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Woman Golf > Golf For Woman > Paula Creamer prowling for an Open victory
Paula Creamer prowling for an Open victory (1 Aug 2007)
The subjects guaranteed to get most newspaper ink in women's golf are pornography, marriage and divorce, and homosexuality - Ray Volpe, Ladies' Professional Golf Association commissioner speaking in 1982.

Then along came Laura Davies with her prodigious power off the tee, followed by Annika Sorenstam with her searing long irons and sublime touch around the greens, Karrie Webb from Australia, Lorena Ochoa from Mexico, Se Ri Pak from Korea, the rise and fall of Michelle Wie, the advent of the Solheim Cup; so when French-born Italian Sophie Sandolo bared her abundant charms in a nude calendar in 2005, did her strip for the camera attract more column inches than her second-place finish in the Catalonia Masters that year? Well, yes, it did actually, but despite signorina Sandolo's initiative, it is an undeniable fact that women golfers are now better known for their putting than their vital statistics.

If further proof is necessary, the female of the golfing species has been granted the equivalent of the Royal Seal of Approval by being invited to stage this week's Women's British Open over the Old Course at St Andrews, where they will even be permitted to use the R & A's clubhouse. "Harrumph," you can hear some old codger mutter into his gin, "I don't mind a few pretty waitresses dotted about the place, but a golf course is no place for a woman.

"Paula Creamer makes no effort to hide her femininity - hence the pink club grips, pink tees, pink driver shaft, pink head cover, pink spikes, pink shoes and pink ribbon knotted around her blonde ponytail (her nickname is 'The Pink Panther', surprise, surprise) - but she is every bit as committed to her sport as Sergio Garcia, say, her male counterpart at No 8 in their respective world rankings.

But unlike the Spaniard, who came within a millimetre or so of winning his first major at Carnoustie, Creamer hopes to celebrate her 21st birthday on Sunday by clutching the Open trophy at the side of golf's most famous 18th green. "That would be dreamy," she sighs. "St Andrews is just so beautiful. Growing up in Florida, I'd seen television pictures of the course and town and I've since heard that Arnold Palmer describes walking into the clubhouse as like entering a pyramid, which is a pretty cool analogy. Because of its history St Andrews is one of a kind, and that's what makes this week so exciting.

"Being the gracious lass that she is, Creamer displays nary a shred of resentment that despite her five tournament victories and starring role as a 19-year-old in the 2005 Solheim Cup, during which she thrashed la diva Davies 7 & 5 in the singles, it is the recent trials and tribulations of Wie - who has yet to win a single tournament - which have tended to dominate the headlines in recent months.

"If Michelle brings more interest then there will be bigger purses, and ultimately that's better for me," Creamer says. "But it was Annika who took women's golf on to a new level, which is why there are so many young, fresh, new faces now trying to take it on to the next level again. You have Lorena, Karrie, the Koreans, plus a whole heap of Americans. I think one of the main reasons why our sport is so fascinating right now is because there are so many different countries on the leaderboard.

"Creamer's route to St Andrews began when she was in sixth grade in San Francisco and had to make the decision - and a huge one it must have been for a 12-year-old - whether to become a cheerleader or join the school golf team. "Do you want to cheer for others, or do you want the others to cheer for you?" was the way her dad put it. Such was her youthful prowess that two years later her parents, Karen and Paul, took the decision to leave California to settle their family in Bradenton, Florida in order to enrol their daughter in the David Leadbetter Golf Centre at the IMG Academies.

"Fortunately, dad is a pilot with American Airlines, so he was able to transfer his base to Miami. I met all kinds of athletes passing through, from Venus and Serena Williams to Michael Johnson and Anna Kournikova. It was a great education. For instance, Michael Johnson told me that when he was training for the Olympics, he wouldn't train for the 400 metres. He'd run that bit further so he could run through the finish line. If I want to be the best golfer in the world, that's exactly what I'll have to do.

"When not cutting a swathe through the junior golf ranks, Creamer was like any other Britney-loving teenager. "Yes, OK, I confess, I did like Britney when I was younger. What's on my iPod right now? I like all kinds of music, so what I listen to depends on my mood. It ranges from country music to Justin Timberlake to P Diddy." Well, Paula, we are all allowed one embarrassing musical mistake, so I guess I can overlook Dolly Parton singing Jolene just this once. "I do not have Dolly Parton anywhere on my iPod. It's more new country, like Carrie Underwood."

By Robert Philip: Telegraph UK

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