DANA GORDON: I'd like to welcome everyone to today's RICOH Women's British Open teleconference with Paula Creamer. It will be played July 30th through August 2nd at the Royal Lytham and St. Anne's Golf Club. South Korea's Jiyai Shin is the defending champion and Jiyai Shin is currently No. 1 on the Money List. The tournament is coming up in two weeks.
To welcome Paula, she joined the LPGA in 2005 and is the winner of eight LPGA titles. She's currently ranked No. 5 in the Rolex World Rankings, and Paula's best finish at the RICOH Women's British Open was a tie for seventh at the 2007 event at St. Andrews.
Paula, we are two weeks away from this year's RICOH Women's British Open. If you could start by telling us how you feel you're preparing for the final major championship of the season.
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I'm looking really forward to going to this event. I've played this golf course before. I feel good about it. I've been working hard on my game, being able to actually get back into playing golf now, with my thumb injury. But it's nice to be able to have a week off, play in the Evian, being able to go to the Open rested and ready to go.
DANA GORDON: If you could tell us a bit more about your thumb, if you're feeling good, your health overall.
PAULA CREAMER: I'm feeling much better. My thumb is just something that I guess I'm going to have to kind of deal with over time. But it feels a lot better. Four days at the Open, it was no pain, just a lot of ice. Rest is the most important thing for it. But at the same time I still need to practice and work on things for the rest of the season.
DANA GORDON: This year the RICOH Women's British Open has gone green with the GIFT initiative, GIFT stands for Green Initiatives For Tomorrow, an initiative hosted by the championship on the championship website, and it encourages people to make changes in their everyday lives to reduce their carbon footprints. Paula, you are the RICOH global ambassador and are involved with this program. RICOH has pledged to plant a tree for every 10 visitors that take part in the initiative on the website, plus everyone who participates on the website will enter a drawing where the winner will plant a tree at Royal Lytham together with you.
If you wouldn't mind talking about this program and what it means to be involved.
PAULA CREAMER: No, I think it's great that RICOH is doing this. It's wonderful that I joined the RICOH team, first of all. I'm excited to be an ambassador for them. They're a wonderful company, especially showing what they're going to be able to do on Wednesday just shows how great they truly are. Like I said, I'm going to be excited planting the tree. I've never really done anything like this before. It's wonderful to be a part of. I think it's a great initiative for a lot of companies to start doing and looking at.
DANA GORDON: How do you prepare differently each time you play the RICOH Women's British Open?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, it's a totally different type of golf. You definitely have to be able to hit different golf shots than what we do over here in the States. Definitely the wind is a huge factor over there. The balls run out a lot. Basically you kind of have to work on everything.
But I think the biggest difference is the type of grass that's over there. It's much tighter. You have to be able to hit your iron shots very precise over there. Your misses can't be like they are over here in the States just because of the conditions. But the golf course is a great test of golf. There's some really good holes out there that you just have to take your pars. I've been working on controlling my ball flight because of the wind.
DANA GORDON: We'll now open it up to questions.
Q. I played the course yesterday. You mentioned the wind. There are also 203 bunkers on the course and the rough is pretty fierce. How different is it to your week in, week out courses that you play on the U.S. tour coming over here, and what challenges does that present?
PAULA CREAMER: Just like what you said. I mean, we don't play golf courses with that many bunkers. However, I felt like I was living in the sand last week at the Open. I think I've had my fair share of practice for bunkers.
Most of the time when you get those golf courses over in England, whatnot, Europe, you have to be very accurate off the tee. If you find a bunker in the fairway, there's no other choice. You have to just try to kind of hit it out and save your par. However, being accurate off the tee, you need to be pretty long so you can be able to hit wedge, low irons into greens.
Q. Last week I did a story on Mariko Tumangan, a 15-year-old here in San Jose. She got to play a practice round with you before the Open.
PAULA CREAMER: Who did you say?
Q. Mariko Tumangan. I was wondering if you could give me your impressions of her specifically. And generally there are 25 girls out there in their teens playing at the U.S. Open, what it's like to have that much of an infusion at a major championship of young talent.
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, it was nice playing a practice round with her. She's a very nice girl. Has a lot of talent. I think everybody has seen that women's golf is getting younger and younger. There are more teenagers out there. There were a lot of amateurs that were in the field. I think, what was it, 30 odd. It just shows there's so many opportunities for girls golf right now to getting involved. I think it's pretty neat that women's golf is going that way.
However, it is the U.S. Open. I mean, I don't remember ever playing in the U.S. Open when I was 14, 15. I know I played with Cindy Feng, also, who is the youngest one at the Open. I was just really getting into golf, and here she is playing in the U.S. Open. I think it's quite a big step for women's golf, though.
Q. Obviously it's a bit different for you coming over to the northwest. You travel widely across the world. This being a major tournament, how is the week going to play out for you? Are you going to hire a house? Are you going to get a chance to have a look around the local area?
