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Pink Panther's stock is on the rise

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/8/2010 (2197 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

NORTH PLAINS, Ore. -- Paula Creamer, reigning U.S. Women's Open champion -- it has a nice ring to it.

That and a proper LPGA membership credential will grant you access to the Safeway Classic's media and interview room this week.

Paula Creamer won the U.S. Open despite taping her surgically repaired left thumb, which still affects her tee shots.

MIKE GROLL / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES

Paula Creamer won the U.S. Open despite taping her surgically repaired left thumb, which still affects her tee shots.

The first-time major winner, on her way to meet with reporters on Thursday afternoon, was not carrying her player's badge. And to the efficient security guard watching the door inside the Pumpkin Ridge clubhouse, the Pink Panther's pink ponytail ribbon was not good enough.

At least until everyone inside started vouching for her.

The amusing incident aside, Creamer's stock is on the rise on the LPGA Tour.

Her ninth victory, the biggest of her career, vaulted her from the 13th in the Rolex Rankings to solidly into the top 10 at No. 7.

And added a certain credibility.

"Everybody's very supportive of what you do," Creamer said. "People know I worked pretty hard to get that first major.

"But there is a respect level because we're all athletes out here, all trying to be as good as we can possibly be. And when somebody does a good thing, you have to kind of call it out on them. Yani (Tseng) has won two majors this year. That's awesome. You like to see people achieve dreams and goals.

"But it is a different feeling. I've been out here a while so it's neat, having a major."

Creamer said she still feels the buzz from her early-July win at Oakmont but now faces another tough decision about her surgically repaired left thumb, an injury that kept her out of action for four months earlier this year.

Creamer said Thursday that pain has returned. She visited her doctor after finishing tied for 21st a the British Open three weeks ago. She believes there is no new damage but that the healing process just needs more time.

"Everything looks pretty good in there," she said. "It just hasn't had much time to heal. I'm going to figure out what to do after Canada and we'll come up with a decision after that."

Creamer did say she's still a go for next week's CN Canadian Open at Winnipeg's St. Charles Country Club but that she doesn't believe her game is 100 per cent.

"It's affecting a lot how I play," Creamer said. "It hurts. I was getting my distance back but I'm kind of going backwards now. I've lost 20 yards, 25 yards off the tee. It hurts so bad off the tee I can't really go after it as much as I would like.

"It just needs to heal. It's so swollen, it doesn't have any time to get better. That's the hard thing. They said it was going to take a year, so this is just the beginning of it."

After the major win, Creamer is still a couple of points, on average, from jumping into the now-weekly jockeying for the women's No. 1 world ranking, a place she said "dying" to reach.

"I'm dying to get into that mix," Creamer said. "It's hard but I know that right now I have to listen to my body and to what's happening. This is a problem I don't want to come back in five or six years. I want to fix it now, so if I do have to go backwards a bit, it's part of the process.

"I've never made it a secret I want to be the No. 1 player in the world and I do want to stay there for a long time."

The rankings and the CN Canadian purse of US$2.25 million are items that have Creamer's attention for next week.

And the fact that the championship is being played on a traditional, old golf course is another.

"I grew up on an old-style, traditional golf course, tree-lined and with kind of small greens with big undulations," she said. "Oakmont just fit my eye. I've always done better on (old courses). The harder the golf course, the better I seem to play. I like it when three- or four-under wins. Twenty-under-par just brings so many more people into contention."

NOTES: The LPGA Tour has chartered a plane to take players and staff from Portland to Winnipeg on Sunday night, after the conclusion of the Safeway Classic...Next week, St. Charles has a somewhat unusual configuration where there are back-to-back par-5 holes, Nos. 13 and 14. Here at the Ghost Creek course at Pumpkin Ridge this week, there are three par-5's in a row, Nos. 8, 9 and 10, which will be key moments in most rounds...The power of British Open winner Tseng reached around the globe to her home country, Taiwan. "Lots of people were crying because I was crying on 18," Tseng laughed on Thursday.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Tim Campbell.

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