SAN DIEGO (AP) Paula Creamer is sick of being sick, so it would make her feel pretty good if she can defend her title in the Samsung World Championship starting Thursday at Torrey Pines.
Creamer battled a mystery illness most of the year and is still looking for her first win of 2009. She said her energy levels are returning to normal and she's getting her distance back.
Still, she's a little bit wary. She got sick after going to Mexico in November for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Doctors did test after test and she was on medication.
"They still have no idea what was wrong with me, which is a scary thought knowing that it could come back," Creamer said.
She also had a thumb injury.
"This has been one of my hardest years, because it's something I can't really control. I can't make it better," she said. "There was nothing that I could do because we didn't know what was wrong. It was, 'How can I put a Band-Aid on this as soon as I can?' We took every precaution that I needed to, but not only that, but my thumb injury. I felt I was getting better, and something else popped up.
"I called it my year of building my character out here because it's been hard. I want to win. I want to be able to compete every week. Golf is hard enough as it is feeling good, feeling prepared. But when you're not feeling prepared, it was very difficult. But I'm glad that I'm going in the right direction."
She played well in the Solheim Cup in late August, helping the United States beat Europe.
"That was a big week for me, emotionally, to know I can still go out and compete and put pressure on people," she said.
When Creamer beat Song-Hee Kim by a stroke to win the elite 20-player Samsung World Championship last year, it was Half Moon Bay in Northern California.
To repeat as champion, she'll have to play well on the tough Torrey Pines South Course, the site of Tiger Woods' 2008 U.S. Open victory. The yardage for this tournament is 6,721.
"I'm excited to be here. Torrey Pines is a great golf course," she said. "Samsung is a wonderful event for us. We view it as one of our top tournaments, we view it as one of our best tournaments that we play in, as to the field. You can't get any better than that. That's what you want to go against, that's what you want to win against."
"It is exciting, it is different. I loved Half Moon Bay, but I'm going to have to love it more here."
No. 1 Ochoa tops the field along with Creamer and South Korea's Jiyai Shin, who won the NW Arkansas Championship last week for her tour-leading third victory of the year.
Also in the field are 2009 major winners Brittany Lincicome, Anna Nordqvist, Eun-Hee Ji and Catriona Matthew. Three-time winner Juli Inkster received an exemption.
This is the LPGA Tour's first stop in San Diego since 1993 and the first at Torrey Pines since the 1983 Inamori Classic.