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June 29, 2004

Paula Creamer


RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, Paula Creamer is 17 years old. She is an amateur. She's had a whirlwind couple of weeks here, she was on the Women's USA Curtis Cup and contributed 2 points to the match. She finished second at the ShopRite and she was 13th last week in the LPGA tournament that she played in. Paula, this must be an exiting time in your golf life.

PAULA CREAMER: It's been great. It's fun playing in these tournaments, but it's more fun playing good golf. It's been great. It has been a different type of mindset.

RHONDA GLENN: In what way?

PAULA CREAMER: You know, I just -- I think I believe in myself a little bit more now. A couple of tournaments before it was more of me just being there, soaking it all in, and now I am soaked in, and I'm ready to play some golf.

RHONDA GLENN: You've played the golf course.


RHONDA GLENN: What do you think of this layout?

PAULA CREAMER: It's a great golf course, it really is. My caddy and I, we were looking at some of these holes, and we were thinking this is a good golf hole, it's a great test of golf, it really is.

Q. We talked about your mindset, and you mentioned that, is there anything physical, working with your swing coach that's changed your game from Pumpkin Ridge to now?

PAULA CREAMER: I'm definitely stronger. The rough, which used to be a problem, it still always will be, it's thick stuff, but it's a lot easier to get out of. I know I can hit more of a lower lofted club out of it. So I've definitely gotten stronger.

Q. Is that because you're lifting?

PAULA CREAMER: Yes. I'm getting older, my body is maturing. So definitely a lot stronger.

Q. You've obviously played in a lot of tournaments, and this being a U.S. Open. Is it different from what you do for other tournaments, how do you really prepare?

PAULA CREAMER: Definitely, a Major championship tournament is always all about pars. Par out here is 71, that's a good score on this golf course. There's a lot of holes, if it's into the wind, you can't reach them. It's going to be about your short game, it's about your putting. Coming into them you have to think par is a good score, and that's hard to think. When you play golf courses that you can make a lot of birdies. It's a different mindset, a different ability of hitting golf shots. You have to have a full repertoire of golf shots.

Q. A couple of questions, Paula. What did you take out of the Curtis Cup, what did that do for you?

PAULA CREAMER: That was so much fun. It's the highlight of my golf career so far. It was a great team, a great captain, Martha was phenomenal. Standing up on the first tee, and standing at those opening ceremonies representing your country is hard to explain.

Q. Given the pressure, over the two days, though, is there any correlation to coming off of that and playing well in your two LPGA events that followed?

PAULA CREAMER: I would think so. My confidence coming out of Curtis Cup, that golf course was very tricky and you had to think a lot coming out of there, and going to that mindset to playing stroke-play helped me tremendously.

Q. I didn't recognize any of the girls on the other team. But I was under the impression you were given their best player in singles?


Q. What was that boost confidence-wise that Martha would send you out like that?

PAULA CREAMER: Going into it, I knew I was going to have to play her, and from the lineup the first day I was No. 1, and we knew she was No. 1, too, to set that trend of winning matches. I knew I was going to have to play tough. She's a great player, had a great short game, I knew it was going to end up me winning, and I played great golf. But I set a trend pretty much. You could see the matches, they were kind of down, and then they saw 3 and 2 and they all started coming back. It was a good thing, really.

Q. You mentioned your caddy, but he's your boyfriend, isn't he?

PAULA CREAMER: Yes, he is.

Q. And last year was your dad on the bag?

PAULA CREAMER: Yes, he is.

Q. Can you compare that?

PAULA CREAMER: That will cause so many problems, we won't even go there.

Q. Let's go there.

PAULA CREAMER: It's just -- it's totally different. With my dad it's more technical, because he knows my golf game better than Tarik does. But with Tarik I feel very comfortable out there. I do with my dad, it's just a different kind of comfortable. Whatever it is, really, you know a caddy out there is just supposed to be supportive, help you with lots of things, but it's your ultimate decision out there. So I think it's tough to go -- tough to go there.

Q. I remember Hilary Lunke saying -- had Tyler on the bag, her husband, she said he played a big role in talking her, keeping her loose, do you talk about things in between shots other than about golf?

PAULA CREAMER: Of course we do. It's hard -- I mean the best players in the world, you know, they can stay out there five hours and focus all about golf. But I'm sure there's times out there you want to think about something else. And it's easy to talk to, with people that you feel comfortable with, especially like with my dad or Tarik, and that's what I do to help me relax, and I'm sure other people do it different ways, but I talk about other things.

RHONDA GLENN: Spell his entire name.

PAULA CREAMER: T-a-r-i-k, and then Can, C-a-n.

Q. After the last three weeks, anymore thoughts about turning professional?

PAULA CREAMER: I really haven't decided yet. I have one more year left of high school. I'll be 18 in August. You know, I haven't decided yet, I'm not sure which path I'll go on.

Q. Which way are you leaning?

PAULA CREAMER: I really don't know. It's tough, the last three weeks haven't helped my decision that much, haven't made things a lot easier.

RHONDA GLENN: You enjoy playing LPGA tournament, and more and more amateurs are doing that, playing more and more in the professional tournaments. What do you think has caused this sort of shift from strictly amateur competition to playing with the pros?

