WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Paula Creamer has only two trophies in her Orlando, Fla., home: a U.S. Women’s Open replica and a Golf Channel award for best dressed. The rest are displayed in her parents’ house, down the street in Isleworth.
Her next trophy – whenever that might come – will make it a trio for Creamer in her home office. With a victory drought of two years and counting, her 10th LPGA victory might feel as special as the first. She’ll keep that one close.
“I put the most pressure on myself, for sure,” Creamer said early in the week. “Two years; I think about it every day.”
Creamer played near-flawless golf on a steamy Saturday in front of a generous crowd at the Kingsmill Championship. Her bogey-free 6-under 65 put her two strokes ahead of Jiyai Shin and in the lead heading into Sunday for the first time since Creamer’s 2010 victory at Oakmont.
To win on Sunday, Dewi Claire Schreefel – who is tied for third – said it’s going to take a fast start. Soft conditions have made this tournament a game of darts, and Creamer’s evolving swing has been up for the challenge this week. She hit every green in Round 1 and 15 in the next two. On Saturday, she needed only 27 putts.
“I think that these greens I can read very well,” she said.
Toward the end of last season, Creamer and her longtime coach, David Whelan, began talking about implementing changes to make her swing more efficient. They began the process last January of creating more width in her backswing, with her arms more out in front. Creamer had a tendency to take the club back too deep and get stuck. Her above-average hand-eye coordination allowed her to get the club back to square. Paul Creamer, Paula’s dad, thinks that swing might have led to the thumb injury that set her back.
The new swing requires less effort and has fewer leaks, allowing her eventually to play a game more suited to her 5-foot-9-inch frame (i.e., longer). Paul Creamer said his daughter gets frustrated in the moment but sees the big picture. At age 26, Creamer is still in the early stages of her career. The 52-year-old Juli Inkster, after all, remains her idol.
“Hopefully next season we won’t be talking about it, because it’s just her swing,” Paul Creamer said.
Indeed, this conversation has run its course. It’s time for the “When will Paula Creamer win again?” question to end.
Tomorrow seems like a good time.