It's been almost 26 months since Paula Creamer hoisted her last trophy. But finally there is good news for the LPGA: the "Pink Panther" leads by two in the Kingsmill Championship after three rounds.
Creamer has had three of her best rounds in the last couple of seasons, having shot 65, 67 and 65. Actually, she had the lowest round of the day on Saturday: six-under.
For the first time since the 2010 U.S. Women's Open, @thepcreamer will hold the lead heading into the final round— LPGA (@lpga) September 8, 2012
For a player as competitive as Creamer, grabbing her last trophy on July 11, 2010—the U.S. Women's Open—hasn’t been easy.
“I put the most pressure on myself, for sure. Two years, I think about it every day. I mean, my last win was two years at Oakmont, and with surgery and things like that your body's not going to bounce back as fast as you would like it to,” she said on Thursday.
The wait has been long, so long that she has been working with her coach David Wheelan to rebuilt her swing from scratch. The results are starting to show. For the first time in 26 months, Creamer will start the final round leading.
Having Creamer in the spotlight helps the LPGA more than many can imagine. If she wins, the tour will have a significant boost.
She is one of the most amicable players on tour. She hasn't won for over two years and she still draws some of the biggest crowds.
Little girls, teenagers, adults, you name it; everyone wants a piece of the golfer who has secured nine LPGA titles and the Rookie of the Year award in 2005, at age 19.
All this makes her one of the best ambassadors of the tour's campaign: See Why It's Different Out Here; a marketing effort that seeks to show fans, media and sponsors that the LPGA is not the same as other sports leagues.
Talking specifically about the Kingsmill Championship, formerly known as Michelob Ultra Open, it left the schedule in 2009, when the LPGA was struggling to keep sponsors.
The tournament has always had some of the best fields, biggest money prizes and finest winners. Previous champions include Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr, Karrie Webb and Suzann Pettersen.
If Paula Creamer wins, not only the list will become even more stellar, the welcome back would be huge.
The LPGA is seeking to expand its schedule, to get to more parts of the world and recover from some decisions made by former commissioner Carolyn Bivens.
The tour wants to draw money and attention and to make it happen its members must be recognizable, hence marketable. Who's better for the job than a golfer that keeps signing deals despite a bad economy?
Creamer's newest sponsor is Garia, a company that manufactures luxury golf cars. The official announcement was made on July 30.
The Pink Panther is 18 holes away from sealing the deal. If she keeps the good work and manages to hold back Jiyai Shin, who trails by two and is known as the "Final Round Queen" for her impressive performances on Sundays, expect her to come out of the bump in style.
The LPGA will receive the result with open arms, especially since only four American players have won this season: Stacy Lewis (2), Jessica Korda, Angela Stanford and Brittany Lang, and world No. 1 Yani Tseng hasn’t been inside the winners’ circle since March.
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