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March 2, 2014

Paula Creamer


MEGHAN FLANAGAN:   It is my absolute pleasure, like to extend the biggest congratulations to our 2014 HSBC Women's champion, Paula Creamer.
PAULA CREAMER:  Thank you.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  Holy moly, what a finish.  Let's just talk about the putt and just take us through that, because what an absolute epic finish.
PAULA CREAMER:  I said it in the interview, I could stand there all day long and hit a putt there, and charting it, it was saying five, six feet, and you know, it hit the back of the hole and went in.  I really didn't even watch the last four feet of it.  I was just hoping it would slowdown when it was near the hole and then it disappeared.  It's funny.  I looked at Colin, he said this has been coming, you've been working so hard, and things haven't gone your way in certain situations and finally kind of had a bit of luck with that one, and it did and it went in.  I seriously cannot tell you the way I felt.  It was like somebody just knocked the wind out of me.  It was pretty amazing.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  Well, knocked you to your knees.  Was it one of those moments that you just think, immediately, this is what I play for?  It looked like one of those moments that overtakes you.
PAULA CREAMER:  Yeah, and my friends were next to No.9 across, and Morgan was there in front of my best friends and Brittany and Cristie and Irene, they are all just standing over there.  I literally looked right at them, because as a golfer, you know, things happen for reasons, and when it went in, it's so neat to have your friends there, and of course Colin, he was just shaking his head.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN:   Let's talk about the round in regulation, a pretty stellar round overall on a day that didn't see too many low scores.  Take us through the front nine, two birdies on the front, two on the back and then the bogey on 13, just take us through the round and how you put together a really, really solid round Sunday.
PAULA CREAMER:  You know, I played well on the weekend.  I didn't play that well on Friday, and was working with my coach, David Wheelan, sending videos back and forth every day and trying to get some good swing thoughts.
We found one Friday afternoon when I woke up Saturday morning with the time change and it really helped.  David knows my golf swing better than I do for sure, and with what he said, just kind of clicked.  Worked really hard on practicing with the greens and the speed.  I practiced a lot after every round, and you know, I played well in the front, I had some looks, for sure.  You know, made a ton of par saves coming down the stretch.  Made a little bit more difficult than what I needed.  It was unfortunate with Webby on the last hole hitting the lip of the bunker, because she would have been right of course in the mix of that, too, in the playoff.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  Talk about some phone calls, I saw phone calls before the playoff, phone calls after the playoff.  I heard it was mom and dad.
PAULA CREAMER:  Mom and Dad was first.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  What did they have to say to you?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† When I called my parents after the first round‑‑ or the first time I played 18, after the final round, I called them and they were like, "Great job, man, you're stressing us out over here, what are you doing, grinding it out."¬†¬†¬† And obviously tape delay, so I was telling them, get ready.
I haven't hit the fairway on 18 all four days.  I was in that right bunker, so I kind of talked to them and talked to my caddie, Colin and said, what do you want to do, and just stuck with the plan and hit driver.  Then the next thing you know, we're in the playoff and I called Derek and he's like, what is going on here.  He's like, a playoff?  What's happening?
You know, a bunch more phone calls after the playoff.  I think my dad is still on cloud nine as we speak.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN:¬†¬† The last playoff you had was at Kingsmill with the epic playoff there.¬† I heard you say in the TV interview, you wanted to get this one finished pretty quickly.¬† What was mind‑set going into that against Aza?
PAULA CREAMER:  Aza has been playing great and I knew she was not going to make a mistake, and I knew someone was going to have to make a birdie.  It's a tough tin placement and decided to lay up in the second time in the playoff.  I had a number and I trusted it, but you know, it's one of those things that, would you do it again, would you not; of course I would do what I did.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN:¬†¬† Was that not even a second thought to go for it‑‑
PAULA CREAMER: ‑‑ between a 5‑wood and a 3‑wood, it's so fast above the pin but you've got to carry those bunkers.¬† I weaved it right through the middle of it hit it a little bit thin out in the fairway.¬† But I knew I had enough club and it would have been fine, and the putt, just, what do you do.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN:¬†¬† I'm sure half of this has to be very, very‑‑ a good feeling in terms of snapping the winless streak, which I've heard you get asked enough times that I'm almost sick of hearing it.¬† But this has to be so sweet to win again since 2010 for you.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† It might be one of my favorite wins, and that's going‑‑ taking a pretty big leap right there.¬† But you know, it has, it's been almost three years and you know, so much has happened.¬† I guess I've come close and playoff with Jiyai and wasn't going to go play it eight times and come back the next day, that's for sure.¬† It has been coming and it just shows you perseverance.¬† That's why I love the game.¬† I work hard for this reason.
And holding that trophy, gosh, it was so nice.

