LPGA MEDIA CONFERENCE
May 27, 2005
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Paula Creamer. Last Sunday Paula won the Sybase to become the youngest player to win a multiple-round event, having just graduated from high school at the Pendleton School in Bradenton, Florida. Paula is currently 4th on the ADT Money List and 18th in Solheim Cup points. Maybe you can start with an opening statement about how this week has been for you to get your first win, and then with graduation as well as all the media requests you've been filling this week.
PAULA CREAMER: It's been difficult, a whirlwind. It's been fun to come home after a win and spend it at my graduation and with all my friends and my family and my teachers. It's just been very chaotic but well worth it.
Q. How big was graduating class, and can you estimate the number of potential professional athletes in the Pendleton class of 2005?
PAULA CREAMER: I believe there was 83 seniors, and there's just so many other sports in my senior class. I think there was probably about 15, 20 golfers, and then the rest were soccer, baseball, basketball and tennis. I don't really know a lot of the athletes, but I know that there will probably be a handful.
Q. Congratulations for everything that's going on.
PAULA CREAMER: Thanks.
Q. First question, obviously being a Canadian guy, I'm just wondering if there are any plans for you to come back to the Canadian Women's Open this year?
PAULA CREAMER: I'm not quite sure right now because I did get into Evian with this win, which was very exciting, but I'm not totally sure. I don't think I will be able to make it to that event, but it's not a for-sure thing.
Q. You had mentioned about how your goal is to get onto the Solheim Cup this year, a pretty tall order. I'm just wondering if you could talk about that and what some of your other priorities are before the end of the year.
PAULA CREAMER: Definitely my main goal is Solheim Cup. With the win it helps me with my confidence knowing that I can win on Tour and try to achieve my goals, under Nancy Lopez. But it's not done yet. I have several months before the team is finalized, but if I keep playing good and get some more points, I hope I can get up in the captain's pick, if not make it in on my own. Other goals are just to win out here, and I feel that if I make Solheim Cup team, everything else just kind of falls into place with the Solheim and winning out here, and I'm going to try to win a major, as well.
Q. I wanted to find out what kind of reception you received at home after winning last week, and if you had any moments this week to kind of just take a break and rest.
PAULA CREAMER: Well, not really, and I haven't had a break yet. It's been -- everybody here has been just so awesome with the whole thing and they've been very supportive of myself, and I've been going through it here and they've been very supportive, and I'm very lucky that everybody around is an athlete and they know what it takes to win, and they support it.
Q. With the people around you, how have you kind of tried to ensure that some of the pressure, now that you've won a tournament, not letting it get to you as you move forward now?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, there's always pressure. I always put the most pressure on myself, but now it's kind of -- it's really releasing a lot of different kinds of emotions knowing that I feel very confident on the golf course, and I feel that I can win. I have before, but now I know I can because I've done it. It's just now going into every tournament, I feel very confident and I will always remember Sybase, knowing that I can perform under pressure.
Q. A lot of players have tried to make the jump from high school directly into the pro ranks, and most of them had to spend a few years before they posted their first win. What is it do you think it is about you and your game that's enabled you to be so successful so quickly on Tour, and in what ways does your game still show that you're a rookie?
PAULA CREAMER: The second question, I know that my game shows that I haven't -- I don't have much experience on these golf courses. I've only played a handful of them from playing in the sponsor's exemptions. I know about five or six of those. So that is definitely a sign of being a rookie because everybody else gets to play the courses so many times. What was the first part of the question?
Q. What has enabled you to be successful so quickly making the jump from high school to the professional ranks where maybe other players haven't been able to do it?
PAULA CREAMER: With me right now I'm very driven and I set high goals that I want to achieve, and I'm going to do -- I want to do whatever it takes to get there, and I've been working really hard at it. My coach David Whelan and I and my whole team is very supportive of me, and I have such good people around me that I feel very confident with what everybody is doing.
Q. One of the perks of your win is you qualify for the LPGA Tournament of Champions played in Mobile at Magnolia Grove where you've had a lot of success at the Labor Day AJGA tournament. I'm wondering if you've thought about that, going back to that course? Any memories you have of Mobile from your junior days?
