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Published: Sunday, 6/28/2009

Perfect in pink: Creamer's first-round 60 propeled her to '08 Farr title

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
With the nickname "Pink Panther" it was only fitting that Paula Creamer win an event that has that mascot.
<br>
<img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/jpg/TO66067417.JPG> <b><font color=red>VIEW: </b></font color=red> <a href="/assets/pdf/TO67505628.PDF" target="_blank "><b>2009 Jamie Farr Classic fan guide</b></a> With the nickname "Pink Panther" it was only fitting that Paula Creamer win an event that has that mascot. <br> <img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/jpg/TO66067417.JPG> <b><font color=red>VIEW: </b></font color=red> <a href="/assets/pdf/TO67505628.PDF" target="_blank "><b>2009 Jamie Farr Classic fan guide</b></a>
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The timing could have been a coincidence. But it's possible that a visit to Highland Meadows Golf Club in May provided Paula Creamer with the oomph she was looking to regain in her game.

Creamer, the 22-year-old defending champion of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger, spent much of last winter dealing with undiagnosed stomach problems. She lost weight and underwent dozens of tests with nothing resolved.

When she returned to check out her street sign in Sylvania on May 11 and preview this year's tourney, Creamer said she was just starting to feel normal again.

What followed was truly anything but normal. Creamer reeled off three consecutive top 10 finishes, including third place at the Sybase Classic and second place at the LPGA Corning Classic. At the Corning in New York on May 24, she sank a 60-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that electrified the crowd and shocked even her.

"It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it," Creamer said at the time.

That's how many golf fans feel looking back to Creamer's first-round 60 in the 2008 Farr Classic, a performance that was one stroke off the LPGA record. She birdied nine of the last 11 holes to set the Highland Meadows record and a personal-best by four strokes.

"It just shows you when a great athlete is on, it's amazing," tournament director Judd Silverman said. "A day like that can happen. It's incredible."

Creamer shot a 65 in the second round to maintain a six-shot lead, and hung on over the weekend to win the Farr by two strokes over Nicole Castrale.

A native of Pleasanton, Calif., Creamer was eighth on the tour money list with earnings of $568,436 heading into this weekend's Wegman's LPGA tourney. In the two LPGA majors played so far this year, she finished tied for 17th at the Kraft Nabisco and tied for 16th at the LPGA Championship.

In her fifth year on tour, Creamer has won eight LPGA tournaments. Just before Creamer began her strong stretch over the last two months, she said she was dealing with flaws in her short game.

"My putting has been letting me down," Creamer said. "I'm finally getting them back together, putting and driving, at the same time, to what my normal game is. I feel good, I feel strong."

Despite a slow start, Creamer is still third in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings and is the top-ranked American.

"She's a very talented young lady. It's certainly not the start she wanted in '09," Silverman said. "It's been a tough start for her. It sounds like she's gotten it behind her."



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