Believe it or not — at the second straight major, an American stood at the top of the leaderboard when the last putt dropped at the US Women’s Open.
After draining a five-footer for par on 18, she dropped her putter and covered her face with her hands. The wait was finally over for Paula Creamer — she is a major champion winner. With a dazzling performance in the final nine holes, Creamer rose to the occasion at Oakmont GC, hitting one remarkable shot after another and draining birdies to pull away from the field with a commanding four-shot victory.
“I’ve matured over the last couple of months,” Paula said in her post-round interview on the 18th green. “It was hard — it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I honestly prepared for this week in the last three months…mentally i was just gunning for this week. It just makes everything so much better.”
And it’s well-deserved.
Playing with pain in her left thumb after surgery this spring, the 23-year-old stayed patient and calm on her way to her ninth victory. In the finishing holes, she visibly let out deep sighs of relief — followed by a major smile — after each shot was struck beautifully and landed in good position.
With the win safely locked in going into the 72nd hole, Creamer pounded a drive down the middle of the fairway. She hit a wood to pin high on the green. Whew.
As her father Paul Creamer walked down the fairway, he was feeling “numb,” adding that Paula had been through a lot in the past nine months as she dealt with her injured thumb.
At the start of the week, there was heaps of chatter that the winning score could be as high as eight-over. Creamer conquered the tough setup to finish the week at 3-under par, the only player who posted a red number. And it’s no wonder she came out the winner, playing the par 4s at five-under for the championship.
Meanwhile, Na Yeon Choi posted an impressive closing 66 to tie Suzann Pettersen for runner-up honors. 15-year-old Lexi Thompson started with a double bogey, but she recovered and played the rest of the round even par to place T10.
But, of course, the day goes to Paula Creamer, the 2010 US Women’s Open champion. Congrats, Paula!
[AP Photo/Mike Groll]