PAULA CREAMER: Actually my mom and dad and I were just talking about that, how I got into that event and I've won before there, and I'm feeling really good about that tournament. I hope it works into my schedule right now. If all goes well, then I will definitely be there and try to play that tournament. That was awesome. It was the last tournament of the year and I have a lot of good memories.
Q. I guess you're getting good vibes now from the New York/New Jersey area, so could you talk about playing in the HSBC Match Play that's going to be later this summer and what's it like to play in a match play format, and if that suits your game and if you're looking forward to it?
PAULA CREAMER: I'm really looking forward to it. It's a new event, new golf course, and with match play it's a totally different event than anything that I have been in. I love match play and have had a lot of success with that. Going back up to the northeast is always a great thing for me. I love playing those kind of golf courses, the traditional kind of golf courses, and I'm really looking forward to it. And match play sets up well for me because I am a pretty aggressive golfer on the golf course, and my game plan has always been to take -- if you have a shot, take it, and match play, you're just playing your partner, you're not playing the golf course.
Q. In what way is Annika Sorenstam an influence or a standard or a model? How do you view her presence now?
PAULA CREAMER: Annika, she has raised the bar in women's golf and is making me practice hard to where I want to get to, and if I want to be the No. 1 player in the world it means I have to go out and practice here and outwork her. She's done that for women's golf and has made it very competitive.
Q. A follow-up, any odd or unusual or funny requests or reaction that stands out after your win?
PAULA CREAMER: No. I mean, it's been so much fun. Everybody, like I said, has been so supportive of the win and very gracious. I can't think of any funny things yet. There's been so crazy things, crazy things that I sign, but other than that, it's just everybody has been very, very supportive.
Q. One crazy thing you signed?
PAULA CREAMER: I've been signing like the head of a golf club. I signed a shaft, and you know the wrist bands that go around your arms for the "Live Strong," the cancer, things like that, I've been signing those.
Q. I understand that your dad tried to get you to golf when were younger and you kind of said you didn't want any part of it and you were an acrobatic dancer. Can you just tell me what that story is about and what was harder to learn, the dancing or the golf.
PAULA CREAMER: Yes, I used to be an acrobatic dancer and we lived on the golf course. I lived on the 1st hole, so I was always around golf but was never interested. Then one day my other dancing friends and I, we went and we did golf lessons as a group, so there was about five of us. That made it so much fun because I was with them and it was maybe a half hour, 45 minutes together. Then when I was in 6th grade I had to decide whether to be a chief leader or on the golf team, and I chose golf team, and at that age I just dropped all the sports and I stayed with golf and I'm here today. It's been one of the best things that's ever happened to me.
Q. In that same vein, talk about what your parents -- I know your dad switches bases out from the Bay Area to Miami and just your parents moving out to Florida to kind of help you pursue your dream a little bit.
PAULA CREAMER: Yes, they've been awesome. They've definitely been the best parents that a kid could ask for. They've actually moved from all their friends for me, and it is just wonderful, and I'm glad that we have done it. It was a huge decision for the family, and I know I was definitely pushing for it. We couldn't have done it if it wasn't for my dad's job, to be able to transfer bases, which helped out a lot.
Q. I'm curious what your thought is about the profile of the LPGA. Over the years there's been a lot of talk of trying to raise the profile of the sport, getting more attention, and you've obviously gotten a lot of attention this week. I'm wondering what you think about that, what you think needs to be done for the LPGA to get more attention, and what are you willing to do to kind of help raise that profile?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I'm just trying to play golf and represent my country well. The LPGA is a fantastic organization and they have done so much and they have bloomed over the last several years, and I'm so excited that I'm coming in at this time because there's so many more options and things like that that they're allowing us, and I'm very lucky that this is the time that I'm coming in at.
Q. For those of us who don't know, could you explain the pink thing? Where did that come from and what's the significance of it?
