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July 6, 2011

Paula Creamer


RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, we're very honored to have someone with us who I just love introducing as the immediate past U.S. Women's Open champion. Her reign last, well, actually until the end of the week and then maybe resumes.
Paula Creamer, I must mention, has done a wonderful job for the United States Golf Association in promoting this championship and also promoting the game of golf for junior girls.
We're very grateful to her and the role that she's played as champion. Tell us a little bit about your year. You're the Women's Open champion. How did that make it different?
PAULA CREAMER: It's been fun. It's definitely -- I have done a lot of really neat things because of it. I got to fly in an F-16, just things that I don't think I would have done before. But it has, it's been a great ride. Hopefully I can feel it again next year or the year after. It has been nice.
It was a tough day when I had to give my trophy back. That's for sure. I definitely didn't want to wrap it up and put it back in the box, but you have to do it. (Smiling).
It has, it's been really nice. I've enjoyed every moment of it. You know, like I said, hopefully we'll keep it going.
RHONDA GLENN: She also did media day for us, came in for that, which is sometimes a very difficult trip in the middle of the golf season.
Flying in an F-16, tell me, how did that happen?
PAULA CREAMER: I flew with the Thunderbirds, and we actually flew over Oakmont. I pulled 9.1 Gs. I didn't get sick. That's the number one thing. I didn't get sick. It was a great opportunity, and, you know, I have very good military ties on my dad's side of the family. It's always something I have wanted to do.
My dad is Navy, so flying with the Thunderbirds was tough not - with the Blue Angels - but we're all under one big umbrella.
But it was fun. I don't know if necessarily I would have had that chance to do it if I didn't have won last year. But it was neat. I don't have to do it again. I've done it once. There's no need to get back up in that jet.
RHONDA GLENN: Terrific. Questions?

Q. I just want to know, what are your feelings about being paired with Yani? Is that a good matchup? Is that a good pairing for you? How does that alter what you do, or does it at all?
PAULA CREAMER: You know, I think it's a great pairing. You know, I think right now she's hot. She's a hot player. She's got a lot of confidence in her putter. She's hitting the ball great. You know, she's the player to beat.
However, it is Thursday, Friday, so you can't dwell too much about what's going on out there. That's gonna be the big key, is just taking care of my own business. I can't control what she does. I can't control all the other players out there.
You know, I've prepared a lot for this event and I feel very good. I just have to get in my own world out there and take care of my own business.

Q. Can you talk about the different mindset this year? You're a defending champion this time as opposed to last year coming off the injury. How does that change your mindset?
PAULA CREAMER: It's definitely a different week, that's for sure. I know last year it was the first time I could hit balls off the range without a tee before I could go out and play. This year, you know, it's different. I'm hitting balls out of rough here and there.
But as in pressure, it's different. I feel the same amount of pressure that I put on myself every week, but I'm very relaxed. I have done a lot of work out here, I feel very confident, very comfortable on the greens, out on the golf course.
I think it's a much more relaxed, controlled pressure, I guess you could say.
Of course, I mean, I have my US Open; I want another one. But at the same time, I know what it takes to win that. I'm trying to have that same mindset that I did last year and that I have had in the past major championships.

Q. What's the biggest challenge, do you think, on this course? There's the altitude, tricky greens, and there's whatever else the USGA does to the rough and whatnot.
PAULA CREAMER: What's the hardest? Was that...

Q. It all conspires to make you think, that's for sure.
PAULA CREAMER: Well, it's an exhausting golf course. It's a long walk. Lots of thinking. Definitely if you lose your mind on one shot, I mean, it's gonna cost you big time here.
You know, everybody talks about the greens, and, yes, the greens are key. But it's also where you put the ball on the green. So I mean, these are humongous greens. I don't think I've played in an Open with greens this large before.
So it comes to being very strong and precise with your irons. You know, when you're hitting high-lofted short irons into these greens, you're going to have 10-, 15-footers instead of people who have to hit 5-irons.
So I think length is a big advantage out here, but you have to keep it in the short grass. The rough is very deceiving. It doesn't look very thick, but it is nasty. I mean, there are some lies out there where it's almost virtually impossible to get it anywhere close. You just have to face and accept bogey sometimes.
But I would say, I mean, altitude, it's tough, yes, but there's so many uphill-downhill shots. It's not like it's a -- you don't have very many shots that are level, so it kind of gets canceled out.

