EDINA, Minn. (AP) — Paula Creamer strutted to the first tee box for the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open cloaked in her trademark pink and just one shot off the lead, her first major championship there for the taking.
By the time she made the turn with two double bogeys and a 41 on her card, it was already clear that she would keep getting questions about when she will win a major.
Creamer crumbled amid the high wind at Interlachen on Sunday, shooting a 5-over 78 to tie for sixth, six shots behind 19-year-old winner Inbee Park. It was the third time in the last seven majors that someone younger than the 21-year-old Creamer hoisted the trophy.
“It’s probably the most disappointed I’ve been in a very long time,” Creamer said.
This one stung a lot more than the 2005 Women’s Open at Cherry Hills, where Creamer started the final round one shot out of the lead and faltered to a 79.
Creamer began the day 8 under, one shot back of Stacy Lewis, who was making her pro debut. But she went into the left bunker on No. 2 and chunked her third shot over the green on her way to the first of two doubles on the front nine, an ominous sign so early in the round.
“It was so hard for me to get anything close to the pin,” Creamer said. “My ball-striking wasn’t like it was the other days, and if you kind of mis-hit it and how windy it was, it makes it a lot harder.”
Like many players Sunday, Creamer never was able to figure out those swirling winds and hit just eight greens in regulation. Perhaps a little too hungry for that first big victory, she said she used “poor course management” and an overly aggressive approach on a day that called for a steady, conservative diet of fairways and greens.
“Just wrong decisions at wrong times,” Creamer said as she watched Park accept the trophy she was so determined to win. “That’s why I’m not standing over on that 18th green. Things like that.”
After another double bogey on No. 9, Creamer made the turn hoping to put the 41 behind her and get back into contention. It was clear that just wasn’t going to happen for her when her fourth shot on No. 10, a short chip from the right edge, rimmed in the hole and out.
Creamer fell to her knees and crumpled with her nose on the turf, coming to grips with another poor showing on the final day of The Open, where her career fourth-round scoring average is 75.2.
“It was just not my day today,” Creamer said. “I never really got any momentum going. You play so well to get to this point and then you don’t have a good Sunday. It’s kind of hard.”
The 21-year-old with six tour victories already under her belt is one of the bigger attractions on the LPGA Tour and she inspired something of a pink revolution on Sunday. Her color of choice could be seen all over the large galleries throughout the rolling hills of Interlachen, including on one young man who wore a pink visor, pink bandanna wrapped around his wrist and sported a white T-shirt that read “Marry Me Paula,” written in pink, of course.
“It was a rough day. Especially when you have such a great gallery out there cheering you on the whole time, it’s just hard,” Creamer said. “I think that’s the hardest part.”
Now, if only Creamer could get that pink ball of hers to serve her as faithfully, she might finally have the major championship on her resume to support all that attention.
While she was noticeably crestfallen after her most recent failure, Creamer was relatively upbeat about 20 minutes after exiting the course. She says she has more confidence than ever that the end of her major championship drought will come sooner than later.
“It wasn’t my day,” Creamer said. “And I can tell you that it definitely has motivated me more.”