Creamer in Ann Arbor, aiming for upswing
Ann Arbor — Paula Creamer understands as well as anyone how fickle golf can be.
She’s been at the top, a winner as an 18-year-old in 2005 and a major champion five years later at the U.S. Open.
Since then, however, one of the biggest names in women’s golf has had her share of ups and downs. She’s won 10 times during her career, but just one has come since that U.S. Open title.
And as she prepares to play in the inaugural Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club this week, she’s trying to regain the winning touch after suffering through a 2015 season that saw her earn a career-low $363,485 and finish with a scoring average of 71.69, the worst of her career.
“This game drives you crazy at times,” Creamer said Tuesday. “I’ve been playing really well. It’s a shame my scores haven’t shown that but it’s not a confidence issue or anything like that. It’s definitely just eliminating some mistakes here and there, getting the putter hot, having to see the ball go in the hole a bit more than it has.”
Creamer is determined to have it all come together again. Even with the struggles of last season, Creamer finished by taking part in her fifth Solheim Cup, playing a key role as a captain’s pick to help the United States defeat Europe.
Not long after that, Creamer made a switch in coaches, joining with Gary Gilchrist, who worked with Yani Tseng when she was No. 1 in the world and with Michelle Wie early in her career.
Creamer and Gilchrist began working together in December, and by the time the season started in January, Creamer was feeling good about her game again. She tied for fifth at the Pure-Silk Bahamas Classic to open the season, tied for 15th a few weeks later at the HSBC Championship, and tied for fourth two weeks after that at the JTBC Founders Cup.
“We have been working really hard, and I really feel it’s just a matter of time of when I’m going to break through and have that good week and then kind of get my momentum going from there,” Creamer said. “Hopefully that’s this week.”
After that tie for fourth, Creamer has finished no better than 35th and has missed the cut at her last two events — the Swinging Skirts Classic near the end of April and last week’s Kingsmill Championship.
“I feel really good,” she said. “I’ve actually been playing a lot better than my scores have shown. It’s just a matter of tie of putting it all together, and hopefully this week I can make some putts. That’s kind of the thing that has been holding me back, my putter. I’ve made good putts, they just haven’t gone in yet.”
Having everything come together this week won’t be easy. Eight of the top 10 players in the rankings are in the field, and 17 of the top 25. Included in that group are the top four players — Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson and Sei Young Kim. Also in the field is Ariya Jutanugarn, who is looking to win her third straight start.
Creamer believes that shows the importance of the first-year event, which is positioned two weeks before the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
“The field’s great,” Creamer said. “You’ve got the best players in the world playing this week. Some players like to play three or four in a row, some players like to play in front of major, some don’t.
“But it just shows that this is important to us with the turnout that it has and the field size, so I think that shows that we care. When we’re here, we want to play.”
With a new event, players are getting their first look at Travis Pointe.
Creamer played her first round Tuesday while Thompson got some holes in Monday and Tuesday before playing in Wednesday’s pro-am.
“First look at the golf course is mainly just getting the tee shots down,” Thompson said. “Getting small targets to aim at off the tee and the really figuring out the breaks on the greens, getting the direction on which way the green goes and where you want to leave your putts. It usually comes down to the short game and putting on a golf course.”
Course: Travis Pointe CC (6,709 yards, par 72), Ann Arbor
TV: Golf Channel — 7-9 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Purse: $1.3 million ($195,000 to winner)
Tickets: Daily passes $20-$40, weeklong passes $60-$120
Details: volviklpga.com or (734) 707-0789
Notable: Saturday’s round will be an “Orange Out for ChadTough!” with $10 from the sale of each $30 ticket going to The ChadTough Foundation. Tickets include grounds pass, Orange Out for ChadTough! T-shirt and choice of a sleeve of Volvik golf balls, orange Volvik baseball cap or orange tee holder.