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March 28, 2006

Paula Creamer


PAM WARNER: Paula, thanks for coming in and joining us today. This is your third year here at Kraft Nabisco. Last year I know you tied for 19th. You finished very well. Talk about being back here at Kraft.

PAULA CREAMER: I'm excited to be here. This golf course is in fantastic shape. If you miss a fairway, you just have to hit an 8 iron out of it. That's what a major should be like. The greens are running at a really good speed. It's Wednesday, and come Sunday it will be even more difficult. It's going to be a great test of golf.

PAM WARNER: We'll take questions for Paula.

Q. If you don't mind getting off to a peculiar start, the Blackberry you were playing with a moment ago, does that thing have air conditioning?

PAULA CREAMER: Aren't they beautiful.

Q. We'll get on to golf in a minute, but it was quite glittery.

PAULA CREAMER: It has a P on the back of it for Paula. It's just shiny, that's all.

Q. Two questions on golf. When you say hitting 8 iron out of the rough, have you tried to hit anything else?

PAULA CREAMER: I hit a full rescue today out of the rough and it was all right. It was one of those things where you didn't want to be too greedy, but also you wanted to get distance. I could have hit a 6 iron, but I wanted to see how much loft I could get out of it. A full rescue, it depends on the lie.

Q. Where did it go? Did it go sideways at all or forward?

PAULA CREAMER: It hooked a little bit, but that's naturally going to happen. It was fine. The lie was decent. If I could hit a full rescue out of the lie I had, that's pretty good.

Q. Secondly, just the state of your game coming into this. It looks like you have had a few chances this year and a few stumbling blocks. Where are you and what are your expectations and all that good stuff?

PAULA CREAMER: Well, my expectations are to win, of course. I've been patient this year so far. I've had my chances to win, like you said. I think the most that I've learned was Sunday at Mexico. Here I am in the chance to win and I had one birdie and one bogey. Most of the time I have a lot more birdies than that.

I'm just learning how to pace myself, not be quite as aggressive when I don't need to be type of thing. I'm just learning my limits out on the golf course. With this golf course, it's all about patience, now that the rough is thick. So you have to hit the fairway.

Q. How important is a first major title for you?

PAULA CREAMER: It's huge. This is hopefully my week, but as long as I just keep giving myself chances, and if I'm in the hunt come Sunday, then that's good. I just don't want to take myself out of the tournament.

Q. Is a major title one of the main goals this year?

PAULA CREAMER: Yes, majors this year are very big on my list.

Q. You talk about often comparing yourself with Annika and wanting to be at that level. Can you talk about where you are in term of the gap size? Is it shrinking? And how will you know when you've reached it?

PAULA CREAMER: It's hard to say. We played Mexico and she won that event. And we played Arizona and I beat her there. It's hard to say. I've only played twice this year. It's not it's the beginning of the year, it's not a race. It's too short to tell. She has more experience out on the golf course than myself, and we'll see come several years.

It might be the end of this year, it might be a couple more, you just never know. I can only take care of myself. I know that she's working just as hard as I am, so I have to work harder than her to get to where she's at, though.

Q. What did you think of Juli Inkster's win in Arizona? And how much, if at all, did you follow her? Is there any history or connection with you two?

PAULA CREAMER: Juli Inkster was my role model growing up. Definitely I have a lot of respect for her. She's done so much for women's golf. And to see her win I stayed on Sunday and I congratulated her after the tournament. I thought that was truly amazing. I mean, she hasn't won since 2003 or '2. Yeah, that was her last win. And to see it and to have been there, it was very exciting for myself. I can only imagine what she's going through.

Q. Can you imagine yourself winning in 25, 26 years?

PAULA CREAMER: I'm looking weeks, here, not 25 years. But I hope so. That's one of the reasons why I look up to Juli Inkster so much. She has a family. She loves what she does. And when you watch her, she just puts a smile on your face and you pull for her so badly. She puts it out there. That's what women's golf needs. And to watch her do it is very, very exciting and motivates me.