PAULA CREAMER: No, I will rent a house out that week. I always like to sightsee and try and do as much as I can. It is a very busy week. You want to get your rest, things like that. But at the same time it's a pretty cool area. I had a lot of fun last time I went there, so I'm looking forward to going back, kind of just revisiting new things.
Q. Which players do you think will be up there competing at the Open?
PAULA CREAMER: Which players?
PAULA CREAMER: That's the greatest thing about the British Open, you know, you just never know. Conditions suit different people's games over there. If it's firm and fast or if it's very windy and raining, it's a totally different game. I don't think you can just say one person. It really depends on what's going to happen and how the course plays.
DANA GORDON: Paula, about last year's RICOH Women's British Open, you tied for ninth. Is there one thing that stands out the most from last year's championship?
PAULA CREAMER: It was a great golf course. You know, I wish one of the days I would have played a little bit better to have been more in contention. But I had a great week. The golf course was wonderful. The people there were great. We played in different kinds of weather, that's for sure. I didn't hit the ball as well as I would have liked to last year, so I'm hoping going into this one I can really just give myself a chance to win.
I think it's kind of nice that we just got out of the Open so you're still I guess in that major mindset mode of being patient, and that's what the British Open is all about. Who knows what weather's gonna happen. You just have to be very patient with your bounces that you get, things like that on the golf course.
So for me, I just really want to go out and play four good days of golf and hopefully I can be right in contention.
Q. At the U.S. Open, I know you were asked about trying to win majors, that being a focus, not having won one yet. You went out and had a really good week at the Open. You had one round that was kind of higher. Was it just that one day? Is that all that's keeping you from breaking through and winning that first major? What is your take on that one rough round you had?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, yes, I mean, if you look back at the last two U.S. Opens specifically, I did have one day. This year was Saturday. Last year it was Sunday. It just wasn't my day.
I really feel, though, this Open was much different than last year's. Last year's I just felt like I got in my own way on Sunday. I put a little bit too much pressure on myself. My expectations obviously were to win on Sunday, but I kind of went astray from my game plan.
This year on Saturday, it was not my day. I can't tell you the last time I hit five greens in regulation, especially when you're leading the tour in greens in regulation. But that's just golf. I learned a lot from that.
I came back on Sunday with a great round of 2-under-par, gave myself a top 10, tied for sixth. That's something I'm proud of, that I could come back, be positive, and move up high on the leaderboard. That's just the thing, is just putting four good rounds of golf together. You can see the difference between this year's and last year's.
Going into the British, I'm going to be aware of being patient and scoring four good rounds of golf.
Q. Having that one round in there, obviously now you're moving forward, does that just frustrate you? Does it give you motivation? How do you spin that into something positive moving forward?
PAULA CREAMER: You know, I had that horrible day. I think I lost the Open by four. If you think about it that way, it's amazing how close I really am. It might not quite look that way at times, but I really do feel I'm getting closer and closer.
You know, majors are all about experience. Yeah, it's got to be your week. The time will come. I can tell you when I'm out there practicing, I'm working hard for those majors, but it's still the mindset of every week is a tournament.
Obviously the U.S. Open is going to be the hardest one because it's the hardest golf course, it's the hardest venue, the emotions, the pressure that you put on yourself, things like that, it's much different. That's just a learning process.
Q. Until a few years ago, the British Open wasn't a major on the women's tour. Now you're playing all the great golf courses that the men do. What has that been like to have the British Open rise in stature on your tour?
PAULA CREAMER: It's very important. I think it's great that women's golf, I guess you could say we're getting the respect to be able to play the golf courses. No one is ever going to say men's golf and women's golf is the same. We all know that. It's very different. But it's still a great challenge. The golf courses are wonderful.
The great thing for me is going over to places where the fans truly enjoy watching golf. I felt every time I've gone to the British Open or majors or whatnot, the fans just truly enjoy it. And that's what you want. You want to be able to play in front of people who respect golf, and that's what you get when you go to a British Open.
Q. What is the stature of the Women's British Open in the States? Players here, it's the big one. I was just going to ask you on that.
PAULA CREAMER: The women playing in the same venues as the men?
Q. I was speaking to a player earlier, and she said it was the biggest event of her year. Would you say that or would you say the U.S. Open is your biggest event?
PAULA CREAMER: We don't have one. You can't specifically say. Solheim Cup in my eyes is a very big event. But the British Open is just pure tradition. I think that's the neatest thing about being able to go over there. With the men and their titles, for us to have a British Open, I think was one of the best things in women's golf.
DANA GORDON: I think we've covered quite a bit, so we can wrap it up.
PAULA CREAMER: All right. Thank you.
DANA GORDON: Thank you for your time today, Paula.
PAULA CREAMER: No worries. Thank you very much.