her putting stroke. She ranks 52nd in putts per green in regulation and 46th in birdies. Creamer has made 64 birdies in 2012; top-ranked Yani Tseng has 130.
“She’s pushing me,” Creamer said of Tseng, who isn’t in the field this week at the RTJ Golf Trail’s Magnolia Grove Crossings Course. “I work harder now than I ever have, and I think it’s because I want where she’s at.”
Creamer’s strength always has been her iron play. But that swing didn’t translate to distance off the tee. Since last year, she has worked hard to try to hit the ball on the way up, and when pulled off properly, she says she gains 30 yards off the tee.
“When I don’t, I’m back farther,” she said.
Creamer’s golf idol is Juli Inkster. Creamer wants a long, successful career, with Inkster-like results. She has nine LPGA titles to date, and most would agree that’s not enough. So she made changes to her swing, trying to make it tighter and stronger by using more big muscles, putting less pressure on a thumb that required surgery two years ago.
Perhaps this is the week the questions change. Creamer has loved Robert Trent Jones tracks since her junior days. She feels comfortable here.
“Nobody ever wants to have change, that’s for sure,” Creamer said. “But when it’s good, it’s really good.”