Q. I was at the U.S. Open, and we tend to see some younger girls, teenagers. I know there was a girl who just turned 13, Mariel participating this week. What are some of the keys to making the transition from successful teenager to long term being successful into your 20s, and I guess keep improving and playing well at these majors year after year?
PAULA CREAMER: It's balance, balance in your life. I mean, you see a lot of people just golf is everything and they get burned out. I have been very lucky. You know, I have a great team around me. I have, you know, hobbies that I do.
Yes, golf is my life, it's my passion. But at the same time, I'm also, you know, doing other things. You know, you can't let it affect your everyday functions of your life, that kind of thing.
You see a lot of young players that are great and you don't know where they go. I think that you do have to mature. Maturity out here is everything. You know, it's tough. It's hard. It's a lot harder than what anybody thinks it is, unless you're out there week in and week out.
I was 18, and what I know now and what I knew then, it's very different. And that's just the way that I think how you're put in the position and handled. But the people around me helped me the most. I mean, this is my seventh year out here and it doesn't feel like that. But I'll be 25 in August. It's a scary thought how fast it goes by.
RHONDA GLENN: What are some of the hobbies you enjoy?
PAULA CREAMER: I love fashion. I love being a girl. I like going places. I mean, I like giving back to the game as well. I think that's a lot of fun, being with kids. You know, I'm working a lot on my foundation. You know, just making my house a home, things like that. It's fun. It's nice that you have that balance, but it is difficult to find it. You know, you do need people to kind of help you, guide you through that. It's not just something you pick up on your own.
Having hobbies for me has been something that I've really gotten better at in the last several years I have been out here.

Q. Did you change the loft in any of your clubs this week, particularly for this week?
PAULA CREAMER: I took out -- I normally have four wedges in my bag, and I have three this week. I put in a rescue club. So I now have -- it's much more top heavy, my bag, instead of bottom heavy.
I didn't change the loft of my driver or anything like that.

Q. I'm writing something about military appreciation. I talked to you about it earlier. I know your father flew for the Navy.

Q. Did he actually fly in battles or did he ever share any stories like that with you?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, he -- goodness, he was in the reserves for 27 years. He never flew in battle, quote unquote, but he definitely graduated Annapolis and flew for them, but no like war stories or anything, no.

Q. What did you learn at Interlachen and Saucon Valley that helped you at Oakmont?
PAULA CREAMER: What did I learn?

Q. Yeah.
PAULA CREAMER: Patience. Honestly, one shot at a time. I always think -- it's a good thing and it's a bad thing. I think I can hit every shot. When I have it in my hand, I feel I can do this. Sometimes it's not gonna happen that way.
I think planning, definitely mapping out a golf course and really realizing that a couple under par is gonna win a major championship. It's not going to be 10-, 12-under par. I have had a hard time in the past accepting pars, and I think that I've gotten a lot better at that.
But really just doing only what I can do. Like I said earlier, I can't control what other players do. I have to go out there and, you know, play within myself and hit shots that I know are the smart shots.
And Colin and my coach David and I, we've talked about it a lot. Just preparation, not killing myself 18 holes every day, you know, not practicing seven hours a day.
A lot of major championships is the buildup, the anticipation of teeing off on Thursday. I think that I have prepared myself much better these past years.

Q. After the bogey on No. 12 on Sunday at Oakmont, you just took those last six holes and strangled them, really. I mean...
PAULA CREAMER: I wasn't gonna let it get away from me. 12, I didn't like that hole; that hole didn't like me. We didn't get along. After that, I said, It's clear sailing from here. I'm going to play the way I know I can play. I just fought hard and grinded.
It's easy, not necessarily to ever give up, but it's daunting over time. You put a lot of pressure on yourself. I just said, I'm not gonna do it. I'm gonna overcome it, and I did.
Thinking about it, it gives me a lot more confidence knowing that I have done it and I can do it again.
RHONDA GLENN: You mentioned the names of two of your coaches, I believe. Would you tell us complete names so we have it on record.
PAULA CREAMER: David Whelan is my coach and Colin Cann is my caddie.
RHONDA GLENN: David, last name W-h....
PAULA CREAMER: -e-l-a-n.
RHONDA GLENN: And Colin's last name again?

