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Paula Creamer Returns Home for Tournament


Editor's Note: This week Paula Creamer returns to the area in California where she grew up. The LPGA Tour's budding star is in Danville for the Longs Drugs Challenge. Since her rookie season in 2005, Creamer's career has skyrocketed. She has a victory in 2007, and her season's earnings have risen to over $1 million. The 21-year-old was also the star on the victorious American team at the recent Solheim Cup matches in Sweden. On Tuesday afternoon, Creamer sat down with the media and discussed her ascending career.

MODERATOR: Paula, thanks for coming in and joining us today. You're kind of the hometown girl this week. What does it feel like to come here, play in front of all your fans that watched you over the years?

PAULA CREAMER: It's so nice to be able to come here and play in front of my friends and my family, you know, come out and play this golf course. It's kind of a crazy week with everything going on. But I love to be back, back in my hometown.

MODERATOR: Also this is your first event since being a dominant player on the winning U.S. Solheim Cup team. Can you talk about playing on the Solheim Cup team, your break, then being home.

PAULA CREAMER: Solheim Cup by far is one of my favorite tournaments I play. I always say it's better than winning. Any time you get the chance to represent your country, there's no better feeling than that. You know, it was a good week. Fortunately we won, which is even nicer. But I had a good two weeks off. I don't think I've ever been so tired after a golf tournament. I mean, mentally I was just exhausted. It was tough playing in the weather conditions over there, you know, five matches. I played 17, 18 holes in every match. You know, it was a long week. But I had a really good two weeks off.

MODERATOR: We'll start with questions.

Q. Obviously you played a ton of golf in this area. I think a great question for you is, how does this golf course stack up to the rest of the golf courses you see on the tour you play on the rest of the year?

PAULA CREAMER: Well, this one is a little interesting golf course. You know, lots of placements off tees that you have to hit. There's a lot of risk/reward out here. I think that's the biggest thing. The greens, they're pretty quick, but they're very bumpy. There's a couple greens that are dead out on the course. But overall it's in pretty good shape, you know, that way of other golf courses, that matchup. But it's just it's very hilly, lots of different types of lies, different types of shots. It's not like a normal course that we normally would play.

Q. Do you think the greens are going to dry out pretty good in the later afternoon hours during the competitive rounds?

PAULA CREAMER: Definitely. They're definitely going to dry out. It's going to get firmer. I mean, I played this morning and there wasn't much run on the ball. So tomorrow hopefully I'll get to play in the afternoon to see what it's going to be like. But the greens are just not quite a hundred percent there. Just a little bumpy. Hopefully come Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, they'll be okay.

Q. You had a little bit of a struggle in the middle of the year, then really played well in the Solheim. What was it? Did you just get going again? Obviously nobody plays great golf all the time, but what was your year like?

PAULA CREAMER: For the whole year?

Q. Yes. Starting, then, boom, you have the great ending in the Solheim Cup.

PAULA CREAMER: I don't think my year's been that bad. I'm third on the Money List and I won the first tournament. I don't think it's been that too terrible of a year. I've taken a lot of top 10s, a lot of top fives, just really consistent. Solheim Cup, whenever you get the chance to represent your country, it just feels like everything just elevates itself. I'm there to play. I'm there to win. I want to do it with pride. I think that's the biggest thing, is wearing those colors for that whole week, it just makes me want to play good golf and go out and have a lot of fun. It's a different feeling than normal. I feel like my game is so much better in those weeks than others, and I'm trying to take that momentum into the last couple of weeks.

Q. Were you the person that procured the face decals? Where were they? Where did you get those?

PAULA CREAMER: They're little tattoos. I don't know, my rookie year, first year in Solheim two years ago, I was decked out in them. I had them on my arms, my legs, my face. But this year we had so many clothes on, we couldn't. I had one actually on my hands but they kind of rubbed off as the rain came and whatnot. They were just those little temporary tattoos. Morgan got them for us all. We had some left over from the year before, too. Yeah, there was a lot. I think I had a hundred of them every day, it's ridiculous (laughter).

Q. You talked about all the top 10s. Really been quite a few this year. Obviously you weren't happy with last year. Has this been sort of more of what you envisioned? Has this been satisfying?

PAULA CREAMER: I won a couple months ago. No, you know, overall I've played good golf. I had a good stretch. I played seven tournaments in a row in one stretch. I did pretty good there. I've gone through a lot of swing changes, just growing up, experiencing different kinds of things out on the golf course. You're learning about golf, but I'm also learning other lessons off the golf course, as well, which is trying to manage everything. I think I've handled myself well on the golf course. I wish I would have played better more often to get more wins. That's always a goal of mine, is to win as many tournaments as I can. But I'd definitely like to finish up the year with a couple more wins.

Q. What would you say you've done better this year than last year that's enabled you to at least challenge for a lot of wins?

PAULA CREAMER: You know, last year, I mean, I didn't win last year. I played okay. It was hard coming off the year that I had. I never had an off-season, that's for sure. I was in Singapore, then I went to South Africa. I did all these things. It was kind of like two years in a row. Then this past off-season I took about I think about three and a half weeks off, you know, no golf. I just felt really rested and ready come to out strong. That's all learning experiences. That's all figuring out what works best for you.

Q. You mentioned obviously the wins this year and the money being high. As you look ahead to next year, how much does winning a major drive you? How much will that drive you going into next year?

PAULA CREAMER: Oh, definitely. Majors are one of the reasons why a lot of people play golf, are for those moments, winning a U.S. Open or British Open or whatnot. Right now I'll take as many wins as I can, if they're majors or not, you know, that type of feeling. I feel if I go into every tournament thinking as the same, when the majors come around, I won't put as much pressure on them. I'll just go out and play my own game. I think that's the most important thing, not putting as much hype on those tournaments, you know, mentally in my own mind.

