THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we have Paula Creamer here, Ricoh ambassador, recently won the U.S. Open at Oakmont. Congratulations on that. It’s also possibly worth remembering that Paula made her debut in this championship here back in 2005 when she finished tied 15th. Do you have any memories of that?
PAULA CREAMER: Of course. I liked this golf course so much from the first moment I stepped foot on Royal Birkdale, and to come back five years later or six years later this is my sixth year, gosh, time is flying by. But I enjoy this golf course, I enjoy links golf. I always have. It’s a nice change to come and put your five layers on and play in your rain gear. It makes golf a little bit more interesting. But I am excited for the tournament to start tomorrow. I feel really good.
I know the golf course pretty well. It’s playing much different this year than what it was back in ’05, but that’s the neat thing about the game of golf; it’s always changing.
Q. What is it that’s different this time? Is it wetter?
PAULA CREAMER: It’s definitely much longer. It’s firm and fast, but nothing like what it was when we were here. We hit a lot more shorter clubs. The wind is just constantly there, whereas in the past it wasn’t as strong. It’s a little bit colder. I remember I had my knee high socks on here in ’05, and I’m not sure if they’re going to be coming out. It’s a little bit chilly.
Q. Does it make any difference to you coming in here as a major champion?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I think for my expectation and my confidence and things like that, yeah, there’s a huge difference. I know what it takes to win a major and I’ve been wanting to do that for a very long time, and now I know what it takes. To come into this event, I feel very confident. I know what I need to do. I have the ideas of the golf course that I want to go about and play, and we’ll just see if it happens for those four days.
Q. Any reaction with the thumb this week?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, last week was very difficult. It was very wet and a lot of wedges and a lot of really, really big divots, and my hands and my thumb at the end of the week were just exhausted. And on Monday I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to practice or not. But I haven’t hit a knock down shot since my surgery. I’ve been kind of saving it as long as I could before I would get here. It’s not too bad. I actually prefer the firmer grounds. It helps a little bit more. It kind of bounces into it. It’s not hitting straight down into the ground and taking these big divots.
But it feels okay. It has its moments. I still don’t practice after a round, just putting. But I can the turf on the range is great, and that’s a good thing for me. That’s the first thing I look at is what kind of range do we have this week, and the turf is great, so it’s nice. It helps me.
Q. When you were injured, was there ever a stage when you worried that you might not be able to get back to the state that you’d been in before, the quality of golf and so on?
PAULA CREAMER: Without a doubt. I thought about it 24 hours of the day. Still, there’s a lot of things that I can’t do that I used to do. But I’m a lot better at things that I wasn’t before that I am now. It was I said it so many times, it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do was sit at home and watch other people play golf and not know am I going to be the same player that I was before, am I going to be able to get out there and compete.
Whenever you have surgery, you don’t necessarily know, and I think that was just the unknowing, the uncertainty of everything was just kind of a black cloud lingering around, and then I got a club in my hand, and it’s not quite like riding a bike, but you still know your fundamentals and things, the beginning of golf, your posture, and I worked on that, and I worked on that throughout my therapy just constantly reminding myself of golf and being around it.
Q. You said that you were better at some things now than you were before the injury. What would they include?
PAULA CREAMER: I would say just my mental game, how I look at tournaments, how I behave on the golf course, my demeanor out there. There’s things that you can you don’t necessarily have to be hitting golf balls to get better. The way I visualise things, I’ve worked really hard on mentally preparing, and I think that definitely has changed.
Q. Was there an aspect of your game which you improved in order to win your first major?
PAULA CREAMER: I would say I learned how to play a golf course, a major golf course better. I think everything happens for a reason, and all of these past majors where I’ve come so close, the British last year and I doubled the last hole, I still remember these things. I look at why, what happened, how did I do this and how can I make it better, and I feel that I’ve learnt my lessons from the past and I’ve tried not to get in my own way, and I think in the past I have. Not necessarily golf shots that I’m better at or five , six footers that I’m better at making; it’s just how I look at a hole and either moving on with a par or making a bogey and trying to get a birdie on the next one. So more of a mental change than my actual physical hitting the golf ball.
Q. Because you were well known at a young age coming over here for the Curtis Cup, did that put extra expectation on you to become a major champion?
PAULA CREAMER: The Curtis Cup?
Q. Just because you were so well known at a young age.
PAULA CREAMER: Well, the path that I went about, I wanted to play in all the team events. Curtis Cup, I played at Formby, and I actually went there yesterday and I did a First Tee clinic and I got to see the golf course. It just brings back so many memories. When you have an amateur career or junior career and you learn how to win under certain circumstances, LPGA, professional, the highest majors, those are the ones that you want to win. And when you get that taste of holding the trophy at a young age, you want to keep it going as long as you can, and to win a major was something that I always was looking at, and hopefully we can have many more.
