Ex-world No. 2 Creamer looking to golf's elite circle
Once world No. 2 but now 63rd, Creamer bent on reclaiming past glory
In golf, a drop in rankings does not mean fall from grace.
We have seen David Duval and Tiger Woods take the slippery slope down after holding the world No. 1 ranking in the men's game. But the duo have remained crowd favourites.
Even Taiwan's Tseng Ya-ni had a phenomenal drop, although not as drastic as Duval and Woods.
Paula Creamer, always a treat to watch from her appearance (pink attire and pink golf balls) to her golfing prowess, is yet another who has taken a dip.
Once the world's No. 2, the American is languishing at world No. 63.
Not surprisingly, as she nudges towards the age of 30, an array of young lasses have dominated the women's game interspersed with the South Korean talent brigade.
And, while Creamer describes last year as "one of my worst" years, there is still fire in her belly and a renewed steely determination to bounce back from adversity.
In a teleconference interview yesterday, Creamer oozed confidence that she can reclaim her place among the elite of women's golf.
Even perhaps add to her solitary Major triumph - which came in 2010 when she won the US Women's Open.
For someone with 10 LPGA titles, she failed to finish inside the top three in any of the 25 tournaments she played last year. And she made the top 10 on just five occasions - her prize money of US$363,485 ($523,000) put her 47th on the list of top earners.
But, with each new season, brings renewed hope. And, more importantly for the 29-year-old, she believes she has taken the necessary steps to get back on the right track.
"Definitely, Majors are obviously still a huge goal of mine," she said, when asked by The New Paper about her targets.
"This year, I want to get back into that winners' circle. I'm not ready to put the clubs away any time soon, and I'm definitely making a big push to be at the level that I know I can be.
"Last year was definitely one of my worst years, but I've worked really hard this off-season.
"My body is in great shape and, mentally, I feel I'm back where I should be."
One tournament that she is looking forward to is March's HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore, which she won in 2014 in memorable fashion after sinking a mammoth 75-foot eagle putt on the second play-off hole against Azahara Munoz.
That was her last victory on the LPGA Tour.
Having previously tasted success on the Serapong Course at the Sentosa Golf Club, the California native is quietly optimistic about her chances, even though she concedes the likes of defending champion Park Inbee and 18-year-old prodigy Lydia Ko will be the ones to beat.
"I love coming to Singapore… I think (the course) suits my game really well," Creamer said.
"Based on the strength of the field, you know you have to play well, but you always have fond memories of a place you've won at and I'm hoping I can do it again.
"Inbee is one of the best putters I've ever seen, while Lydia has one of the greatest tempos in her swing and she can replicate that every time.
"They've motivated a lot of players, including myself, to play better and work harder and, hopefully this year, I can go out there and give them a bit of a contest."
Another key event in her calendar comes in August when golf returns to the Olympic Games for the first time since 1904.
While there is still plenty to play for before the Rio Games come around, Creamer reveals that it is the one thing she will be working towards this season.
"That's my main goal this year... to play well in the beginning of the season so I can get on that team and represent the United States," she said. "There will be several major tournaments before that and I'll just be trying to be more consistent and get rid of the mistakes that will show up on the scorecard."
10 LPGA TOUR VICTORIES
- 2014: HSBC Women's Champions
- 2010: US Women's Open
- 2008: Fields Open in Hawaii, SemGroup Championship, Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, Samsung World Championship
- 2007: SBS Open at Turtle Bay, The Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions
- 2005: Sybase Classic, Evian Masters.
- Award: LPGA Rookie of the Year 2005