Q.  Couple of things, could you just tell us what Dave Wheelan advised, and then can you just confirm details of your previous playoff.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Well, David Wheelan, we‑‑ I lose my height a little bit in my golf swing. ¬†It's actually at the takeaway.¬† So been really working on keeping my height and I get a little bit long, I get a little bit too long on my backswing to shorten and tighten everything up and basically to just trust the release with my hands.¬† For so many years because of my thumb I've been coming across it and coming this way and my right shoulder goes forward.¬† Basically we've been really working on my right shoulder going down instead of towards the ball.¬† He just said those key words, keep your right shoulder down and let it go, and don't hold onto it too tight.

Q.  And the other playoff?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† The playoff with Jiyai was at Kingsmill.¬† We played the 18th hole eight times, and I 3‑putted it in regulation.¬† So we went into a playoff.
I played it eight times.¬† We all parred it eight times.¬† And some of the best up‑and‑downs I think we've ever had.¬† And then we came back the next morning and we switched holes, and I ended up 3‑putting it and she 2‑putted it and won.¬† So thanks for coming, nine holes.¬† I couldn't believe we changed the hole the next day.¬† I said, we just played it eight times, I think we can play it nine times.

Q.  Last year, the LPGA Tour added a fifth major, the Evian, yet there are none of those majors here in Asia.  Can you tell us your views on that and why the HSBC does not figure among those?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Well, I think as players we view this as a major.¬† Logistics‑wise you have to talk to the Commissioner about that.¬† I'm not inclined to talk about that one, that's not my position.¬† We do love this event.¬† We do have five majors and this is a major towards us as a player.
They do such a great job hosting us.  I said down on the 18th green, they are a great partner with us and they have been very loyal to our tour and hopefully that can continue for many more years down the road.

Q.  Four events this year and no Asian winners yet.  This is a tour that's been dominated by Asian players for a long time, do you think there's a sense of a shift and its Asian dominance is under threat in some way?
PAULA CREAMER:  You never know.  It's early.  We've only played four events like you said.  It's funny, golf always goes through waves.  You can't predict which country is going to do better than one.
Obviously there's many players from Asia out on our tour so they tend to be more at the higher top of the leaderboards and there's some great players but every country has good players.  Look at Aza from Spain look at from the United States here, and you have Webby from Australia on the board, Angela Stanford from the United States.
I think it's just a really good time for women's golf right now, but it's easy to say, there's been no Asian winners.  I'm sure that's not going to be the case the whole year.  But just got to take care of your own business.

Q.  Were you surprised given how well Karrie has been playing this week that she had kind of the mental breaks on the back nine today?  Did you think that that was even a possibility?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† I mean, I don't know how she played on the back nine.¬† I don't know what‑‑ if she made mistakes or this or that.¬† Obviously I saw the shot on 18 when she hit the lip of the bunker but she's been playing awesome.¬† She's always been a really good ball‑striker.¬† She has a lot of confidence obviously coming off the win in Australia, and I don't know what the discussion was on 18 with the lip of the bunker, but obviously look back in hindsight and say, man, should have just tried to lay up instead of going over that other bunker, but things happen.

Q.  I think you were third in this tournament twice when it was at Tanah Merah, can you do a comparison between the two courses?
PAULA CREAMER:  It's funny, I remember sitting on the 18th green last year when Stacy won and I was in the mix there and I didn't play that great on the back nine.  I remember sitting there just watching her hold the trophy, and there's obviously times in everybody's life where things happen and this and that, and just watching her there and knowing that I could have played better on the back nine, just kind of really motivated me and made me just want it even more.
And you know, I've played well here; I've played well at Tanah Merah, as well, but this golf course just seems to really fit my style of golf.  You have to think a lot.  You have to, you know, it's not just a place where you go and hit driver on every hole.  And I like that.  I always have played well that way.  You know, it just fits well.
Either course, if we go back to Tanah Merah or not, I like that one, as well.  I think it just has a lot to do with the toughness, the difficulty of it here.

Q.  At the press conference a couple days ago, you mentioned that you were in a happy place because of your engagement.  So how much has that contributed to your performance this year?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Well, I can't say that‑‑ it has everything to do with it.¬† I just am in such a good place.¬† I am blessed with what I have.¬† I'm blessed with what I've been given.¬† It's a lot of hard work.¬† Like I said, there's a lot of up‑and‑downs but Derek just makes me so happy and makes me want to be better out here.¬† He just motivates me.¬† Not that I don't need that, but it's nice when it comes from other people and your team around you.¬† It all comes down to believing in yourself; if you don't, then nobody else will.¬† They have just really kind of opened my eyes and said, you know, it's not going to be like this forever.¬† There's low times that I've had; they have been difficult.¬† I've had a lot of high expectations and to have met my match and to have met the man of my dreams, basically, you can't take anything away from that.¬† There's 100 percent reason why I'm sitting here today the way that I am.¬† He just makes me happier and makes me‑‑ allows me to play better golf.

