Creamer putts it in perspective

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

Paula Creamer admitted to being a tad green around the gills.

The LPGA young gun also revealed yesterday her concern for how the greens will play during the 2009 CN Canadian Women's Open.

Colour the 'Pink Panther' honest -- and effective -- especially when she knows that, as one of the big-name stars, her opinion stacks up large on a tour that's been beaten black and blue at times this season.

"The greens here are not the best greens we've ever had," said Creamer on the eve of the today's opening round at Priddis Greens Golf & Country Club southwest of the city.

"There's bentgrass and then there's poa annua grass, so there's kind of these little bumps everywhere, so hitting it close to the pin is going to be the most beneficial out there.

"The mornings are probably going to be a little bit easier for the putts," she continued. "There's not as many people walking around out there, so morning tee-times I want to try and take advantage on the front nine more.

"It's unfortunate the greens aren't perfect, but it gives it a little bit of character."

The 23-year-old California native is the first to speak negative -- at least publicly -- about the LPGA stop this week.

Given Creamer's status in women's golf -- she's widely considered one of the Big 3 alongside Michelle Wie and Lorena Ochoa -- her take speaks volumes.

The only aspect of Creamer that's more important is her presence on the tour, and that was in question after she withdrew from last week's Safeway Classic in Oregon due to the flu and bronchitis.

She's a fan favourite, and scores of Calgarians were relieved to see her hitting the practice tees early Monday at Priddis Greens.

"Yes, I did think about that," said Creamer, when asked if she considered heading home from the Pacific Northwest instead of making the trip to Calgary. "I know this year has been pretty crazy, and it would be nice to kind of get healthy again.

"But at the same time, I took those days off last week, meaning I couldn't move, so I did get some quote-unquote rest. I'm on the mend, so that's all you can ask for."

Besides, with her star power comes responsibilities to the tour, and Creamer knows missing two events -- especially one considered the 'fifth' major among the LPGA stars -- is a big hit to the circuit.

"I feel like I do have a role that I need to fulfil," said Creamer, who sits sixth on this year's money list just shy of US$900,000.

"I've always been lucky enough to have been mentored by some great veterans out here, and hopefully I can influence young girls to get involved with the game like how I was influenced."

Based on the number of Calgarians -- young and old -- wanting to catch a glimpse of her preparing for the CN Canadian Women's Open, the eight-time LPGA winner has already accomplished that.

She draws arguably as many fans as anybody else on tour.

"It's the hardest thing in the world withdrawing from an event -- it's the most difficult thing," said Creamer, who's still suffering from bronchitis.

"Even last week, here I am 20 minutes from the golf course and I have to see the doctor and everybody's out there playing, and then the fans ... I hate doing it. It's awful.

"But I don't have to this week -- knock on wood."

It's just the "bumpy greens" she'll have to handle with care.

TODD.SAELHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


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