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March 14, 2018

Paula Creamer

Phoenix, Arizona

THE MODERATOR: It's my pleasure to welcome Paula Creamer into the media center here at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Paula, welcome. Can you tell us just it's your first start in the last six months. What's this journey been like for you to get back on the golf course?

PAULA CREAMER: It's been a long journey. Six months in reality doesn't seem like that long of time, but this has been -- it's been a lot of just sitting down. I think this is the first time I've slept not in my bed in three or four months; I've been home so much.

I am just so excited to be back. This is the longest I've ever been away from tournament golf ever since I started golf. It's been kind of like the first day of school on Monday when I came in, you know, all the nerves and whatnot.

I'm looking forward to it. I've had a really good six months and I'm in a good place.

THE MODERATOR: What's the rehab been like from your wrist surgery, and how are you feeling now?

PAULA CREAMER: You know, rehab was brutal. That was probably one of the hardest things I have had to go through, just the pain and there was so much that we did in my surgery. My doctor, Dr. Hunt, was the same surgeon that did my thumb surgery seven years ago.

It was nice to be able to have that confidence and that trust in him. You know, seeing him again, we kind of had a joke. We always said seven years ago, and we've kept in touch, but we didn't want to.

Then I come back into the office and was like, Paula, we had the thing. We were never seeing each other again under these circumstances.

It's went well and it's been a learning experience of how much I can do and how much I have to be able to just say, No, no more.

THE MODERATOR: So how much can you do now? Are you healthy? Where are you at?

PAULA CREAMER: No, I am probably the healthiest I've been. It seems like I look back over the years and I always come back after my off-seasons and I always say I'm stronger and I feel better, but I really think this is the best I honestly have felt.

My golf swing feels good. The break was a nice thing. I think that it made me realize just how bad and how much fire and how much I want to achieve in this game. I look what the I've done and it's not good enough yet.

I've put a big push on that. I have a new team around me. I definitely feel like the six-month break was definitely beneficial for me.

THE MODERATOR: Can you tell us about your new coach and what you've been working on. I've heard some pretty drastic swing changes.

PAULA CREAMER: Yes. I work with Kevin Craggs now, and we -- we talked in December; he came out. I still was in a cast and I was hitting balls one handed just with my right arm, and did that for about a month literally with my pink cast on.

We just started to kind of get my body swinging in a different way than it has for as long as I've been playing golf. His presence and his focus and his determination and desire that he has for me is one of the greatest things I've ever been around. I'm beyond motivated, and when I'm just near him it makes me want to be better.

I've never had this much fun playing golf, and that's hard to say for doing it for so long. He just brings out a good side of me and a strong side.

THE MODERATOR: Specifically with your swing, what are some updates maybe or changes that fans will notice this week?

PAULA CREAMER: Well, my posture for sure has changed. They way I adjust the ball, my grip. My backswing, I'm much more on plane now. I have basically a pause at the top of my swing which I've never had. I've always thought hitting it hard was swinging it back fast and then just figuring out timing.

I realize now that if I get behind the ball and I can get all of my power from there and then swing as hard as I can, I literally swing as hard as I can now; whereas before I was definitely trying to just keep it in play. I've really realized how strong I am, and I can use that to benefit me.

So my backswing and the transition at the top you'll see is much different.

THE MODERATOR: And knowing it's been so long since you've tee'd it up in competition, what are your goals for this week?

PAULA CREAMER: I have my short-term, my mid-term, my long-term goals. This week it's more about stats for me. I really want to work on my greens in regulation, hitting fairways.

Expectations right now? I'm just excited to be out here. I've worked hard and my team has worked hard. We've done a really good job of getting me here; now it's just going out and playing.

I don't want to think about just results; I want to look at where can we get better, where can we improve.


Q. I wanted to talk to you about the adjustment of playing with a new ball since you played with Bridgestone for forever. And then when you started playing with the TaylorMade, like practicing with it and then what it's been like this week.
PAULA CREAMER: Yes, I switched about -- probably when I started back up again, which was in the end of January was when I actually started hitting balls, whether it was hundred yards or not.

Then I had about sixes or seven different balls we were trying, and I just fell in love with the TaylorMade. It was a pretty easy choice. Bridgestone has been great with me. They are an amazing company to be a part of and an ambassador, but I really like this ball. In the wind I've never played a ball that's quite like it.

It's soft. The spin is good. I definitely now can control what I want to do; whereas before sometimes I didn't have that control. It was just kind of like, Oh, well maybe this will do this and maybe it won't. That's pretty difficult to do.

I like the sound when I putt with it. Some people are about that; some people aren't. That sound when I putt was huge for me.

Q. Is there some trepidation about the competition part with the new ball or do you feel like you know exactly what it's going to do?
PAULA CREAMER: No, I know exactly what it's going to do. The only thing that might change is me in competition.

For the most part, I know when I hit it into the wind I'm only going to back it up a couple yards or it's going to stop; whereas before, sometimes it might bounce forward or spin back 15, 20 feet. This doesn't move much when it lands, which is something that I really wanted to try to find.

THE MODERATOR: Any other questions for Paula?

Q. You mind sharing your mid-term and long-term goals?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, my long-term is obviously to win, be back if the winner's circle. My midterm is -- you know, I'm taking them by three weeks, each goal I have.

So for me, I want to be in top 10s. I want to be able to be in contention in general.

But my main thing is keeping what I am doing with Kevin in tournaments. That's going to be the hardest thing, because I'm going to want to go out there, and the first thing you do is go back to your old tendencies and old habits.

Honestly, my main goal is not even about winning, it's not about results in that case. It's to continue what I'm doing. I know if I can do this, then all my other goals of winning majors and getting back -- you know, the Olympics has always been something I've wanted to do, and I've got a good push for that right now.

