WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — On the 13th tee of the final round, the player known for always wearing some pink needed some medicine to settle her stomach.
“It was called Pink Lady,” Paula Creamer said. “It’s this pink medicine. And I said, ‘Did you do this on purpose?”’
Creamer surely played with a purpose on Sunday, just as she did all week.
Her goals were simple: Get her fifth win of the year and supplant Lorena Ochoa for the LPGA’s season-long money title. She hoped not even an inflamed abdominal wall and an overnight trip to the hospital would stop her.
But in the end, the week took its toll. Creamer shot a final-round 74 Sunday at the ADT Championship, good for only a tie for third place. She finished four shots behind Ji-Yai Shin, whose 2-under 70 was good enough to beat Karrie Webb by one shot in the race for the $1 million winner’s prize – the biggest on the LPGA Tour.
All eight players in Sunday’s field started at even par, a nuance of the ADT’s double-cut, erase-the-scores format.
“I mean, it’s hard for me right now, because, yes, I feel so sick,” Creamer said. “But I played well under these circumstances. And what if I was feeling great? What would have happened?”
She’ll never know.
Creamer needed to win Sunday to finish atop the money list, something no American player has done since Betsy King in 1993. Instead, Ochoa, who didn’t make the ADT weekend, prevailed with $2,762,660. Creamer finished in second with $1,823,992.
“I gave it all I had,” said Creamer, who fell ill Wednesday night. “I tried as hard as I possibly could. I wasn’t going to quit.”
Creamer made two birdies in a three-hole span on the back side, but took a three-putt bogey at the par-5 15th, essentially ending her chances at her fifth win of the year.
“Really?” she yelled at herself in disbelief after the 15th, when she spent a few extra seconds on the green and slapped her left leg in disgust.
Creamer had some fight, but not enough.
For many, the ADT week was filled with drama, starting with Annika Sorenstam’s final tournament on the LPGA Tour – a farewell that ended Friday when she didn’t make the weekend field – and continuing with Creamer’s illness.
She considered withdrawing Friday morning, almost unable to get out of bed, and wound up getting three CT scans and fluids through an intravenous tube in a South Florida hospital on Saturday night.
“They got to know me really well,” said Creamer, who insisted that doctors release her by 7:15 a.m. Sunday so she could make her tee time, even though she was only able to eat toast, some bagel and about three bites of banana in the previous 48 hours.
Shin can now afford to eat whatever she wants.
As she walked down the 18th fairway Sunday, Shin kept her thoughts away from becoming an instant millionaire. Or, in her nation’s currency, an instant billionaire.
In her native currency, Shin collected 1.493 billion South Korean won.
That’s a lot of won for one win.
“A really special year for me,” said Shin, who won’t even join the LPGA until next year but won three times on the tour this year, including the Women’s British Open.
Of the eight players who remained in Sunday’s shootout for $1 million, Shin was the only one to never have her total score rise above par. She started with two birdies in her first three holes, saved a par after hitting into the water on the par-4 6th and vaulted to the front when Webb strung together three straight bogeys on holes 11-13.
Webb rolled in a long birdie on the 18th to get within one, but Shin merely needed a cool two-putt for the win.
“I gave myself a chance,” Webb said. “Making it to Sunday was the minimum goal for the week, and today I played very solidly. I just probably needed a couple more putts to go in. I’m just glad I made Ji-Yai think about it on the last hole.”
Eun-Hee Ji was alone in fifth with a 75, Angela Stanford was sixth after a 78, while Suzann Pettersen and Jeong Jang both finished with 79s.
They’ll all be footnotes.
This week could be remembered as the farewell for one star and the arrival of a budding one.
“Many times won. This very special,” said Shin, who speaks English very well for someone who began learning the language eight months ago. “Can’t believe, last year, only watching the TV.”
Shin – who has won 21 times worldwide since the start of 2007 and has tournaments left this year in Japan and Korea – says she’ll take the money and look for a new home, perhaps in the Orlando area, where some Korean players already live.
Her goal for 2009 is to be the LPGA’s rookie of the year. Given the way she played at times this year, player of the year wouldn’t be an unrealistic target either.
“Out of all the Koreans that have come up, she’s got the most potential,” Webb said.