KOHLER, Wis. – For Paula Creamer, Friday evening was a watch-the-sun-go-down-on-the-practice-green sort of day. After consecutive rounds of 73 at Blackwolf Run, both of which featured a putt total that was entirely too high (34 and 33, respectively), Creamer said she was as frustrated as she’s been in a long time.
That this week is the U.S. Women’s Open – and the two-year anniversary of her last win – didn’t help her state of mind.
“I had to go grind it out on the putting green,” she said. “Definitely it helped today. I made some more putts and that was good.”
Creamer only used the flat stick 26 times in a third-round 71, which included a missed 5-footer for par at the 18th hole. Still, the round was the least predictable of the week. She double-bogeyed the par-4 third and eagled the par-4 fifth. There were three birdies and one other bogey. It still left her under par, a respectable score on the windiest day yet in Kohler. She’s 1 over for the tournament.
“It’s playing tough, but you can make your birdies,” Creamer said. “There’s some holes where you can put a close wedge. It’s just different wind we have had, and the pin placements, the USGA did a very good job tucking them.”
It’s been suggested – loudly and often, in fact – that pin placements were a result of the 27 sub-par rounds turned in on Friday, Michelle Wie’s 66, among them. This is the U.S. Open, after all.
Creamer, fresh out of the trenches, agreed “100 percent.”
The leaders hadn’t yet made the turn when Creamer came off No. 18, but by the time she had signed her scorecard, she trailed by only five shots. She started the day seven back. If she remains within four of five shots of the leader, Creamer said after her round, she still could snag the trophy.
Creamer’s third round left her in a position and mindset that doesn’t require another moonlight putting session, but the biggest reason she won’t repeat that exercise is because of the way tee times worked out.
“I need to grind it out. You know, last night obviously the rounds took forever, so it was dark when we finished anyways,” she said. “But I will. I’ll continue to do my practice afterwards.”
This is the Open, after all.