Paula Creamer’s first trip to The Olympic Club came in 1998 when she attended the final round of the U.S. Open with her parents. An 11-year-old Creamer wound up getting an oversized golf umbrella – almost as big as she was – with an American flag on it. It remained a treasured item for decades.
Now, as the best women in the world get set to compete at Olympic for the first time, Creamer, the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champion, will once again be among them.
The USGA announced on Monday that Creamer, a 10-time winner on the LPGA has received a special exemption into the 76th U.S. Women’s Open, conducted June 3-6 in San Francisco. Creamer, 34, grew up in Pleasanton, California, less than 50 miles from the historic venue. She’s had five top-10 finishes and 11 top-20 finishes in her 17 USWO career starts, including a victory at Oakmont.
“It’s home,” said Creamer of her return to the Bay Area. “It’ll always be home. No matter where I’ve lived longer or not, whenever I’m announced on the first tee, it’s always Pleasanton, California. Anytime I represent the United States, my flag is always California. I’m a Cali girl, and you can’t take that away from me just because I live here in Orlando now. But I’m excited.”
Creamer, who hasn’t competed on the LPGA since October of 2019, had a 10-year exemption into the Women’s Open that expired last year. She’ll make her first LPGA start at the Pure Silk Championship at Kingsmill later this month.
For the first time in years, Creamer said, she doesn’t feel pain in her wrists and hands when she’s out practicing.
“You know, in 2017 after that surgery, I just came back too soon, and I felt OK but I just, I pushed it too hard,” said Creamer, “and that was a mistake that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. Looking at it on my career, it wasn’t the best of moves that I did. But I’m a fighter, I’m a grinder, and I didn’t want to sit out.
“When this happened, I just really had to sit there and kind of sit on my hands and tell me, OK, we’re not going, we’re not doing this this time.”
Creamer, who also plans to compete the following week at nearby Lake Merced, is back working with her longtime instructor David Whelan. With her wrists feeling good, she’s able to generate more clubhead speed and is unafraid to go after the ball.
“We had to work a lot on my grip,” said Creamer. “I’ve always had a tough time with my right hand being more on top because my left hand doesn’t sit as well on the club because of my thumb surgery. It’s so stiff. I have so much scar tissue that it’s tough to be able to put my right hand on top.”
Creamer now lives 10 yards from the driving range at Isleworth and said there are days when she’s working on her game from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., taking breaks when her body dictates it and loving every minute of it.
When asked if there was a time that she thought she might not return to the LPGA, Creamer said it was always a matter of when, not if.
“Honestly even when I wasn’t playing I was always thinking about it,” said Creamer, “I was always, should I go hit balls tomorrow, should I do this, constantly doing that.
“But I’m thankful for it because every time I step out the door and put my golf shoes on, I enjoy it. I really am loving what I do right now.”