After one 6-foot putt, Paula Creamer dropped her club, brought her hands to her face – taped-up left thumb and all – and burst into happy tears. That 2010 U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont Country Club was the culmination of years of dogged determination and practice, a process that ended with Creamer adding her name to the fabled roll of USGA champions.
Since that week in Pennsylvania, Creamer has notched one more victory and continually struggled with injuries to her left hand and wrist. In October 2019, she set aside her clubs for nearly a year, using the unexpected COVID-19 shutdown in 2020 to fully rehab. And perhaps more importantly, regain her love for the game.
“Going through injuries and all of that, it's tough, and you never know if you're going to be able to play again the same,” said Creamer, who rejoined the LPGA Tour two weeks ago at the Pure Silk Championship. “I feel the best I've felt in probably six years, quite truthfully, and that's saying a lot. It's nice to actually be able to come out and play a golf course and not have to hurry home and ice and do rehab and all of this to my body. I can actually go practice again if I want.”
The U.S. Women’s Open has historically been kind to Creamer. From 2004 to 2016, she only finished outside the top 20 twice, including her win in 2010 and a tie for fourth in 2013 at Sebonack Golf Club on Long Island. While she arrived this year on a streak of three consecutive USWO missed cuts, the last time she made the cut was the last time the championship was held in California – 2016 at CordeValle, just south of San Jose.
This week at Olympic is a homecoming for Creamer, who grew up in the San Francisco suburbs before moving to Florida to pursue her golf career. With her heart at home in NorCal this week, The Pink Panther – always a fan favorite – is excited to get back inside the ropes at the event that is so near to her heart.
“Venue is everything. I believe that. Winning at Oakmont … I mean, you couldn't ask for a better place,” said Creamer. “Obviously, being from the Bay Area, having my name on the trophy here would be just as special, but I think, at the same time, if your name's on the trophy where the U.S. Open's at, you'll take it.”