Paula Creamer had a different outlook in golf a year ago when she came to ShopRite LPGA Classic wondering how her left thumb, which had been surgically repaired, would hold up playing golf for three days.
Today, she only needs to walk into her Orlando kitchen and gaze at the U.S. Women’s Open trophy centrepiece on the table, and she gets more confident knowing that if she has won the major shortly after her LPGA Tour return, then she can do anything.
Creamer however remains unsatisfied with the No. 11 ranking in women’s golf because she is eyeing the No. 1 rank which is currently held by Yani Tseng. The other rankings, No.2 held by Suzann Pettersen, No. 3 held by Jiyai Shin and No. 4 held by Cristie Kerr also appeals to her.
“I want to be a part of it,” Creamer said Thursday on the eve of this year’s $1.5 million ShopRite event at the Seaview Resort’s Bay Course. “It’s tough right now, and I’m not quite in that mix yet. I don’t know what I am in the rankings, but I want to be higher without a doubt. I want to be No. 1 American, and I want to be the No. 1 player in the world, but that’s not going to change overnight. I know that it’s going to take some time.”
The lack of tournaments is one of the challenges being faced by Creamer and the other LPGA Tour players. The ShopRite is in fact New Jersey’s second consecutive and the eight official tour event for them.
While players enjoyed last May’s Sybase Match Play Championship, it was followed by a week off. Creamer finished tying for fifth at the Championship where she played well but lost to Kerr in the quarterfinals.
“I’m just trying to get it back, trying to get in contention on Sundays,” said Creamer, who will turn 25 in August. “I miss it. I miss being in the winner’s circle.”
While Creamers has won two events in the LPGA Tour of Japan and won nine events on the LPGA Tour, her winnings are far between. Her first major win at Oakmont during the U.S. Women’s Open last year was her next victory after winning in 2008.
“I feel like I matured so much as a golfer and a person that week,” Creamer said. “It was the hardest golf course I ever played and the fact that I won by four there shows that I can play, I can be out there, I can be the best player, and it motivates me more and more.”
Creamer is excited to come back this year to ShopRite, after a three-month layoff, even with the slight lengthening of the seaside course which has made it a little tougher.
“This golf course needs to play harder,” Creamer said. “But it shows that not necessarily adding tons of length everywhere makes the golf course harder. Bringing the fairways in and changing the style of it is actually going to be a good thing. Length isn’t everything.”
“I love this golf course because I enjoyed it so much every time that I’m playing over here,” said Miyazato, ranked No. 7. “It’s because it doesn’t just favor the long hitters. But this is a course that favours the long hitters and short hitters, and course management comes into play a lot.”