A veteran at 22, Creamer hasn't stopped learning


POSTED: Thursday, February 12, 2009

Confidence was an even bigger theme than usual on the eve of the LPGA's new season.

It's always huge in golf, where one little mishap often creates doubt and then an avalanche of misfortune. Sort of like the stock market, except with the red numbers turning black instead of vice versa.

Fearlessness, though, ruled the day at Turtle Bay, where the SBS Open gets underway today.

The news of the day set the tone, the Golf Channel announcing a 10-year deal with the LPGA for exclusive cable rights.

There's an unprecedented rights fee. It can't be very much, though, since it's not announced. But anything's better than nothing, especially these days.

Don't tell that to Paula Creamer, however. She's never had to settle for crumbs since turning pro in 2005. She's won twice in Hawaii, and plans to again.

She admits she “;has a lot of confidence.”;

Then Creamer announces she bought a house in the offseason. You wonder if she's lost her mind, then you remember she's one of the more well-off 22-year-olds on the planet. She can handle it if her mortgage drifts off to the deep end of the pool for a spell.

Creamer's always carried herself beyond her years, and now seems even older with a high-profile and talented class of LPGA tour rookies - including Michelle Wie - jumping into the fray today.

Grizzled Paula Creamer?

“;I know. It's hard to believe, I'm 22 and I'm considered a veteran. I don't know how old you really have to be or how many years declares you to be a veteran. It's hard for me to say I'm a veteran right now. ... I don't view myself as that at all.”;

She's still learning, she says. And when you stop learning, that's when you're in trouble.

But, again, the confidence: Creamer's throaty chuckle shouts “;bring it”; when asked if she can beat the massed Korean pros in this tourney. Then she answers diplomatically, all the right words. Polished, but pugnacious. Don't let her favorite color of pink fool you, she's tough.

Which brings us to Morgan Pressel, who always had the street-fighter attitude, too, but more emotional than Creamer. She's no kid anymore, either.

Pressel brims with confidence, too, with last October's win at the inaugural Kapalua Classic, which she hosts.

As for Wie, the hometown girl's accumulated plenty of battle scars while blazing a trail that's often led to brick walls ... as a teenager.

It's unlikely she'll ever admit it, but this probably wasn't the best route to the tour. So far it parallels that of the pitcher David Clyde, a schoolboy phenom who was rushed to the majors, endured arm trouble, lost his mojo and was never the same again.

By no means is Wie doomed to such a fate. She's always been resilient.

“;You know I'm pretty confident,”; she says.

“;I feel a little bit of nerves, but I do feel a huge dose of excitement.”;


Reach Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)