Q. How much has your game changed since last year? What parts have improved? Are you hitting it farther?

PAULA CREAMER: There are a couple of things I've changed. On No. 11, I can actually hit a cut off that tee now, instead of hitting it in the trees left, because it's a dogleg right par 5. And I think that will help me hitting shots to right sides of greens. I can hold up shots. I can hit fades. Just the selection of my shots has definitely gotten a lot bigger, which is what you need out on a golf course. I am longer.

I also have a little more maturity out on the golf course, a little more experience, competing on Sundays and competing throughout the week.

Q. How much longer are you than last year?

PAULA CREAMER: Probably off the tee, I'm probably 15 yards longer, maybe 5 with my irons.

Q. Maybe a short question. I don't remember Mexico. Did you guys you were tied with Annika going into the last day. Did you actually play together?


Q. Not the same cart I take it?

PAULA CREAMER: No, not the same cart.

Q. Was that different you've played with her before, obviously, but I would imagine this is the first time in the final group of a final round.


Q. Given her stature, did you learn anything that day, just in terms of the fact that she's No. 1, you want to be here, and here you guys are together and she's been in that spot a lot more times than you have?

PAULA CREAMER: The first nine holes, it was the first person to make a mistake. That was it. On No. 9, that was kind of the turning point. I hit every green, every fairway, I think the first eight holes. And No. 9, I missed the fairway. That fairway you can't miss. It's a huge fairway. So it's a shot on my half that I didn't hit very well. She hit a good shot. She laid up from like 165 yards, something like 180 yards she laid up, which I was in shock, because she didn't want to make a mistake. I was the first one to do it and I did it on that, but then I kind of came back and fought through it. But nobody put any pressure on her. Like I said, we were both waiting for someone to do something really wow or not. So I learned something through that.

Q. Were your emotions any different?


Q. Here is what I mean: You said you want to be where she is and here you are on a stage, final group, et cetera, et cetera, did you feel any different than if

PAULA CREAMER: No, that's what I want. I'm happy. That's what I want to be. If I'm coming Sunday and it's Annika and I, that's great. I'm excited. I'm not nervous or anything like that. That's what I would prefer.

Q. Not exactly nervous, but any type of emotion, more fired up than usual or intimidated?

PAULA CREAMER: Not intimidated, no. I have a lot of respect for Annika, but I'm not intimidated by her.

Q. Could you tell me, are you surprised at the speed in which you've climbed literally to the top of the women's game only turned professional a year ago?

PAULA CREAMER: It's happened very fast, yes, definitively, but in a way that's a good thing. That means I've done a lot, and just keep on going. I've been thrown into this whole process and now I'm just trying to get used to it. But in a way I'm not surprised it's happened so fast because my goals are so high.

I've set lofty expectations for myself. And like I said, it just goes on. I would rather have it go fast than slow. That means things aren't working very well.

Q. Do you feel like the world's No. 2 at this stage?

PAULA CREAMER: I would say so. I don't really compare myself to where I am, that type of thing. I just try to see where I can get better. Annika is the No. 1 player in the world. That's what I want to be. So I don't really say, okay, I'm 15, that means I have to move up 14 spots, it's just what do I need to do better to beat her.

Q. (No microphone.)

PAULA CREAMER: Yes, thank you. Next question.

Q. Your comments about Juli Inkster, you've spent time on both coasts. Do you consider yourself at this point a Californian or Floridian?

PAULA CREAMER: Californian, definitely.

Q. I have a question regarding last year's Solheim Cup with your excellent performance. Do you feel that really gave you a massive amount of confidence? Did it change how felt about yourself out on the LPGA with how you played?

PAULA CREAMER: It did, I think so. Because I said my comment before the whole thing happened and I knew I had to back it up. I could only take care of my own business, but it was a feeling of emotions. And going into that week I knew I had to live up to those standards. And knowing I can do it and play under that pressure, that's the most pressure I've under been under my entire life, if I can do that, I can pretty much do anything out on the golf course.

Q. I know that you don't mind being on the cover of Palm Springs Live. I'm wondering, because your commissioner is now involving LPGA with NASCAR, can it be a distraction or probably complement the game?

