Golf: Paula Creamer dreams of Rio 2016

Golf: Paula Creamer dreams of Rio 2016

She's a world famous golf star who everyone knows loves pink.

Starting from the age of 12, she has already won nearly 50 titles and awards combined - both amateur and professional and including the 2005 LPGA Rookie of the Year accolade.

But Paula Creamer displays only two pieces of silverware in her home in Windermere, Florida - the 2010 US Open trophy and the HSBC Women's Champions crown, which she claimed at Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course last year, after sinking an improbable 75-foot eagle putt to beat Spain's Azahara Munoz in a play-off.

She (above, second from right) obviously cherishes the HSBC Women's champions prize and it will be no surprise to fans of the game here that she is back to defend her crown.

Creamer - nicknamed the Pink Panther - said yesterday: "Besides my US Open trophy, it is my only other trophy at my house and I think that says a lot. My parents have all my other trophies.

"It is something that means a lot to me and I look at it pretty much every day I'm home. I see it and it reminds me of perseverance, and working hard."

That victory in 2014 ended the 28-year-old's four-year trophy drought, although she finished the season 22nd on the money list, slipping to 20th in the world, her lowest ranking since turning pro.

Creamer hopes Singapore is a happy hunting ground and she will draw inspiration from her win here last year to make waves at Sentosa once again and climb the world rankings.

It is crucial, because she has made the 2016 Rio Olympics her top priority in the short term.

Speaking at a pre-tournament press conference at Sentosa Golf Club yesterday, Creamer, now world No. 26, said: "That is everything that I have ever wanted, to represent my country in the Olympics. I have a little bit over a year to get into shape and make that team.

"There are only a couple of girls who get the opportunity to play and that is something that I would love to do."

The top 15 golfers, based on the world ranking on July 11 next year, will qualify for the individual event at the Olympics in Brazil, with a maximum of four entries per country.

The rest of the 60-strong field next year will comprise a maximum of two golfers per country, based on world rankings and ensuring that each continent is represented.

Based on the current world rankings, Stacy Lewis (No. 3), Michelle Wie (6) and Lexi Thompson (11) will make the cut for the Americans, while Brittany Lincicome (17), Christie Kerr (18), Jessica Korda (19) and Angela Stanford (24) are all ahead of Creamer in the race for the fourth and final spot, if the US make the cut today.

RUSTY

The "Pink Panther" will need to shake off her early-season rust if she is to achieve her Olympic dream. After her honeymoon last December, where she didn't touch a club for three weeks, she finished tied-53rd at the Coates Golf Championship Presented by R+L Carriers at the end of January and, a week later, was tied-47th at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic.

She finished tied-46th at the Honda LPGA Thailand in Pattaya last Sunday.

Yet, the former world No. 2 is confident and looking forward to standing on the tee in the first round tomorrow.

She said: " I feel great, I really do. I've always played well at this golf course."

Creamer has already tried to recreate her momentous winning putt in practice sessions here over the last couple of days.

She said: "I played the back nine yesterday and I putted it a couple of times to see. I didn't stand there and putt 25 balls.

"I just thought that one or two times would be fun. I don't ever have to do it again in that (competitive) setting; well, hopefully.

"You'll never know."

sayheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 4, 2015.
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