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This was not the ending they wanted.
When Beatriz Recari sank her winning four-foot putt Sunday, the thousands of fans that surrounded the 18th green at Highland Meadows mustered a polite applause — the sort of golf clap you’d expect for a nice approach shot on the eighth fairway, not the biggest one of the Marathon Classic.
Nothing against Recari, but a crowd flecked with pink may have wanted this tournament for Paula Creamer as much as the "Pink Panther" did herself. Creamer’s final group featured the biggest galleries and the biggest cheers.
PHOTO GALLERY: Marathon Classic fourth round
"I love this area," said Creamer, who began the day tied atop the leaderboard with Recari. "I’ve been so lucky to have so many great fans everywhere I go, but I think this [weekend] might be the top of the ... top-five most pink I’ve ever seen out on the golf course. I’ve been here nine years, so that’s telling you al lot.
"I tried as hard as I could for everybody. It was a little bit silent when [Recari] made that putt. But she deserved it."
Then, with a smile, she added, "The win, not the silence."
In the end, Creamer lost by a shot but may have gained something more important — an outsized jolt of confidence.
Creamer, a local fan favorite who won the Farr Classic in 2008 and is sponsored by Owens Corning, has been wedged in the longest drought of her career.
She came to Sylvania this week in search of her first victory since the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open and, more than that, the rush of competing with all eyes lasered on her during the final round.
Creamer had finished outside the top 10 in 10 of 14 events this season. A week earlier, the 26-year-old Creamer, who has nine career wins, placed 41st at the Manulife Financial Classic in Canada.
"Am I bummed? Yeah, super bummed," she said Sunday after pocketing $120,655. "But I feel really good being back in this spot and tasting that bit of pressure and excitement coming down the stretch."
That’s what she delivered in a veritable match-play duel Sunday, with her and Recari swapping the lead but never separating by more than a shot. Creamer shot a 4-under 67 to finish with a 16-under 268. Recari won with a 267.
"This was great for me," she said. "I had a great attitude the whole week. I was really calm and started to make more putts and give myself as many opportunities as i could. Most importantly, I fought as hard as I possibly could, and that was a confidence builder.
"I’m in a really good place right now."
Contact David Briggs at: email@example.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @ DBriggsBlade.