We all know that magazines have to sell news to keep subscriptions and viewership up, but it’s an increasing habit to make a lull in a golfer’s winning ways sound like a previously undiscovered asteroid that will hit the earth tomorrow at noon. I for one, am up to here with it, and intend to avoid falling for it ever again. What’s the matter with Tiger? What’s the matter with Phil ? And by far the most distasteful in my book, What’s the matter with Paula? Talk about “What have you done for me lately?”
I’ll admit to a little over-protective parentitis, but my wife and I have met Ms. Creamer, in action and off the course, and came away impressed. In fact, we met quite a few of the LPGA stars, and found them to be lovely, head- on-straight, not overly self-intoxicated people. This is surprising for a game requiring such privacy, concentration and obsession. Still, we felt even a little more that way about Paula Creamer after following her for an entire round, in which subtle behaviors revealed an undefinable generosity of spirit in the young champion. So we’re biased – sue us!
Creamer’s profile is all in the public record, but we’ll run through it again real fast, so no magazine writers will get the idea that she didn’t pan out. As an amateur (means “lover of the art,” not “doesn’t play well”), 11 American Junior Golf Assoc. tournament wins – two years after picking up the game, won 13 regional events in Northern California – winner on Curtis Cup. As a pro (“lover of the art that was so good, she makes money playing it”), won the Sybase Match Play, the Evian Masters, NEC Open in Japan, Masters GC Ladies, SBS Open, Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions, Jamie Farr Classic, Samsung World, Lexus cup in victory versus Asia, and oh yes, the U.S. Women’s Open, a major. She was Rookie of the Year, the youngest and fastest female player to reach a million in winnings, and an absolute beast at the Solheim matches.
And yet, in an interview directly following a victory in Hawaii, a media person reminds her that a golfing magazine has voted her Most Disappointing Player of the Year. Now that’s glass half empty journalism if I’ve ever seen it. To paraphrase Creamer, “you don’t just run out and whip up a few championships.” She is correct. They are not available at Wal-mart, and there are other great golfers out there that also want them – they’re in high demand.
It must be noted that Creamer spent her first years in the middle of an Ochoa/Sorenstam sandwich. That’s pretty hefty competition, against which she did quite well. Further, she hasn’t been the luckiest player in terms of illnesses and injuries. In ’06, it was issues with feet and wrists, two of the last areas a golfer would want to have trouble with. In ’08, she was hospitalized for what was thought to peritonitis. Whatever it was, it was a condition that lasted into the next season. She probably suffered food poisoning at the ’09 HSBC, but continued to play, saying “…they’d have to carry me out on a stretcher before I’ll leave a tournament.” In 2010, she had thumb surgery, which revealed deeper tears than thought, forcing her into a lengthy absence. Paula must have grown tired of waiting, and decided to win the U.S. Women’s Open anyway, despite much pain in the thumbs.
At the grand old age of twenty five, we don’t see Paula Creamer moping very much. She takes it a week at a time, maintains an inner calm and waits for the spotlights to go on again – and they almost certainly will. As they will with all the big names, the media will make money raving about one week’s riches and another week’s rags. The media always needs feeding, but don’t let them fool you. Tiger will be fine – Phil will be fine – and as for What’s the matter with Paula Creamer? Not a thing, thank you very much. Not a single, solitary thing.