7. Paula Creamer, Age: 24, Achievements: U.S. Open champion:
Paula Creamer was born on August 5, 1986. She is an American professional golfer on the U.S.-based LPGA Tour. As a professional, she has won 11 tournaments, including 9 LPGA Tour events. Creamer has been as high as number 2 in the Women’s World Golf Rankings. She was the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champion.
As an amateur, Creamer won numerous junior golf titles, including 11 American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) tournaments. Creamer joined the LPGA Tour in the 2005 season, and her victory in that year’s Sybase Classic made her the LPGA’s second-youngest event winner.
Creamer was born in Mountain View, California and raised in Pleasanton, the only child of an airline pilot father and stay-at-home mother. The family’s home overlooked the first tee of the Castlewood Country Club’s golf course. Creamer participated in acrobatic dancing and gymnastics during her childhood, and started playing golf when she was 10 years old. At the age of 12, she won 13 consecutive regional junior events in northern California,and the following year she became the top-ranked female junior golfer in the state.
During Creamer’s amateur career, she won 19 national tournaments, including 11 American Junior Golf Association events, and was named Player of the Year by the AJGA in 2003. On two occasions (2002 and 2003), Creamer played on the United States team in the Junior Solheim Cup. She was a semi-finalist in the 2003 U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur, and reached the same stage of both events the following year.In June 2004, Creamer placed second in the LPGA Tour’s ShopRite LPGA Classic, finishing one stroke behind Cristie Kerr. Later that year, she tied for 13th in the U.S. Women’s Open and represented the United States in the Curtis Cup.
In December 2004, Creamer won the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament by five strokes to secure membership on the Tour for the 2005 season. She opted to turn professional immediately after the event at the age of 18.
Upon joining the LPGA Tour in 2005, Creamer quickly became a top player. On May 22, she holed a 17-foot birdie putt on the final hole of the Sybase Classic in New Rochelle, New York to win by one stroke. Creamer became the youngest winner of a multiple-round tournament in LPGA history. (Marlene Hagge won twice at a younger age than Creamer. Both wins came in 18-hole events.)Her record lasted until 2011, when Lexi Thompson won the Navistar LPGA Classic at the age of 16. On July 23, she claimed her second title of the year, winning the Evian Masters tournament in France by an eight-shot margin. She became the youngest and quickest player to reach $1 million in LPGA career earnings. In August Creamer won the NEC Open on the Japan LPGA tour,and added a victory at the Masters GC Ladies tournament two months later.Creamer earned a spot on the U.S. Solheim Cup Team, becoming the youngest player to do so. She helped the U.S. team win the cup, going 3–1–1 for the competition. Creamer won the LPGA Rookie of the Year award for her season, in which she earned over $1.5 million, second on the money list behind Annika Sörenstam, and recorded eight top-three finishes.
After her strong first-year performance, Creamer was second behind Sörenstam in the inaugural Women’s World Golf Rankings, which were released on February 20, 2006. Her 2006 season, however, was not as successful. She did not win a tournament, and was hampered by wrist and foot injuries during the year. Creamer still managed to earn over $1 million and make the cut in all 27 LPGA tournaments in which she played, compiling 14 top-10 finishes. Her best result of the season was a tie for second at The Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions.
In 2007, Creamer rebounded with two LPGA Tour titles. On February 17, she won her third career LPGA title at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay, making a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole of the final round to defeat Julieta Granada by one shot. In November, Creamer won The Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions, defeating Birdie Kim by eight strokes. She also played in her second Solheim Cup, leading both sides in points earned. Creamer went unbeaten in five matches as the U.S. team retained the cup. For the season, she posted 13 top-10 finishes and earned over $1.3 million, third on the money list.
