After I read Alan Shipnuck's comments about Paula Creamer doing a drill before hitting a tee shot in the final round of the U.S. Women's Open, I called Dr. Dick Coop. A sports psychologist who has worked with Corey Pavin, Justin Leonard, Ben Crenshaw, Nick Faldo and the late Payne Stewart, Coop knows a little about what goes through a player's head when he or she is on the verge of winning a major.
"To me, if it needs to be done it's not a good sign," said Coop. "But if it needs to be done it needs to be done."
If this simple drill were performed before every tee shot, it would be okay with Coop because it would simply be part of Creamer's routine. But if she does it when the pressure is on or she feels stressed out, that's bad.
"Any major deviation from the routine is a good sign — if you're the opponent," he said. "She's got to factor in the cost/benefit. Is the benefit of keeping that physical part of your swing worth interrupting the routine? It may be. If she is at the point where the physical move, like thrusting the head forward, or even the upper body forward is so egregious that no matter how well she does her routine she is not going to hit a good shot ... well, great psychology can't overcome poor physics."