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April 1, 2014

Paula Creamer


THE MODERATOR:  It's fantastic to have Paula Creamer, winner this year, here in the press room.  There's a bunch of different ways we could go to kick this off.  We could go ring, we could go putt, we could go victory, or that you have not missed a cut in a major in your entire career.  What does that say about you?  That is really impressive.
PAULA CREAMER:  Why did you say that?  I don't think you needed to add that part to it.
I don't know, I guess I've been pretty lucky in that sense.
THE MODERATOR:  I know Solheim Cups and competition for teams get you fired up.  What is it about a major specifically?  You're competitive.  What else?
PAULA CREAMER:  The best golf courses are the ones we play.  Great crowds, biggest venues.  Most of the time you play really difficult courses.  Those are the kind of golf courses that I grew up on and that I really love.
I love being able to hit every kind of shot in your golf bag and using all 14 clubs.  Most of the majors, they have that.  They have that ability to go to the golf course, every day is kind of different, weather, tee boxes, pin placement.  It can be more aggressive.  I like that kind of golf.
THE MODERATOR:  If somebody said 22‑under is going to win this week or plus‑2 might win this week, you relish the plus‑2 and the challenge?
PAULA CREAMER:  I love that.  I think half the battle of golf is also grinding it out and making those pars, eliminating those big mistakes that you can make.  When they hang a carrot in your face, when they move a tee box up, make it a drivable par 4, you have to think a lot, I love that.  That's a whole other part of golf that you have to be good at as well as hitting the shot and making the putt.
THE MODERATOR:  How about 75‑foot putts?  Do you relish that, as well?
PAULA CREAMER:  I would take it, definitely take it.
THE MODERATOR:  Brian Williams, NBC News, you were everywhere.
PAULA CREAMER:  I don't think at the time, and I still don't realize, how big that putt really was.  For me emotionally it was just huge, being able to get the monkey off my back, to have that win.  But to do it in that type of way, in that fashion, 75 foot, you could just see my emotions for it.  I was so excited, overwhelmed, shocked, everything.
To be able to watch it on TV and to see all these things, that's something I joke around with, but saying I get to show my kids that one day.  When they say I'm not cool, I can say, I did this, though (laughter).
THE MODERATOR:  Let's take some questions.

Q.  This would seem to be a golf course and a tournament you would thrive in.  It's the one major you haven't had a top 10 in.  Is it too much pushing on yourself or something about the course that doesn't fit your game?
PAULA CREAMER:  You know, this golf course actually, if you look at it, it really does fit my game really well.  You have to be able to put the ball in the right spots of the greens, give yourself good looks at putts, hit it to the right side of the fairway.  Especially when the rough is up.
I don't know.  I believe it will be my 10th time playing here.  I missed one as a professional, but I played one as an amateur.  I feel like maybe I put too much pressure on myself with it being the first major of the year, making my expectations a little bit high, putting the bar a little bit too high.
Last year was I think my best finish.  Unfortunately my grandmother passed away that Sunday, Easter Sunday.  My mind was on different things.  I was not really here in a sense.  I just went out and played some golf.  I kind of learned from that that maybe I'm taking these practice rounds and things a little bit too seriously when I come out here instead of just playing golf.

Q.  You mentioned fairways as opposed to rough.  The rough, not quite as high this year.  Is that a good thing for you?  Would you rather see it at five inches?
PAULA CREAMER:  I would definitely rather see it five inches.  This golf course has its ups and downs.  We've come here in the past with the rough heights.  It's a shame it's not five inches.  Definitely you can hit a 5‑iron out of the rough if you do hit it in there.  The greens I'm sure will get faster as the weekend comes around.  They're so green.  I've never seen this golf course so green and lush, the actual grass.
I do wish the rough was up a little bit.  But it is what it is.  You're just going to have to play with what the golf course gives you now.
THE MODERATOR:  Winning changes the perspective on the tough times you go through.  Now that you have that monkey off your back, have you thought about what was the reason it wasn't falling into place for you?  Was it irons, putting, Lady Luck in a way?
PAULA CREAMER:  Obviously after I won, it was very close to when I had surgery.  All my doctors, physio, everybody, said, It will take you a good year to overcome and get your left arm back.  I didn't believe them.  Being a stubborn athlete, I thought, Okay, I'll be fine.
It really did take a long time.  Changing my golf swing around, I've been working with my coach David since I was 16.  It was a time to really break down my golf swing now that I had my strength back, being able to do things with my golf swing that I've never been able to do before.  For me, that's what I had to do.  I had to go backwards to go forwards.