In the 2008 season, Creamer won a career-high four LPGA events and made more than $1.8 million, the highest amount she has earned in a season. In February 2008, she earned her fifth LPGA title at the Fields Open in Hawaii, coming back from a late two-shot deficit with birdies on the final three holes.On April 27, Creamer came up short in a bid for her second win of the year, losing in a sudden-death playoff to Sörenstam at the Stanford International Pro-Am. The following week, Creamer bounced back at the SemGroup Championship by defeating Juli Inkster in a playoff. At the U.S. Women’s Open, she entered the final round one shot off the lead and in good position to claim her first major championship victory. However, a five-over-par 78 on the last day dropped her into a tie for sixth. On July 10 at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, she shot an 11-under 60, just one stroke off of the LPGA Tour record of 59 by Annika Sörenstam. She shot 60–65–70–73 to beat Nicole Castrale by two strokes. Creamer’s fourth title of 2008 came in October’s Samsung World Championship, where she won by one stroke and became the first American with four or more wins in an LPGA Tour season since Inkster had five tournament victories in 1999. In November of that same year, Creamer teamed with team International to defeat team Asia for the Lexus Cup.
At the LPGA Playoffs at the ADT, the last event of the 2008 season, Creamer was hospitalized with a stomach ailment, which was originally thought to be peritonitis. The ailment continued to affect her in the opening few months of the 2009 season, with doctors unable to make an exact diagnosis. At the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open, held at Saucon Valley Country Club, Creamer finished tied for sixth. In her third Solheim Cup, she was 3–1 as the U.S. again won the competition. Creamer finished 10th on the 2009 LPGA money list with earnings of over $1.1 million. Her highest finishes during the season were a pair of second-place results, at the LPGA Corning Classic and Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
Creamer withdrew from the first event of the 2010 season with a left thumb injury, which she had first sustained in June 2009 at the Wegmans LPGA tournament. The injury, believed to be stretched ligaments, required surgery in March after rehabilitation efforts proved unsuccessful. During the surgery, more severe damage to her thumb was discovered, including ulnar collateral ligament and palmar plate tears. She was forced into an extended absence from golf, and her thumb was still healing by the time she returned in June. In her return event, the ShopRite LPGA Classic, Creamer finished in seventh place at 10-under-par.On July 11, 2010, in her fourth tournament after returning from her thumb surgery, Creamer won the U.S. Women’s Open. She was the only golfer under par for the tournament, with a score of 3-under-par, four strokes ahead of Suzann Pettersen and Na Yeon Choi. It was the first victory in a major in Creamer’s career. The U.S. Women’s Open was her only win of the season, but she had four top-10s in 14 starts.
Creamer did not win a tournament during the 2011 season, though she did have seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10 finishes. Her highest finishes of the year were a pair of ties for second, at the HSBC Women’s Champions and CME Group Titleholders. Creamer was again selected to the U.S. Solheim Cup team in 2011. She posted victories in three of her first four matches, but lost in the singles to Catriona Matthew by a 6&5 score, as the American team lost to Europe.
At the 2012 Kingsmill Championship, Creamer finished the tournament tied with Jiyai Shin, and the two entered a playoff. They played eight playoff holes, each parring every time. The playoff was then suspended because of darkness, and it resumed the following day. Creamer bogeyed the ninth playoff hole, losing to Shin’s par. It was the longest two-player playoff in LPGA Tour history. The following week, she recorded a third-place finish at the Women’s British Open. Creamer earned over $800,000 and had seven top-10 finishes in the 2012 season, but was again unable to win any events. As of the end of the 2012 season, Creamer is seventh on the all-time LPGA career money list with earnings of $9,594,379.
Achievements and Awards:
- -Solheim Cup (representing the United States): 2005 (winners), 2007 (winners), 2009 (winners), 2011
- -Lexus Cup (representing International team): 2005 (winners), 2006, 2008 (winners)
- -Women’s World Cup of Golf (representing the United States): 2006
- -American Junior Golf Association Player of the Year: 2003
- -Golfweek Junior of the Year: 2003
- -Golf Digest Junior of the Year: 2003
- -Golfweek Amateur of the Year: 2004
- -Golf Digest Amateur of the Year: 2004
- -American Junior Golf Association Nancy Lopez Award: 2005
- -LPGA Rookie of the Year: 2005.