Exclusive interview: Lady Golfer meets Paula CreamerJanuary, 2014 News & Tour
The Major champion on her swing changes and getting tongue-tied with Justin Timberlake
Arriving into St Andrews for the Women’s British Open the first face I saw was Paula Creamer’s.
The 27-year-old is THE face of the championship due to her ambassadorial role for the lead sponsor Ricoh, tallied with her good looks and ready smile.
Creamer has just finished her pre-tournament press conference, has posed and answered a bundle of questions for various camera crews from around the world and now we are due to sit down for a chat.
If I’m honest I’m slightly anxious. I have a bit of a soft spot for Creamer, the last hour has just been spent non-stop with the media and it’s the start of a Major the following day.
I needn’t have worried.
The last time you were at St Andrews in 2007 you were captured doing cartwheels down the 18th fairway – how much have you changed as a person since then?
I have for sure matured over the last six years. I love competing every week but there are also other things like my foundation and being a role model for girls which I never quite grasped when I was younger.
On the course I feel like I definitely know a lot more about how to play the game more, my golf has changed so much and I have gone through a lot out here and you have to grow up very fast.
That’s just a part of life and nothing can prepare you for growing up on tour and I have been lucky to have a great team around me who keep me humble and on the right path.
Where do you get your competitive streak from?
I love pressure and being nervous, and the chance of good things about to happen with the chance to win. I work very hard at what I do, some players have that natural ability to go out and get it done, I have always had to work on my swing and practise a lot.
Finding that pressure and inner drive, I love that and I get that from my dad. My mum is much more ‘it’s OK, good job’ and I am much more like him in that I hate to lose.
What do you like and dislike about your swing?
I have been able to do a lot more since I had surgery on my wrist and I have become more consistent and I have been able to use my muscles instead of my hands and repeat it more and more. All I’ve ever wanted is to have a swing that is repeatable whether it is windy or at the beginning or end of the year.
My coach, David Whelan, and I have worked a lot on my plane and not to be as steep. I am a good player because it is steep but I don’t hit it as far as I can because of that so I have had to manipulate that with the driver. Doing that on the course with all the pressure is tough, on a range you can do it any day but having to switch that mode is a little harder.
How much of that includes trying to find a few extra yards?
The technology these days with the TaylorMade R1 I has added probably 25 yards and physically my body is pretty much where it will be at. And my bones are done growing so I can get stronger and fitter. So I work on distance but I don’t emphasise all my efforts on it.
How important are Majors to you?
I want to win more, Majors to me are everything. I know they only happen four times a year, five now with the Evian, but when you look at the great players they all have a big number right next to their names.
I feel like I could have won so many more but, at the same time, I believe like everything happens for a reason and you learn from that. I would never have thought that I would have won at Oakmont, my confidence was there but I was just coming off surgery and I wasn’t 100 per cent prepared and I won it by four shots.
Things like that happen and I looked at that and have taken it into every Major since.
Do you have to lose a Major to win one – if so what would yours be?
Saucon Valley at the 2009 US Open was my biggest one that I thought I truly lost. It was on the Saturday where I had a 79 before going on to lose by four shots. But mentally it was a mistake that you can’t make and that has made me stick to game plans and strategies.
If you could have one Major Mulligan where would it be?
The drive at the 18th at Lytham in 2009. A lot of that was unlucky, the odds on it not coming down into that bunker, but I would love to have taken that drive back. Had I birdied the 18th I would have been done and my score would be on the leaderboard so who knows what would have happened.
If one of the Majors was a matchplay how likely would it be that you would have more than one Major?
I would love to say yes, I love matchplay. It is so exciting maybe because we don’t do it too often, I love one on one, it is you versus me, it doesn’t matter about the course. That is my mentality.
Who knows? Probably. You are a different person in matchplay.
Are you a big talker in matches?
I don’t talk much even in strokeplay, I just stick with my caddy Colin and we are just in a little bubble out there.
How often do you watch the recording of the US Open win at Oakmont?
I watch myself a lot more than people think and I watch it for different reasons; how I walked, how I carried myself.
I watch my eyes to see how focused I was and where I was able to relax a little bit in between shots.
I watch it a couple of times a month and I don’t think people would realise that. I never read anything about myself but I ask for a couple of videos here and there.
You never read any papers?
I try not to, obviously I have been very lucky in that I have had many more positive stories than negative. It is important to read both but the video of Oakmont and other Majors seeing how you move under pressure is very important.
If you’re doing something fancy then you’re going to make sure every little hair is in its place. You’ve got some hair, I’m sure it takes you 30 minutes to get ready too? You are the face of so many tournaments throughout the year, do you ever get fed up with all the interviews?
In a sense I don’t know any different, I was lucky that I came out strong at the beginning of my career and I have maintained it. I haven’t won for a while but I have been up there a lot and timing is everything and you take a lot from that.
The interviews and photo shoots are the fun stuff, that’s where you can get away from just hitting a little ball in a hole and I can show a different side to who I am.
Have you played Augusta?
I have played there twice, two weeks after the Masters in 2011 and before coming to St Andrews in 2007. They were my favourite golf trips and I don’t take many golf trips. They were incredible.
Is it the best-looking course you have ever played?
It is pretty beautiful, when you are driving down the street you are not expecting that. The grass is perfect and the bunkers, greens, flowers, trees and scoreboards are pristine and beautiful.
One of my favourite courses would be Cherry Hills where we had the 2005 US Open, that was the most pristine place I had been to but going to Augusta was just a whole new experience.
What did you score at Augusta last time?
A 74 on the first day and level par the next day, both playing off the members’ tees.
What do you think of single-sex clubs being Open venues?
There are so many courses that you don’t need to focus on those courses. Everybody has a choice, lots of clubs are men-only, but I think there are bigger gender issues than that.
Have you ever been star-struck?
I get so nervous around other athletes or personalities. I met Justin Timberlake in St Andrews and I was so nervous. We kind of heard that he was here and we were coming down the 12th, so he was on the 6th, and I was looking at him thinking ‘that’s him’. I thought I really want to take a picture and my manager was trying to get me to move on but I went over and said ‘I am so sorry to bother you but can I please have a picture of you?’
And he said ‘I am such a big fan of yours’ and my jaw hit the ground. It is sitting in my gym, that was one of the first times I didn’t know what to say.
Who do you follow fashion wise?
I love shoes and would love to design women’s shoes. Everyone is so different so I would stick to golf shoes. I have got a lot of shoes.
I love just being unique, I think clothing and fashion is so much about your personality and who you are. I am so lucky that Adidas are so athletic and feminine and that goes with who I am.
When you feel good, you play better, you walk better, your shoulders are back, and you have a good presence about yourself.
I have had a taste in helping with a girls’ line for Adidas where they picked my brain which was so much fun.
How long does it take you to get ready for a night out?
I am pretty good, quicker than you would think. For a big night out, like a long dress at a gala, maybe an hour.
If I’m just going for a fun dinner with the girls maybe half an hour. That’s pretty good for a girl who loves fashion and make-up and hair.
If you’re doing something fancy then you’re going to make sure every little hair is in its place. You’ve got some hair, I’m sure it takes you 30 minutes to get ready too?
I’ve been getting ready all morning for this. Moving on from my hair, what is your perfect day off?
I’m not a big sleeper so I would try to sleep in. I would get my nails done and I love working out so I would go and see my trainer and then I would go and have a great dinner with friends.
I’m such a girl.
Do you socialise much with golfers?
My golfing friends are mainly in Jupiter and I live in Orlando so not really. Being at home with my dog Studley and cooking at home is a great way to get away from the game.