SOUTHPORT, England (AP) After struggling for years to win a major, Paula Creamer is aiming to make it two in a row at the Women's British Open, which starts Thursday at Royal Birkdale.
Creamer shed the title of being the best women's golfer to not win a major with her U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont this month. Now she hopes the momentum will put her right back on top of the leaderboard at Birkdale.
"I know now what it takes to win a major and I've been waiting to do that for a very long time," Creamer said. "I feel very confident coming into this event and I know what I need to do."
Creamer played her first Women's British Open when it was last held at Birkdale in 2005, finishing 15th. That tournament was plagued by some miserable weather, and Creamer said she won't mind more of the same this time.
"I enjoy links golf, I always have," she said. "It's a nice change to come out, put your five layers on and play in your rain gear. It makes golf a little bit more interesting."
Defending champion Catriona Matthew had a disappointing Evian Masters last week in France, but finished with an encouraging 5-under 67 in the final round to climb into a tie for 23rd.
The 40-year-old Scot, who claimed her first major championship in an emotional victory at Royal Lytham last year just 11 weeks after giving her birth to her second daughter Sophie, said she was happy with her practice round at Birkdale as well.
"I played well out there today and I had a good last round in the Evian on Sunday," Matthew said. "My new coach Kevin Craggs feels I'm playing really well, so hopefully I can bring that form into the tournament."
Top-ranked Jiyai Shin of South Korea won the Evian Masters, and is looking for her second British Open title after winning at Sunningdale two years ago.
"I'm really excited because the course is great," Shin said. "I have a good strategy for links golf so I can't wait for the tournament to start. My confidence is high after last week, but I also need to forget last week and focus on this."
Laura Davies is making her 30th consecutive start in the tournament, and won here in 1986. Unlike Matthew, however, she had no plans of playing a practice round.
"I played in the Pro-Am on Tuesday, which I always enjoy, but I never play a practice round," Davies said. "This is my 26th year on tour so it's 25 and a half years since I had a practice round. Watching people chip and putt from every angle on the green for five or six hours is not my idea of fun."
But even after all those years, Davies still has a childlike enthusiasm for the game.
"I can't wait for tomorrow morning," she said. "There's always something to look forward to and I still want to win every time I tee up."