A two-way playoff between the famously pink-wearing PAULA CREAMER and fellow golfer Azahara Munoz, saw the American sink an incredible, career-defining 75-ft eagle putt to claim victory at last year’s HSBC Women’s Champions. Will she be able to defend her title this March? We speak to the 28-year-old before she steps out onto Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong course.
During the off-season you went on your honeymoon, to New Zealand and Bora-Bora. Are you feeling suitably refreshed?
It was definitely the most out-of the-box off season that I ever thought I would have in my career but, it was awesome. It was great to be able to spend time with my husband and get and I feel so refreshed and it’s a new feeling. When I got back to practice after my honeymoon, I was just, I was so motivated, I was so excited to get a club back in my hand. It was quite a long time, the most, probably the biggest break I’ve ever taken in my life. And it’s so great, I feel really good and I’m just excited to get this year going and I think this is going to be a good year for myself.
We’re all still talking about that amazing eagle putt from last year. What are your own thoughts on that shot twelve months later?
It was fun, it was exciting, it puts a broad smile on your face. You know, it just makes me realise that I played a good game. Here you are with a 75 eagle-putt, determined you’ll make it — [it] puts everything into perspective. And, yeah, I’m glad I didn’t have to do it again. But you know those moments in sport — that’s what brings me back and that’s what keeps everybody involved.
And quite truthfully, that was such a monumental move for myself and my confidence and it’s everything that I’ve worked for. The end of the year wasn’t quite what I wanted, but I do really feel that a taste of that winning sensation pushed me and there’s nothing better than that.
You’ll be back to defend your HSBC Women’s Champions title in March. How do you feel going into the tournament?
I am relaxed, I feel good. You know, defending your title is a different feeling. It’s a little bit of added pressure but I’ve always played very good at this golf course and I feel like I can do that again and just be in a good mind-set — only good things can happen when you’re in that situation.
You do seem to have a lot positive emotions related to Sentosa and to the tournament.
I think Singapore is an amazing country. I love going there. I love the food, I love the atmosphere, I love the culture, and we stay at this amazing hotel. The golf course is just awesome. I mean it’s a great test of golf, it tests every ability, off the tee, your iron, your putting, your short game, every part of it. And not to talk about the scenery; everything is so beautiful. HSBC does such a good job of making us feel welcome. I enjoy it, it’s a great week. And the fans, everybody that comes down to watch, they just love golf. I truly feel that they embrace women’s golf and that makes me want to play my best.
What’s your number one goal?
My number one goal has always been to be the number one player in the world but it’s not just about being the number one player — it’s to stay there. I know I have a lot to do to get to that point but that drive and that ambition is just so high that nothing else can compare to it. It’s so important to me. My other ambition is to grow the game of golf, whether it is by influencing one, two, or 10 girls wherever it is in the world.
What advice would you give to other female athletes in typically male-dominated sports?
I would say stay true to yourself. I mean, most females that go into male-dominated sports feel very confident and are very competitive. Stay that way. There’s nothing wrong with being female, being athletic, being feminine and whether it comes down to your attire or the way you act, I feel like it’s incredibly important to stay true to yourself. There’s a reason why you’re there, why you got into the sport — it’s to be strong.
We’ve got a new World No.1, Lydia Ko, who is just 17. Is there any advice you would offer her? That’s tough, because she’s awesome. She’s strong, she’s great at all things and I wouldn’t need to say what she needs to do because she’s doing a great job at it all. I think the biggest thing for her is to be herself and play a great season. I just want her to keep pushing herself because she has such a bright future but, that said, being able to balance life and being able to balance her goal is going to be her toughest thing.
HSBC Women’s Champions returns to Sentosa Golf Club from March 5-8, 2015; hsbcgolf.com