If I can stick to my golf swing, then hopefully those other ones get taken care of.

THE MODERATOR: What's so special about this tournament with some of our founders here this week? You've played this tournament for a number of years.

PAULA CREAMER: Well, it's just incredibly special to walk up on 18 and see those women there. Not only that, but all the young girls that are coming out. It's pretty neat to see. You've got the veterans and everybody there, and then you have the young LPGA US girl's golf coming out and watching, too.

They are just such good fans. It's a fun golf course. Lots of birdies can be made. Just the tradition behind it all and the meaning of why we're here, it's so special for women.

Q. Just talk about the first day of school kind of feeling and if you could expand on that.
PAULA CREAMER: Normally I arrive here Monday night, and I actually came in Sunday night because I knew it would be a little bit different. I've been out -- I had to remember where the locker room was and I didn't have my player badge, of course.

My packing when I went on Monday morning, I am looking at what I packed and I am like, Holy cow! I think this is the worst pack job I think I've ever done in my life.

I had to have adidas send me some more clothes, all of these things that I've taken for granted for so long. I'm like, I haven't been out of the game that long, but apparently I forgot that. It's just exciting to come. I played early, so I kind of got out here and just got into my own little mindset with my team, with Brooker and Kevin.

We just kind of got the little nerves out. He was like, Okay, look around, figure it out, and now let's move on. It's over now. Yeah, it was a cool feeling. I called my mom and dad. I was like, I'm going into school, going into work now, on my drive into the course.

Yeah, after all these years too, it's pretty neat when you get those emotions and those butterflies.

Q. Is Kevin going to be out at a couple tournaments with you?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah. He'll be with me these three, so that's good for me. We looked at the schedule, and like I said, we're only going by three weeks right now just also to see where I'm at body-wise out on Tour.

Yeah, he'll be out these next three.

Q. When you said when you look at your career it's not good enough yet, how difficult is it to make that self-evaluation and to actually say that? Was that a hard thing?
PAULA CREAMER: Oh, beyond. I actually sat my team down and I said, I want you to be real. This is what I want to do. This is where I want to go with my golf. This is where I want to go with my career. Can I do it?

I wanted to hear what they said. All of them said, You've had a great career; you've won numerous times; you have a U.S. Open trophy in your house. But without a doubt, they said they believe I can get to where I want in my goals.

When we looked at it, seeing where I've been in the last two, three years and where I could be or could have been, that's hard. It's unfortunate to look at things that you might have done differently.

But at the same time, those things happen for a reason. I believe that the last three years I've struggled are going to benefit me only more. What I want to achieve on the golf course is just as much as I want to achieve off the golf course, too.

Q. Then following that up, when you do look at -- when you try to evaluate, well why haven't I done all the things I wanted to do, where you see yourself coming up short? One thing that leaps to mind is you were always like Top 5 in greens in reg. I remember you going through a little swing change, and then you had a change with the irons that seemed to affect you. When you look at it overall, what do you see as the things that prevented you from doing all you wanted to do?
PAULA CREAMER: My misses were so bad. I think that was the big thing for me. I never played from the trees. I never had to hit big fades or big hooks. My game has always been fairways and greens, fairways and greens.

For so along we always talked about my putting. You don't make enough putts. You don't do this. But I constantly gave myself opportunities and chances.

When I started kind of tinkering a bit with trying to hit it farther, trying to hit it on the up, things that naturally my body didn't want to do, that's what I think kind of was my downfall.

I put so much pressure on my short game, and that's just not the way I play golf. I've always been very consistent. If you look at the best times in my career, it's a lot of greens.

So when we looked at this with Kevin, we were like, We got to get back to that mentality. Now that I'm strong, the length is going to come no matter what.

I think we focused on that too much in the past.

Q. Give us a little checklist of everything that's new then coming into this.
PAULA CREAMER: Well, me. I'm new I feel like. Left-hand is new.

No, I have new ball, TaylorMade ball, TP5.

Then I've got M3 irons; I have an M4 driver; I have an M4 3-wood; I have an M3 5-wood.

I have new wedges. I have a new Titleist wedge. My three TaylorMade wedges, 54, 50, and pitching wedge, those are all brand new.

Kevin is brand new.

I went back to my old strength coach as well, Chuck Wolf, so back working with him.

I think that's about it. My golf bag has changed a lot.

Q. How far does Chuck go back?
PAULA CREAMER: I worked with Chuck -- we split for about two and a half, three years. Probably from '12 to '14, 2012. So I have been with him collectively ten years. We broke up -- we say we broke up -- for like two years, but now we're back dating.

Q. You were just saying you haven't been this happy playing golf. What are the kind of things he says to you that get you so motivated?
PAULA CREAMER: We just have this amazing relationship. There is a lot of trust. He can be incredibly serious, and then at the end of this really strong statement he just says - he knows I love to eat - he'll say, Okay, where do you want to go eat? It's like, Whoa, where did that come from? Just his way, his presence that he has is very strong, very confident.

He constantly is telling me good things, positive things. Even if I miss a shot, He's like, That's all right. You can just go chip it in. Things just constantly in my brain not letting me think negatively.

His outlook on life, I love it. I feel like I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for Kevin. He just really helped me through some tough times in my life and has been incredibly supportive. He just wants to be to be the best.

I've never seen someone other than my dad or my family that says, You can do this. You can be the best. When he says it, you believe it. I like the way that he has really made me learn my golf swing and not teaching it. Making me learn how to do it and why my misses happen, instead just saying, Okay, fix this, do this, do this. He asks me why, why did you do that?

Q. Is being No. 1 in the world a goal?
PAULA CREAMER: That's my No. 1 goal, uh-huh.

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