PAULA CREAMER: The LPGA is the next step, really. After you're an amateur there's -- you want to turn pro, that's your living. And I think it's -- for me it's helped a lot playing in LPGA events knowing that's what I'm going to have to be doing, when I decide whether I'm going to be going to college, with my life, really.

Q. When you finally do turn professional what are your goals down the road, what do you see yourself, when you are a pro, what are you looking to do?

PAULA CREAMER: You know, it's obviously when -- win Major championship tournaments, but to be the best player in the world, that's what my goal is. I know that's what my goal is, that's what I work hard for or try hard for. But just to play good golf, really. If someone plays better than you one day, so be it, just as long as you put your 110 percent in, that's all that counts.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about how you got started in golf; any of these women out playing, are any that you grew up watching?

PAULA CREAMER: I started out playing at ten, I was a gymnast, I was an acrobat. In 9th grade I had to decide to be a cheerleader or be on the golf team, and obviously I chose golf team. But Juli Inkster is my idol. I just -- I think she's a fantastic woman, a really -- she's a class act, all in all, she's just a great golfer, she's definitely helped women's golf. I think she's just amazing, really.

Q. Did you think you could win last year? Do you think you could win this week?

PAULA CREAMER: I did, but I didn't really believe it in myself. This year I do think that I could win. I felt I could win ShopRite. I felt I could win Wegmans. It's there, it's a matter of time. Right now I'm playing good golf. It's not my best ever, but, you know, I definitely think I can win this year.

Q. What was the change in attitude, what was the turning point there in your thinking?

PAULA CREAMER: It was just time. I was there, but I wasn't mentally playing tough enough. It was -- last year and this year are totally different. I have -- my golf game is a lot better, mentally I'm a lot tougher. I think that's the main thing, really, is my mental game has gotten a lot better.

Q. And also do you want to beat Michelle as bad as you did last year, no matter where you play?

PAULA CREAMER: I try to play the golf course, really, I don't play a certain person out there. I mean in golf, I guess I would like to beat anybody I want to play, obviously. But there's not one person that I try to beat.

Q. There seems to be a natural rivalry at age 14 and 17, if that's possible. You guys got to know each other better at the Curtis Cup. And I wonder if you could put a relationship/rivalry in perspective?

PAULA CREAMER: We're very good friends. We are, we know each other very well now. But to say if I want to beat her or not, I would like to say I want to beat anybody. If you win, you beat everybody. So it's kind of tough to point one person out, really.

Q. When you talk about making this decision, college versus pro, is it a case of like the safety of college versus the idea of being out here week after week trying to make a living, and have you talked to LPGA players about what that's like being out here every week?

PAULA CREAMER: I have. Lorie Kane has really taken me under her wing, I respect that about her. She's told me a lot of things I need to know on the LPGA Tour in deciding to go to college or not. There's a lot to it. I feel that if I -- I may not need to go to college. I mean, yes, it's a very big experience of your life, but I'm not sure yet. I don't know -- I have one more year to decide that. And I'm trying not to think really that far ahead. One tournament at a time, one day at a time.

Q. You talked a lot about the pressure, obviously playing the Curtis Cup and a lot of LPGA events and now the U.S. Open. Where do you find the balance to try to be a regular 17 year old. Is that tough to find that balance?

PAULA CREAMER: It is, but I know I don't live a normal teenage life. I know that. Yesterday, if it helps, I went and got a manicure and pedicure, I didn't play golf. So I try to do a lot of things. I'm such a girl, that I do pretty much everything. But golf is my life and I know that and that's fine with me. Hopefully it will all pay off in the long run.

Q. What kind of feedback did you get from ShopRite finishing second as an amateur, and do you think the chances of an amateur winning a U.S. Open are becoming greater as the years progress?

PAULA CREAMER: Of course I do. There are a lot of amateurs that are coming out that are going to be fantastic players, it's just, like I've been saying, it's just a matter of time of when they're all going to come. But they're definitely coming and hopefully I will be that amateur. But there's a lot more out here.

RHONDA GLENN: We used to say that Title IX and college golf really prompted young women to get involved with golf and become better players and obviously go on the pro Tour. But you're so much younger and the people coming along are so much younger, can you point to any one thing that inspired these younger players to become better players and come out in greater numbers.

PAULA CREAMER: I think there's a lot more technology that's definitely helped a lot. I go to the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. I've seen a lot of support. My family, they support me with everything, and I think that's a lot. My parents, they help me. It's just a lot more things that we know what to do now than what I think that there used to be, like nutritionists, psychologists, everything. It's there now that we can use. And I think that's helped a lot, tremendously.

Q. It seems there's a little irony, but you finished second to Cristie, when she came out she was 18 and never gave a thought to college. She was a rarity at the time. Now it seems like that's happening more and more, Aree Song. Why do you think this is happening, why do you think this is happening as a trend?

PAULA CREAMER: It's a tough question, really. I think for me, I don't really know how they look at it, but it is their future and there's a lot they can do. When you're a good golfer, really, your ability to play with people is higher. You can win tournaments. And I think it was, like Cristie, when you just said, when she was 18 it was really, "What is she doing out here?" But now it's become more of a trend, sponsors exemptions have helped a lot. I have had a couple of those and it's been great to see what -- this is what my life will be like.

RHONDA GLENN: Paula, good luck in the championship, and thanks so much for being with us.

End of FastScripts.

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