David Li and I got amazing access at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic last week. I wasn't with him while he interviewed Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson, but he and I (along with another member of the Canadian media) got an exclusive post-round interview with Paula Creamer. When I caught up with them behind the 18th green, Paula was in the middle of answering a question about how overall experience during the week.
PAULA CREAMER: I love coming to Canada. We've had such a great turnout [note: over 66,000!] and for a first-time event, uh, it's been pretty special. And, you know, I can't say enough about all the volunteers, too. I mean, they've just, they've been out here and all of them have just been troupers. It's pretty exciting.
CANADIAN REPORTER: I notice you've been tweeting a bit about your love of Tim Hortons.
CR: What are some other things you like about Canada? [laughs]
PC: You know, honestly, there's not one bad thing. I really do like it here a lot. I always seem to play pretty well, too. Like I said, it's nice to play in front of a big gallery. You know, every day I've had, you know, a lot of people out there watching, which is just special.
DAVID LI: Um, you're one the most successful players on tour. What does it mean for the LPGA to have tournament likes this playing outside the U.S., in Canada?
PC: No, I mean, like I said, anywhere that embraces women's golf and whatnot is special for us to go to, and, you know, you take time and you sign autographs, as much as you can, afterwards. And it's nice to be able to come to it and see a new place.
DL: And on the topic of Canada, you know, there's two young Canadian rookies out there, Rebecca Lee-Bentham and Maude-Aimee Leblanc. Your thoughts on the two rookies?
PC: I mean, it's totally different. I think, you know, they're learning how to deal with a lot, just the life out on tour. They're learning and I'm sure they'll get used to it and, you know, have a heck of a season, and hopefully many more years to go. They represent Canada very well.
DL: And one last question, what would be your advice to the young players out there, to reach your level of success?
PC: I mean, it's hard. I feel, I still feel like I'm young, but, uh, I guess 25 isn't that young anymore. [everyone laughs] You know, it is what it is, and, you know, you just have to embrace things like this. I mean, a lot of people want to finish their rounds and go, go home, but you just can't. It's for the fans. And you have to stay positive about yourself because it's golf, it's a marathon, not a sprint.
THE CONSTRUCTIVIST: You seem to go the extra mile for your fans. You were trying to win a major in Rochester, and you gave a ball to my six-year-old on the 8th tee--
TC: --you were acknowledging my 8-year-old when she was following you around, you have all these girls waiting for you.... I mean, it just seems like you go the extra mile. Why do you do that?
PC: Well, I love it. I really do. Um, you know, it's...I've had the best fans ever since I started coming out here, when I was 18 years old, and everybody's been so supportive of my golf. And they take the time out of their day to come and watch and cheer you on, good times and bad times. I mean, I know I'm pretty far off the lead and we had a lot of people out there wearing pink, and it's things like that, just, you know, that keep you coming and motivate you. And, uh, I'm trying to do my best that I can. And I want to win not only for myself but for everybody else as well.
TC: Sweet, so the Open's coming up. Are you gonna play in Arkansas or are you going to skip it?
PC: I'm playing Arkansas, yes. It's better for me to keep playing, keep the competitiveness going, and, you know, we'll see what happens.
TC: Sweet, good luck.
PC: Thanks, guys!
It's not just what she says, but how she says it. No doubt she's heard questions like these millions of times, but she handles each one as if she's hearing it for the first time. Even if she's repeating familiar answers, it sure doesn't sound like it. She's just very patient with her interviewers, very laid back, and very upbeat. (It probably helped that she had just shot a 67, her lowest round of the week, to sneak into the top 15.) And after talking with us for longer than most of the players we interviewed, she immediately turned and engaged her fans for even longer.