Paula Creamer ended a nearly four-year winless streak with a putt for the ages on the second playoff hole Sunday at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.
Facing a severely right-to-left-breaking 75-footer she hoped to get close enough to put pressure on her opponent, Azahara Munoz. Creamer watched her ball roll down a bank and pick up speed as it headed for the hole. In disbelief when it actually fell, the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champion ran around the green with her arms in the air before dropping her knees and head to the ground, pounding the turf.
''It's one of those putts, you hit the perfect speed and I hit the back of the hole," Creamer told reporters after capturing that elusive 10th LPGA Tour win. ''But I could stand there all day long and putt that ... It was like somebody just knocked the wind out of me."
The victory snapped a 79-tourney winless skid for one of most recognizable faces of ladies' golf.
"It might be one of my favorite wins, and that's taking a pretty big leap right there," she said. "So much has happened … It has been coming and it just shows you perseverance."
Creamer’s 3-under 69 to get to 10-under for the week forced overtime with Munoz, who carded a 70 in the final round. Not surprisingly, the popular 27-year-old known to fans as the Pink Panther in honor of her favorite color, flashed back to the 2012 Kingsmill Championship in which she lost a grueling, nine-hole sudden-death playoff to Jiyai Shin.
"I guess I've come close [in the] playoff with Jiyai and wasn't going to go play it eight times and come back the next day, that's for sure," said Creamer.
It was almost a three-way playoff with Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, whose late-inning collapse knocked her out of contention. With a three-shot lead after seven holes in the finale, the winner of the Women’s Australian Open two weeks ago blamed bad judgment down the stretch for her meltdown and hinted at an equipment change after finishing with a 74 and one shot back of the leaders.
"Just not a lot of good decisions," said Webb, who bogeyed three of her final six holes, including the 18th. "Bad swing on 15 but just bad decisions. I shouldn't have probably hit 3-wood off 16 just because I missed with that club for some reason this week. I've had that club in my bag for 10 years and it's going left, so might need to look at a different 3-wood, I think. Just shouldn't have hit 3-wood off there but I made a good par."
(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
In the playoff, both contestants made pars on the first hole and Creamer played aggressively on the second after Munoz laid up.
"Aza has been playing great and I knew she was not going to make a mistake, and I knew someone was going to have to make a birdie," said the 10-year veteran. "It's a tough pin placement and decided to lay up in the second time in the playoff. I had a number and I trusted it, but you know, it's one of those things that, would you do it again, would you not; of course I would do what I did."
As for the dagger to Munoz’ heart to clinch the win, a TV broadcaster said Creamer’s aim was not actually to get to the pin.
"This is not about holing a putt," he said. "Its a bonus if it goes in, it’s almost a miracle."
Creamer herself did not see the final rotation.
"I really didn’t even watch the last four feet of it," she said. "I was just hoping it would slow down when it was near the hole, and then it disappeared."
With her triumph, Creamer will move from 11th in the world to No. 8 in the Rolex Rankings.