Paula Creamer





Professional golfer

Born August 5, 1986, in Mountain View, CA; daughter of Paul (an airline pilot) and Karen Creamer.

Addresses: Contact —c/o Ladies Professional Golf Association, 100 International Golf Dr., Daytona Beach, FL 32124-1092.

Career

Began playing golf, c. 1996; began competing on the junior and amateur circuits, c. 1997; took first-place medal at the Ladies Professional Golf Association Qualifying School Tournament, 2004; turned professional, 2004; won first tournament as a professional, Sybase Classic, 2005; won Evian Masters tournament, France, 2005; won NEC Karuizawa tournament, Japan, 2005; won Masters GC tournament, Japan, 2005; played for the United States on the winning Solheim Cup team, 2005.

Awards: Player of the Year, American Junior Golf Association, 2003; Nancy Lopez Award, Ladies Professional Golf Association, 2005; Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, Ladies Professional Golf Association, 2005.

Sidelights

While still a teenager, Paula Creamer built on her strong amateur golf career and became a professional competing on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour. Creamer found immediate

success in the 2005 season, winning at least three tournaments and rookie of the year honors. The young golfer is known as the "Pink Panther" for her favorite color, which she often wears while playing. Creamer is one of many sound young female golfers who have emerged in the early 2000s, including potential rival Michelle Wie.

Creamer was born on August 5, 1986, in Mountain View, California, and raised in Pleasanton, California, a suburb of San Francisco. She was an only child and competitive from an early age. Her first interest was dance. Creamer had the goal of becoming a cheerleader. As a child, Creamer was on a team of acrobatic dancers that toured the United States.

By the time Creamer was ten years old, she was playing golf. Creamer's father, airline pilot Paul Creamer, played the game on a daily basis. The family home was next to Castlewood Country Club, where Creamer learned to play. It was immediately obvious that the young girl had talent. She soon left the dance team behind and began competing in tournaments. When Creamer was eleven years old, she was victorious in 18 successive junior tournaments.

To further Creamer's career, the family moved to Florida in 2000. The young golfer honed her golf game at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. She also became a student at the Pendleton School, a private high school which primarily educated elite athletes. While focusing on her education, Creamer continued to compete in amateur and junior tournaments as a young teenager. She also played in select elite golf events around the world such as in 2002, when she was the female U.S. representative at the R…A Junior Open in Royal Musselburgh, England. Creamer finished sixth in the combined finals totals.

Creamer's breakout year as an amateur was 2003. She reached the semi-finals of two major events: the U.S. Girls Amateur Championship and the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship. Creamer also qualified for the U.S. Women's Open, but missed the cut. However, she did later make the cut in two LPGA tour events. In 2003, she was named the player of the year by the American Junior Golf Association.

What made Creamer improve so much was the addition of a strong short game. From the beginning, she had a strong mental game and could work well under pressure. She also did exceptionally well at hitting the ball off the tee to the green. The great short game gave her the tool she needed to succeed as a professional. Such a short game would allow Creamer to earn the kind of low scores that win tournaments.

Creamer continued to compete on a high level as an amateur in 2004. She played in a number of amateur and junior events and finished thirteenth in the U.S. Women's Open. Creamer also competed in seven LPGA tour events, usually on sponsor's exemptions, and made the cut each time. She tied for second at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and was eighteenth at the Canadian Women's Open.

Creamer also represented the United States in several international team tournaments. She was a part of the Curtis Cup team, which beat Ireland and Great Britain. In addition, Creamer also played on Team USA at the World Amateur Team Championship, which finished second.

Her success in 2004 led to her winning the sixth annual Nancy Lopez Award. This honor is given to the best female amateur golfer. By the time Creamer won the award, she was already on the way to becoming a professional. She had entered the LPGA Tour Qualifying School (known as Q School) as an amateur. She could go through Q School as an amateur and retain that status if she did not do well. She planned on going to college if that happened.

Of making her decision, Creamer told Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle , "I've done pretty much all of the junior and amateur things you can do. And once you cross that big boundary, and know you can play out there, the sky's the limit.… It was time for me to say: Paula, you can play out there. You belong."

Creamer never entered college. After tying for first in the qualifier for the lesser Futures Tour (a developmental circuit run by the LPGA), Creamer dominated the LPGA Tour's Q School. She won the final qualifying tournament's first place medal by five shots. Creamer's victory marked the first time an amateur won the Q-School Tournament. Creamer turned professional soon after the victory, which came in December of 2004. Her first LPGA season began in February of 2005.

While Creamer was competing as a professional in the spring of 2005, she was completing her senior year at the Pendleton School. She missed her senior prom playing in a tournament. Creamer succeeded right away on the LPGA tour. In at least 21 starts, she missed only one cut and had ten top-ten finishes. Her first victory came in the Sybase Classic, only her ninth even as a professional. With this victory, she became the youngest to win a multi-round event in the history of the LPGA tour. Creamer was also the second-youngest player ever to win a LPGA event. Not since 1952 had an 18-year-old woman won.

In a short time, Creamer had her second victory as a professional. She won the Evian Masters in France by eight shots. This victory made her the youngest winner on the Ladies European Tour ever. Creamer also won two tournaments in Japan, the NEC Karuizawa tournament and the Masters GC, on the Japan LPGA tour. In addition, she finished third at the McDonald's LPGA Championship.

Over the course of her rookie season, Creamer won more than $1.2 million, making her the youngest player as well as the quickest person to make a million on the LPGA tour in its history. She also played her way onto the United States' Solheim Cup team, which won over Europe. Her play contributed to the victory. By August of 2005, Creamer's play had tied up the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year title. She had at least 1, 246 points, outpacing her nearest competitor by more than 600 points.

Despite her success on the women's tour, Creamer had no real desire to play in the men's Professional Golf Association (PGA) tour. Creamer's goal was to become the best player in the world in women's golf. She told Damon Hack of the New York Times , "I know what it takes to win events. I've won from behind, I've won from tied and I've won from in the lead. I've won all three ways you can win. Once you're there and you've done it, it becomes kind of routine. For me, I think the most important thing is to know how to win and how to compete under pressure."

Sources

Periodicals

Daily News (New York, NY), May 23, 2005, p. 78.

Denver Post , February 24, 2005, p. D1.

Los Angeles Times , September 12, 2005, p. D3.

New York Times , May 21, 2005, p. D2.

San Francisco Chronicle , September 4, 2004, p. D3; December 13, 2004, p. G1; June 23, 2005, p. A1.

Sports Illustrated , December 13, 2004, p. G19; May 30, 2005, p. 20.

St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, FL), September 18, 2005, p. 1C.

UPI NewsTrack, July 23, 2005.

USA Today , December 14, 2004, p. 3C.

Online

"It's Official, Creamer Wins Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, " LPGA.com, http:// www.lpga.com/conent_1.aspx?pid=4900…mid=2 (October 15, 2005).

"Paula Creamer, " LPGA.com, http://www.lpga. com/player_results.aspx…id=3438 (October 15, 2005).

"Paula Creamer Named Winner of Sixth Annual Nancy Lopez Award, " LPGA.com, http://www. lpga.com/content_1.aspx?pid=3884…mid=2 (October 15, 2005).

A. Petruso



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