Changes in latitude, changes in attitude
Creamer implements swing changes, new approach to game
BY NEAL REID
To say that everything has changed for Paula Creamer in recent years would be an understatement.
Initially injuring her left thumb in 2009, Creamer accelerated the injury’s severity by re-injuring it in her first tournament in 2010 in Thailand. After trying to play through the pain for a short time, Creamer bit the bullet and underwent surgery on March 30.
Uncertainty filled her mind, which raced with possibilities and questions. Creamer was afraid she might never play again and also worried that the injury would linger and continue to torment her for years.
Yet just four weeks after the surgery, Creamer broke through with the first major championship of her illustrious career – the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club. It was a much-publicized triumph that made headlines in The New York Times and USA Today, among other major national media outlets.
Because of the injury and subsequent surgery, Creamer has been forced to change her swing in order to take pressure off the surgically repaired digit.
“I’ve been trying to change my golf swing and work around my thumb,” she said. “It’s been tough and difficult, but I think I’m starting to figure it out now. It’s just been a lot of backswing issues and setting the club faster. I’m pretty flat with my swing, so it’s a matter of getting it a little steeper.
“Whenever you have surgery, it’s not like it’s just fixed. I’m going to have to deal with not having as much motion as I once had, but having all that motion is also what hurt me. I know I’ll always have to break down my golf swing and get it to where it’s easier to replicate each time. The hardest thing is taking it from the range to the course.”
The injury has also changed Creamer’s approach to the game, both mentally and physically.
“I’ve changed a lot with how I am on the golf course,” she said. “Looking back at tapes when I had a cast on my hand, I was thinking about how I got in my own way so many times. I’m 25 now, and you’ve got to learn, especially with the goals I want to achieve. Sometimes, you’ve got to tell yourself the hardest things and get over it, in a sense. It is an injury, and it is tough. But I have what I have, and I can’t change it.”
The time away from the course made Creamer appreciate playing golf for a living even more.
“Last year, I didn’t know what to expect during the year,” Creamer said. “It could have been a lot worse, that’s for sure. I love the game, and when something’s taken away from you, you realize how much you do love it.”
With the swing changes implemented, Creamer is confident in her abilities and raring to go.
“I feel really good, and the last couple months have been great,” she said. “I’m starting to get my swing where I want it to be and am rolling the putter really well.”
Creamer intends to keep building on her success, and she has lofty goals for the future.
“I’ve always said I wanted to be the No. 1 player in the world, and I’d love to be the No. 1 American,” Creamer said. “That’s just a goal I’ve always had, and I think that’s an attainable goal. Just to be consistent is huge, being in contention and always having a chance on Sunday. It’s tough to do, but those are goals I have.”
Considering what Creamer’s overcome and accomplished recently, it would be unwise to bet against her.