PAULA CREAMER: Pink is my favorite color, and I always have something pink on, no matter what it is, if I'm going to dinner or if I'm going to a movie. It's just I'm always wearing pink. I was given the nickname "Pink Panther" by Casey Wittenberg, a former golf academy student here, and it kind of stuck, and now everything I have is pink.
Q. Another follow-up on the Annika question: Is there one thing in watching Annika that -- maybe that she does that you've changed to pattern yourself after her or something that she's done to influence the way you play? Do you watch her as much as you can?
PAULA CREAMER: Yes, I do. You always need to learn from the No. 1 player in the world. I know I'm not exactly like her; we're two totally different people. But Annika -- the thing that impresses me about Annika is when she gets to the golf course it's all business. There's no chitchat going on. Every once in a while you'll see it, but she gets there, she does her work and then she leaves. That's what I'm trying to do and not having to stay at the golf course as long.
Q. Everyone wants to kind of compare you and Michelle Wie. You're taking totally different routes. Some people think that she should play more junior golf. You learned to win that way. What do you think of the two different ways that you're doing it or that you did it?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I only know the way that I'm doing, and for me I think that's the most beneficial. I like to know that I'm able to perform under pressure. I know that I've done it before, and I've won from every angle, and I feel that that's very comfortable when you get into a pressure situation coming down Sunday. For me it works good. Like I said, I've only done it this way.
Q. Just wanted to get your thoughts on the Shoprite. You finished tied for 2nd as an amateur at last year's tournament, just kind of how you handicapped the field and what it will be like going up against some of the players who weren't there last week, like Annika.
PAULA CREAMER: I couldn't ask for a better tournament after a win. I feel very confident at Shoprite and feel very comfortable there and really like the golf course. The field is very strong, which is a good thing to come off of a win, but like I said, I feel very confident right now and I feel like I can be in the hunt there.
Q. Individual sports, there aren't a lot of rules for athletes to turn professional. Michael Phelps the swimmer was a professional at 16, tennis, golfers. Do you study the situation with the NBA maybe trying to raise the limit on the age for players and install an age minimum? Do you pay any attention to that stuff and do you have any thoughts on it?
PAULA CREAMER: I know a little bit about it. I don't know every detail. It's hard to talk about another sport since I'm not involved with it, and I know with golf I think that we have the age requirement of 18. I think that it all depends on the person and what they want. I know people think that I'm crazy that I turned professional at 18 and I'm not going to college, but for me it works out, and this is what I want to do. I mean, I still will get my degree from college, but at the same time this is -- I would rather be the No. 1 player on the LPGA than the No. 1 collegiate player.
Q. Will you study part-time, on-line? How will you do that?
PAULA CREAMER: I'll do it on-line. I'm going to try and start in the fall in the off-season so I can get some classes done before the season starts.
Q. Do you have a place that -- are you already planning to study?
PAULA CREAMER: We're talking to a couple of schools: University of Miami and then University of Phoenix, some good on-line schools.
Q. You alluded to this earlier in the conversation, about how proud you are to represent your country. A few years ago there was a lot of talk, of course, about the dominance of international players on the LPGA Tour. Is that a source of pride for you? I mean, if you look at some of the people coming up, not only yourself but Michelle Wie and some other players, is that a source of pride for you to kind of invigorate American golf on the LPGA Tour?
PAULA CREAMER: Of course. I love representing my country and things like that. My fondest memories are doing that, wearing red, white and blue. I think it's so exciting that there are -- the Solheim Cup and the Curtis Cup and world amateur teams like that, and to be able to do that is such an honor.
Q. Not many high school seniors cash a check like you did last week. Since you turned professional, how have you indulged yourself in buying something sort of frivolous that you wouldn't have done, and given the fact that you're not difficult to shop for, what did your parents give you for graduation?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, my mom and dad bought me a purse for graduation, which was very nice and very surprising, and then when I went shopping in New York, it was the best but the worst possible place to win a tournament was in New York City. So I had some shopping sprees there. I've been buying the normal clothes and shoes and obviously pink things and bags and things like that. But no big thing, no car or anything like that.
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