PAULA CREAMER: Doing photos?

Q. Promotions.

PAULA CREAMER: Right now golf is my main priority, but at the same time I have to market myself and do things like that, and I love to do that. I think that's very fun, photo shoots. It's just a different side of me and I'm able to do that, but I think it's definitely very necessary. If you don't perform then you're not going to have those options to do it or not.

Q. To follow up on the Juli Inkster comment, you said she was your role model growing up. Did you attend tournaments? Did you meet her? Obviously we know what you admire about her now, but growing up what was it about her that maybe caught your attention?

PAULA CREAMER: Like I said, she has it all. She has her family, she goes out and travels and she loves what she does. She's very successful at what she does. The first time I met her was at the Junior Solheim Cup a couple of years ago. Minnesota, I believe it was. But I carried her bag for a hole and it was like the highlight of my life, was carrying Juli Inkster's bag down the fairway.

Q. How old were you?

PAULA CREAMER: I think I was like 16 years old. But it was so exciting because I got to do it. When we played in the Solheim Cup, I asked her, I was like, "Do you remember me carrying your bag?" She goes, "What are you talking about? You never carried my bag." I was like, "Yeah, I did. I was the highlight of my life. I remember carrying your bag." And she was like, "Oh, yeah, you were like 30 yards behind me." And I'm like, "Yep, that was me, carrying your bag."

She's just so personable. When you go up to her, she makes you feel very, you know, welcoming. She gives me so much advice really. She's someone that I can call any time and she helps me out.

Q. Can you name two or three factors why your career has been so fast compared to other LPGA girls?

PAULA CREAMER: You know, I want to win. I want to be the best and I'm willing to do what it takes to get there. I think that's the most important thing, is that golf comes first. I don't like being in second place. I don't like that. I like being at the top and I want to know why. I'm always very curious I want to get better. I love to challenge myself and I love to compete. That's just who I am. I'm not willing to take that. I want to be up top.

Q. Have you ever been intimidated? Whether it was gymnastics as a kid or when you started playing, was there any time ever that you felt intimidated?

PAULA CREAMER: My dad intimidates me.

Q. On the golf course? There's a story we don't know there. But was there ever a lesson learned from that?

PAULA CREAMER: There's been times where I think that probably one of the first times I ever played with Annika was here, my first year here, I played with her and Helen Alfredsson Saturday morning. We were the first tee time off and I had 15 minutes to warm up.

Here I am played with Helen Alfredsson and Annika Sorenstam. It was very exciting. I definitely learned a lot from that because I was so focused on what they were doing. I was an amateur at the time and here I am just playing golf out at the Kraft Nabisco, so excited to be here, to do things like that.

I paid so much attention to them I forgot what I was doing out on the golf course. Ever since then, it doesn't matter who I play with, I'm in my own world now and I learned a lot from them.

Q. That was a couple of years ago?

PAULA CREAMER: Three years ago, my first year here.

Q. Watching Annika and Helen play (No microphone.)

PAULA CREAMER: Yes, there was. I said, how does she hit that shot, or you know, what was her thought going into that. And now it's just totally different. I don't really care how she hits the ball in the hole, as long as it happens, and I've learned that and I've been able to just take care of my own business.

Q. (No microphone.)

PAULA CREAMER: Because didn't they like have to like finish or something it was like they had to finish that morning and then the tee times came out and I was like 7:30 or something. And I got there at 7:15 or whatnot and I was right I think I was right obviously I was right in the middle of the pack, but they didn't tell I don't know, it was just craziness. And Helen goes, "I hit 5 balls and I'm on the tee." It was interesting, but oh well.

Q. You said a minute ago that your father intimidates you. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

PAULA CREAMER: No, I was just kidding. It was a joke. I have a fantastic relationship with my parents. They support me. They go to every event with me. And I'm very lucky that they know that I have high dreams and they only push me to help me. But I was just kidding. My dad is going to hear this and he's going to love it. I'm not intimidated by my dad. At times I am, but not all the time. I'm digging a hole and I can't get out of it (laughter).

PAM WARNER: Thank you, very much.

End of FastScripts.

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