Q.  You talked about the value of perseverance and about how you've been practicing on the greens every day.  How big a part did that play in that final putt today?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Oh, huge.¬† Even in the regulation on the putts on 16, that 2‑putt that we had on 16, I had a very easy up‑and‑down on 7 or 17, something you should make.¬† And I had to make a 7‑footer.¬† I think that it all comes down to just working hard.
My dad told me before I went out today, he said, you know, whatever you do, just don't give anything away.¬† At the end of the day, just‑‑ if somebody plays better, somebody plays better, but don't sit there and say, I could have‑‑ don't let shots get away from you if they don't need to.¬† You know, I just was grinding.¬† I just grinded as hard as I could.¬† Even in regulation on 18, I had a four and a half footer that broke two cups.¬† It wasn't like the easiest 2‑putt there, either.¬† So I do; practice is always something that makes you stronger.

Q.  This I believe is your 10th year as a professional.  Can you try to envisage ten years from now where you'll be?
PAULA CREAMER:  That seems to be the question everybody's been asking me.  Ten years, I'm 27; I'll be 37 years old, wow.  I want to make it to tomorrow.
You know, I love what I do, and when that passion dies, I guess you could say, is when I hang up my golf shoes.  I get nervous when I walk to the first tee.  I get nervous when I'm out there playing, especially coming down the stretch today but those are the nerves and that's why I play.
When I don't feel that, is when I have to kind of rethink what I'm doing and of course I want to be a mom and I want to have kids, but it would be very difficult.  You see there's reasons why Lorena and Annika did what they did and stepped away from the game to become a mother.  And Juli is obviously a huge model, Juli Inkster is obviously a huge role model of me and who I've always looked up to, but there's only one Juli.  I don't know if you can balance everything out.  So when that time comes, we'll have to have a big sit down.  There will be a nice meeting that day.

Q.  The significance, ending your LPGA title drought, will it go down as the best putt you've ever made in your career?
PAULA CREAMER:  There were so many photographers and cameras there, I can relive the moment.  We have it captured so we can relive the moment over and over again.  It will be fun to show my kids one day; see, this is what your mom did.
But like I said, I made another putt similar to that.  It was in Solheim with Cristie Kerr, it was a huge moment in one of our matches.  It was the 16th hole and it was a huge long one, above, all that kind of stuff.  It was very similar to that.
It's one of those putts, you hit it the perfect speed, and I hit the back of the hole.  I don't ever have to do it again hopefully, you know, until next year.

Q.  Well, you're in a good place now, and three years is a long time without a title; going back to three years before today, were there some really difficult times?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† It was the hardest three years‑‑ it's been‑‑ the last, not maybe last year, but probably from two years after the U.S. Open win, and then that following year, so that would be 2012, basically, I just was struggling.¬† I was enjoying what I was doing but I wasn't loving it.¬† It was hard.¬† My thumb hurt.¬† My arm hurt.¬† I was coming off of surgery and he told me to take a year, and I didn't believe him.
In reality, they were 150 percent right and what do I know, I'm just a golfer.  My expectations were way too high.  I did.  I got in my own way for a little bit.  And it has, it's been very difficult.  I know my potential and I know how hard I work, and you can't control anybody else but I wasn't living up to my own expectations, not what everybody else said, not what people thought I should do.  I just wasn't living up to my own, and it was tough.  I had to kind of go through it, but like I said, sometimes you have to go backwards to go forward.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN:   I feel like you were the queen of this week starting on Tuesday.  I asked you that the other day.  You did the photo call, the press conference, Air Weave is your new sponsor, IMG is your management team who runs this event, almost a perfect setting.  Do you feel that you were so emotionally invested and dedicated to this event that it makes this that much more sweet.
PAULA CREAMER:  100 percent.  You always have to do sponsor days with your partners, but being able to sleep on an Air Wave, do an Air Weave announcement, it's meant to be in a sense, it's an IMG event, Ricoh is out there.  It's funny how things do all fall together.
I think it must have been my Kung Fu moves on Tuesday that brought me in the mental state of where I'm at.  And she was there; she came out and she was giving me thumbs up, my Kung Fu trainer.  She said, "Oh, great job, great job."
I said, "I owe you, I owe you a beer."
It is, and that's the thing, you have to learn how to balance, and ten years out here, I think I've kind of learned how much to take and how much you can chew and all that kind of stuff, and it did.  It all seemed to work out and now here we are.  It's crazy.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN:   Congratulations again.

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