LPGA players who smile more are good for the game. Take Paula Creamer new U.S. Women's Open Champ
It’s easy for those of us who play the game to forget that for the pros, it is their paycheck that is on the line when they miss that putt or hit that drive. Golf for them is serious business.
Still there are players who just seem to have a better time playing the game. Remember Lorena Ochoa, the top women’s golfer of the world for 158 weeks before she retired just this past spring? Remember watching Lorena and her caddie David Brooker as they walked easily along the fairways, conferring, chatting, laughing, Lorena’s black hair pulled back into a pony tail bouncing under her golf cap?
Anyone could see there was great respect and affection between them. We watched her press her lips tightly together, concentrating hard on her shot, then relaxing, catching up with her caddie, often sharing a private laugh with David as they walked up the fairway. The old adage that golf is 10 percent concentration; 90 percent relaxation was alive and well with this pair.
She might have a 30-foot putt and start talking to it as it got closer. If she believed it was on target, she’d start running, following it, then pump her fist in joy when it rolled into the hole. As she left the green, she’d often flip a coin into the air. All this passion for the game, translated into more than wins. Lorena was one of the most popular, marketable players on the golf scene.
Who will be next?
During the LPGA Championship in Locust Hill, ultimately won by Cristie Kerr by a record margin of 12 strokes, I followed several of the players. Kerr was on a tear, threatened just a tad by Ai Miyazato who had held the No. 1 position as the world’s best player for barely a blink in time.
Those who commanded the most followers were colorful players like Cristina Kim, a plucky player who strode up the fairway with authority confident in her black-brimmed straw hat, hot electric blue pants and chartreuse shirt splashed with blue ribbons. Cristina smiled, talked to her caddie, generally seemed to be enjoying her round. She finished tied for 25th place.
Karrie Webb (tied for fifth), Lorie Kane, a popular Canadian player (tied for 64th), Sarah Jane Smith (tied for 14th), Kristy McPherson (missed cut) were others who had easy, warm smiles for fans and their caddies.
When Jiyai Shin flashed her shy smile and threw both hands into the air after sinking a long putt, you had to smile with her.
On the 14th hole the first day, Nancy Lopez lost her ball under a bridge. No one could find it. She didn’t slam her club into the ground or hang her head in despair. Instead she undramatically walked back to the top of a hill, took her drop and hit her next shot just off the green. Then she went ahead and sunk a long tricky putt. That’s class under fire.
Yes, Lopez missed the cut but in no way had she lost the affection of her fans just because her tour days are probably over. This lady has gravitas. With 52 career wins, she’s a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, member of the Solheim Cup (1990) and team captain in 2005. She is one of the legends in women’s golf.
These players are fun to watch.
Paula Creamer, a pretty vision in pink down to her pink-ribbon-tied Adidas golf shoes, held the lead going into the final day of the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont. She was remarkably composed in spite of a painful left thumb. You could tell it hurt when she hit the ground on one shot and grimaced. Still she continued to acknowledge the gallery, talk to her caddie and smile in spite of tremendous pressure. Paula badly wanted to win her first Open.
Being on the LPGA is a hard grind. Got to wonder though, if some players would benefit from a little more relaxation, a few more smiles, more passion. I’ll bet Suzann Pettersen, a striking girl and a highly talented player, has a beautiful smile. I’d just like to see it.
As Paula Creamer hit the home stretch, she hit a great pitch on the 15th. It landed about a foot from the hole. She smiled broadly, joyfully punched the shoulder of her long-time caddie, Colin Cann, and walked to the green. Sank the putt.
Paula may be drop-dead gorgeous - that has to help increase endorsement opportunities - but finally, what she wanted was to excel at a game she’s worked so hard at. At 23 years of age, as the new U.S. Women’s Open Champion, she has proved to the world, and most important to herself, she is more than a pretty face, a great body in a sexy short white skirt, pink shirt, hot pink hat and Sundog glasses.
Paula now has both hands on the trophy. She is a winner. She is all smiles.
I’ve gotta bet, this is just the beginning. What a great day for women’s golf. What a great day for the U.S.
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It's great to see a young golfer do it the right way -- win the amateur championships, work your way up, be a full-time pro and not a dilettante.
Paula has done it with great talent and great determination and hard work -- not with hype.
It's especially super to see this tough, smart, charismatic young woman win the most prized golf tournament at all -- a national championship event.
If her thumb holds up, this is going to be just the start of a "beautiful friendship" between Paula and the fans -- and between Paula and more major championships.
Paula Creamer -- what a wonderful champion and a credit to her sport. She spends so much time with the young ones and older fans.
It was super to see her break through and no longer have to answer those silly questions about never winning a major
And think about this. Paula has something neither Lorena Ochoa or Phil Mickelson have: A U.S. Open golf championship.
This couldn't have happened to a nicer person.
Congrats again Paula. You earned it !
Unless you want your journalism career to sink, you need to know these things.
WTF...is this a golf blog or English 101 Judge?
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