Q.  You've been coming here for a long time.  With this being Kraft's last year, what would you like to see happen with this tournament in 2015 and beyond?
PAULA CREAMER:  I mean, this is the 42nd or something year.  I hope we're here another 42 years.  There's not much more to say than just tradition.  There's so much that goes on with this tournament, through the players.  Every woman known to man has walked down that cart path in front of that water.  It's nostalgia.  Hopefully we'll be sitting here saying that in 35 more years, for sure.

Q.  A lot of golfers when they leave juniors and turn pro, they end up with different coaches.  How have you kept the same coach?  What are the challenges?  Can you see why so many golfers go with somebody else?
PAULA CREAMER:  Yeah, I have been so lucky.  I found a good one.  He's like my dad.  I spend so much time with him.  He knows me better than a lot of people, even my family.
I think the biggest thing is he knows how to play golf.  He's been on the European Tour.  He's won.  He knows what it's like to have droughts.  He knows what it's like to win, have confidence over a 6‑footer, 10‑footer, what it feels like to 3‑putt on the last hole.
He is a feel player, never has been very technical.  I think the fact that he has watched me grow up and he's watched me since I was 16 just mature into a woman, I think that has helped so much.
Our relationship, I trust him with my life.  When he says, We have to do this, I believe it.  I believed in him.  It's the same with my whole team.  Been with my caddie 10 years.  My manager has changed three times in 10 years.  I'm big into loyalty and relationships.  You have to have that if you want to be a number one player or athlete in the world.
THE MODERATOR:  A lot of people have been asking you about this place that you're in personally.  I'm not going to ask any more.  Why don't you talk about it, why it's so positive for you right now.
PAULA CREAMER:  Well, Derek is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me.  He's just such an incredible person.  It's so nice to be around someone that is so positive.  I met him, I was going through a rough time with my golf.  He was just there no matter what.
I think being able to relate to what we do.  He's an Air Force pilot.  I can't imagine the pressure and feelings that he goes through, but I do understand the practice, the hours, what goes into it.  You just don't go into a plane and fly it into Afghanistan.  There's a lot of things you have to train for and be ready for anything that comes your way.
I have learned so much from him.  I'm so lucky and blessed that I get to spend the rest of my life with him.
THE MODERATOR:  Stacy Lewis talked about this, Karrie Webb talked about it.  The United States rallied to overtake South Korea as the number one seed.  If you go back let's say three years, there were some conversations among media folks and others about, Where are the Americans?  You all are the number one seed, things have changed in the rankings.  Is it something that's important to you?
PAULA CREAMER:  I think it's huge.  I know it's very important.  We are an international global tour, but our home is here in the United States.  The Americans do want to play well, we always have.  We have been out‑numbered at times.  But we have such a good, strong group.  I think that the biggest thing is a lot of these younger players are playing well.
Older, I don't even know what older is out here anymore, 25 is old.  I feel like we all are taking our part and learning our roles that we have.  We're strong.  We always have been.  It was just a matter of time where we break through.  That leaderboard last year was awesome.  There were so many American flags on it.  I think it's going to continue to play out.
At the same time it's good to see we are so international and global because it takes us all over the place, too.
THE MODERATOR:  Are you okay with the pressure on America?
PAULA CREAMER:  Our first match is against Australia.  They're a strong team.  We have to take it day to day, like any match play event.
I feel good about our team.  We've obviously played on Solheim together.  We know what it's like to choose partners, to be there for someone.  At the same time you have to get the ball in the hole.
THE MODERATOR:  That's July.  This is now.  Good luck to you.  Have a great week, Paula.

Q.  I was just looking at that incredible 75‑foot putt.  You did say you were struggling, that you lost the love for the game.  Does that win now bring the love of the game back to your heart?
PAULA CREAMER:  I've never lost love of the game.  That's for sure.  The day that ever happens, I'm putting the clubs in the garage, we try a new sport.
But, no, I think it was never the love of the game.  There's a passion when you dedicate yourself this much to something, if you ever lose that, you have to rethink what you're doing.
For me it was the grind.  It's tough.  It's very difficult out here.  Trying to also grow as a person, I'm not just Paula Creamer on the golf course, I'm also Paula Creamer a person.  I think learning how to balance those two things... 
It's no fun when you're playing bad.  It really isn't.  I had a lot of times where I said that to my coach, to Colin, I'm not enjoying this.
How could you?  You're not playing to your potential.  This is what is going to make you tougher and stronger.  We always used it as a positive to turn it around.
I'm very lucky that even my bad three‑year slump, it wasn't horrible if you look at it in the big picture, in the big scheme of things.  It just wasn't to what I feel I could have accomplished.
For me, it was more of an internal battle of overcoming what I had to overcome.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Paula.

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