Q. It must give you tremendous confidence having just won a major to go into this one.
PAULA CREAMER: It is nice that they are somewhat close to each other. We don’t normally get that opportunity. And actually Wegmans was just before the Open, so it’s been grouped together, some really big tournaments. That kind of helps you mentally prepare for each week.
Q. Having won your national Open, which would be your next choice of major to win?
PAULA CREAMER: They’re all important, but since we’re here right now, the Ricoh Women’s British Open, definitely.
Q. After the bogey on 12 at Oakmont, you then hit four really great iron shots. Was that a conscious thing in your mind, saying, I’m not going to let this get away from me?
PAULA CREAMER: Yes, of course. 12, the whole week, 12 and I, we did not like each other. I bogeyed it three of the days and I birdied it one day. I didn’t have one par. I just knew after I got through that hole, we were clear sailing. I had some I had a 6 iron on that par 3 and then a wedge and an 8 iron, so I knew I had some and then the 5 wood on 16. I knew I had some short irons that I could get my confidence back up and hit some good shots.
But I wasn’t going to let that one get away from me. I prepared so hard for that for those last couple of months. It’s all I thought about. And it wasn’t going to I was going to win that tournament. I told myself, I’m not going to let it slide.
Q. How much did Interlachen help you at Oakmont?
PAULA CREAMER: Like I said, I feel that I learnt so much from that tournament, from Interlachen, Saucon Valley, both of those, last year, Lytham, I’ve always had something happen, and I would get in the way of myself and I would take myself out of the tournament.
I’ve learnt, I don’t know if it’s just maturity or if it’s just I finally saw the light of the fact that it’s a lot of golf, they’re hard golf courses, but I really feel that the fact that at Interlachen I got to play in the last group on Sunday that year, that helped a lot. Those are things that you have to take experience from and learn from it.
Q. What’s been the nicest thing that’s happened to you since your victory, and of all the letters and messages of congratulations that you’ve had, are there one or two you can share with us?
PAULA CREAMER: I think the nicest thing is I don’t have to sit here and get asked, when are you going to win a major. That’s kind of nice. Arnold Palmer wrote me a really nice letter, and I thought that was just very classy. My house smells fantastic right now with all of these beautiful flowers that I got from all of my sponsors and my friends. That was really exciting.
But I think the day that the trophy came was very special. I just looked at it and saw it there and stared at it for a while. I didn’t even want to touch it. I was like, I can’t believe this happened.
The letter from Mr. Palmer was really neat. That was nice.
Q. Going back to the Curtis Cup, you played on a very, very strong American team in 2004, which America won, and indeed you’ve won every match since. I was wondering if you have any thoughts on whether it’s time for the GB & I team to extend it to the rest of Europe to make it a more competitive match.
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I’m always a very traditional person. I think we’ve had so much the history involved in the Curtis Cup and all of that, and to keep it going. Why not? I guess we’re going to have to find some more players out there, and I think that’s the neat thing about women’s golf right now is it is becoming younger and younger and more girls are getting an opportunity to play, and who knows who will happen in the next couple of years.
Obviously I’m a little bit biased toward the American team, but I don’t like changing things. I think that they’re there for a reason. It’s history. You look at women’s golf, Curtis Cup is a big part of women’s golf, and to me, to change something like that, I don’t know, I wouldn’t really like that myself. But if they have to do it and it’s necessary, then I guess.
Q. Did it feel like a fair contest in 2004 if you can remember back, or was it a match that your team should have won every time?
PAULA CREAMER: I think every time you have team events you both start on the first tee, and there you go. You play your best golf. I feel I play my best golf when I represent my country. I can only speak for myself and how I feel, but you’re playing I’m playing you, you’re playing me, you’re not playing the golf course. Somebody could go out and shoot 60 and you could lose. Somebody could shoot 80 and there’s so many things that happen in match play, and that’s the greatest part about it, it’s just me versus you, and you’ve got to go take care of your point and see what happens.
Q. How do you perceive the state of European golf in your second week here versus the time over your career?
PAULA CREAMER: European golf, you can see on the men’s tour, it’s a big influence. They’re having a huge impact on it. I’m sure what’s going to be coming around for us, as well. There’s been some great European players. Melissa Reid had a great week last week. I know she probably didn’t finish the way she wanted to after that start, but still, I think they’re making a prominent appearance in there.