Q. How did it feel to take the Open trophy back to your hometown, Pleasanton?
PAULA CREAMER: (Laughing.) Sorry, I know him. That's why I'm laughing. I'm like, What are you doing, man?
No, it was great being able to go back to Castlewood where I've grown up and I've lived on the first hole there.
But having a wonderful party and having all the members and the juniors come up, it was very special.
You know, it's taking a little piece of what I have out here to bring back to them and what they've given me the opportunities to do. It was very nice.
RHONDA GLENN: When was that party?
PAULA CREAMER: It was after CVS last year, so September.

Q. What exactly is it that makes these greens so tough? I know you said they were big. Something else? Tough to read? How are you and Colin kind of navigating them?
PAULA CREAMER: You know, they look uphill and they're downhill. They look left to right and they're right to left. So a lot of it is really committing. You know, you can chart these greens forever, and there's just -- it depends on where you are at that moment. I mean, a foot left, a foot right of where you're starting is a huge difference.
A lot of it is speed. Everything here is about speed, and it's just -- it's so uphill and it's so downhill.
Oakmont you had that all the time, but you knew it was seven feet right to left.
Here it's like, well, a little bit firmer, three feet, four feet. It's just it's a lot of -- I think that the player is going to have to do a lot more this week. I mean, you see a lot of player caddies reading putts out here. But if that person doesn't know how hard you're gonna hit it, you're going to have some confusing looks at each other.
But it's just trusting what you have in your book and knowing that. And that mountain and the shrine and everything is so key out here. You'll see girls looking around for it, and it helps, for sure.

Q. You were talking earlier about balance and what it takes to succeed out here. If my memory serves, several years back, there was a group of, my term, "kiddie corps," that came out to Cherry Hills. What's the main way you're better now than then? Is it easier than you thought back then or is it harder than you thought back then?
PAULA CREAMER: As in like the play or...

Q. The whole deal, winning out here, whether it's a major week to week or whatever.
PAULA CREAMER: It's very hard, yes. But at the same time, I mean, it's a difficult question, because, I mean, I would never have turned professional if I didn't think I could have won. Cherry Hills was my first Open as a professional; it's one of my favorite golf courses I've ever played.
You have a lot of young players that have a lot of confidence. You get out here and you play over several years, and, you know, it's a grind. It's tough. It's hard.
30 weeks of the year you're traveling and you don't live that normal life, quote unquote, whatever a normal life is outside of this.
But for me, I have embraced it. I mean, this is what I want to do. This is what I've wanted to do for a while. I have a lot of goals I want to achieve. It's hard, yes, but it's very rewarding at the end. You're going to have your good days and your bad days.
Like I said earlier, what I know now and what I knew then I'm still learning. My goodness, I talk to a lot of the veterans here, people who aren't even playing anymore to try to help me. Because it is tough, especially what I want to do with the game of golf.
My No. 1 goal every year is be No. 1 American so I can help promote the game and give back. That takes time, as well. So learning how to manage everything in a week is difficult, let alone a whole year.

Q. Did you think it was easier then than it's turned out to be? Because you were young and brash and confident? Or no? What's the main thing you've learned in those intervening years to succeed?
PAULA CREAMER: Like I said, I don't think "easier" is the right word. I mean, like I said, it's hard. It's a hard life. I wouldn't have gotten into it -- I mean, I still would have done the same thing I did seven years ago and would have turned professional. I have no regrets of what I have done. I enjoy it.
But I can't say if it's easier than what I thought. I have a lot of goals, and every year I look at the goals that I want to achieve. And if I don't achieve them, then no, it wasn't easier, or yes, it was easier.
And what I have learned? Time management. That's No. 1.
RHONDA GLENN: So we can help her with her time management this afternoon, do we have any more questions?
We're all set. Thank you so much. Good luck this week, Paula.

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