Thank you, Paula Creamer! I admit that lately my “Fairway and Forehands” blog had been heavy on the Forehands (tennis) and light on the Fairways (LPGA golf). Heck, my post about UFC 170 and Ronda Rousey was bigger than anything I’ve done about the LPGA recently. I like everybody on tour, but with some of my top favorites either struggling, playing limited schedules or retiring I needed something to wake me from my LPGA doldrums. Boy, did Paula Creamer ever deliver! With a 75-foot eagle putt on the second hole of a playoff at the 2014 HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore, the Pink Panther sunk a career-defining shot that reverberated beyond the insular world of women’s golf, grabbing the attention of mainstream sports outlets worldwide.
The Pink Panther had played well in 2013, but just couldn’t seem to break through for a victory. In fact, she had been kept out of the winner’s circle since her 2010 US Women’s Open triumph. Following that win at Oakmont, Paula had 4 runners-up and 6 3rd place finishes over the last 3 and half years. One of the most popular players on tour, if not the most popular, it seemed like fans and commentators alike were almost trying to will Creamer to her 10th career LPGA victory. It now seems almost fitting that her double digit LPGA win came in such spectacular fashion. Paula had fallen back a bit from the top of the women’s golf mountain. She was still among the best players in the world but not fighting for #1 like Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen. Could this be the moment that propels the Pink Panther back into the race for #1? We shall see.
Unfortunately, if the winds of fortune blew in Paula’s direction, it means they swept away the hopes of other players. Karrie Webb had this tournament in her hands to win or lose. On 13, she stood over a birdie putt attempt that might have sown doubt and dejection into her pursuers had it fallen for a 4 shot lead. Instead, not only did she not make the birdie putt but also missed the short comeback par attempt as it circled the lip of the cup and spun out. That bogey on 13 was the beginning of the end. She would go on to bogey 15 and 18, inploding down the stretch. It was difficult to watch such a legend of the game go off the rails when it counted most. But not only could Karrie have prevented Paula from winning, Spain’s Azahara Munoz had a birdie putt on 18 that could have claimed victory. Instead, she would miss and taste defeat on the second playoff hole.
Maybe in the end it was meant to be. Paula had been showing up in media videos a lot lately. Given her vast popularity that’s not completely unusual. But perhaps there was something in the ether that was brewing for Paula. For one day at least, with one shot, she put LPGA golf on the mainstream sports map. For sure, she reawakened my passion for the tour. Here are a few of her recent media videos.
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