Q. Obviously you read about St. Andrews growing up, knew about it. Getting to play it, what was it like?

PAULA CREAMER: It was so much fun. I mean, I went over in I think it was May. I went over before to try to get out the butterflies of being at the home of golf, being able to go in August and just go out and focus on golf, not the fact you're playing St. Andrews. But it was great. I wanted to play it in all kinds of conditions, and we did. Got to play in the rain. Got to play it in probably the strongest wind I've ever played in, on a golf course where you have no idea. You can't see anything anyways, then when you're aiming 40 yards left or right, it even harder (laughter). But it was fun. I mean, I turned 21 on that weekend as well, so it was a very memorable tournament for me.

Q. Some of us have played it, and it's like the caddie tells you something, and you don't believe it. Did you have to say in your mind, Okay, I'll do that, when it looks like I should hit over here?

PAULA CREAMER: Oh, of course. I mean, I kind of looked at him every once in a while like, Are you crazy? I'm not going over there. That kind of thing. But my caddie, he worked so hard that week. There's so many bunkers that people just don't realize. There's so many different things that's going on. When you go out for the 9, you come back. I mean, it's crazy. It's one of the golf courses, though, that if it's blowing and it's hard, it's cold, you don't want to be out there. It gets a little difficult.

Q. You mentioned how great it is to come back home and see friends and family. Does it present also some difficulties in the sense of demands on your time and distractions?

PAULA CREAMER: Well, I do a lot more at this tournament than I do. But at the same time, you know, this is my hometown. I like to see all my friends. I like to see all my family. I do some outings. I'll go do a signing today, on the weekend type of thing. But these are the people that supported me my whole junior golf career and my whole amateur career and now. So I feel like I can give back to them as much as they've given to me.

Q. When did you actually go down to Florida? How old were you?

PAULA CREAMER: 14.

Q. How often did you come back?

PAULA CREAMER: In the beginning years, I'd say four, five, six times a year. And then it got less and less, more around the holiday times when I got older.

Q. You talked about lessons off the course. Were you referring to demands on your time? Sponsor stuff? Natalie is coming in here next and she's involved and busy off the course. Do you ever talk at all to her or other players about balancing the business side of it and the golf side of it?

PAULA CREAMER: That's the hardest part, you know, is balancing your free time, your sponsor time, all that kind of stuff. But to me, the sponsors come ahead of my free time because they're the people that believe in me out on the golf course as well. I feel that I serve them as much time as they do for me, that type of thing. I'm 21 years old now. I'm growing up. I'm learning things and I'm experiencing different things. This is my third year already. I mean, I can't believe it. It's going to be four years next year. That's crazy. And it's dealing with certain things. I think that growing up out here I had to mature a lot faster than a normal 21-year-old would, just figuring out other things in life.

Q. Do you ever worry about the sponsor time affecting the golf time?

PAULA CREAMER: Oh, no. My sponsors are great with me. I just did an outing on Monday at Pebble Beach. I had to hit shots on hole No. 7, the little par 3. That's awesome. That's a great outing for RVS. I did one at Kraft last Monday. I got to go to the Bears game. It's things like that. That's fun. At the same time I'm giving back to the people that believe in me.

Q. How many times did you hit that shot?

PAULA CREAMER: I think like six, seven times. There's about seven groups out there. It was fun. I went to like three different clubs the whole day. It was downwind, though, then it was cross, then it was a little into. But it was fun. It was such a good day, I guess you could say.

Q. Close to the pin?

PAULA CREAMER: I almost holed it.

Q. What did you hit?

PAULA CREAMER: A little pitching wedge.

Q. Are there things during the week that you're looking forward to doing other than things surrounding golf? If so, what might those things be?

PAULA CREAMER: Well, besides like the golf stuff? I know I'm doing things the First Tee. Let's see here. Just the restaurants.

Q. Shopping?

PAULA CREAMER: Shopping? I don't know. I'm trying to stay away from the shopping a little bit (laughter). That's my off-week stuff now. I've kind of placed it a little strategically. When I'm at home, I can do the shopping. I have no room in my suitcases, so I can't do it. No, but I'm going to see one of my best friends. I'll go out to dinner with her one night. I'm really looking forward to that. There's this Chinese place that I love, so I have to go there, that kind of thing. And Mexican Linda, you all know Mexican Linda down by the fairgrounds? There's a couple of little places I have to go.

Q. What is the Chinese?

PAULA CREAMER: In that same center, Chinese Garden. I don't know (laughter). It's like string beans and something. It's like my favorite Chinese food ever, so I have to go there (laughter). But those are the main things on the list I get to do besides seeing my family (laughter).

Q. (Indiscernible) were you comfortable in that role at Solheim Cup?

PAULA CREAMER: It's funny, I'll listen to Juli talk, saying things -- I'm out there saying, It's okay, Jules, calm down. You'll be all right, Jules, that kind of stuff. I look at her, Do I really do that? I'm sorry. That kind of thing. But I don't know. In those moments, you just -- I guess it's kind of weird that I've played 10 matches in two years. The day I have to sit out, I'm not going to know what to do with myself. Inside it feels really good. It's a very nice honor to have, you know, that feeling that people kind of look up to me out there as a role model for that. But those weeks, those are the best weeks I've ever had, just being with 12 girls that are the best players in the world and having a captain, representing your country, there's nothing more you can ask for.

Q. (No microphone.)

PAULA CREAMER: It was so cold. It was unbelievable. You know those little ThermaCare packs? We joked at the end of the tournament they were the MVP. We'd wave them up in the air going, MVP! Keeping us warm out there (laughter). It was fun. It was a good week. It really was.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.