It's been 14 years since Paula Creamer won the Evian Championship. In 2005, the tournament was just a regular LPGA Tour stop, not a major. And Creamer was just 18. She's now 32, and, surprisingly, perhaps, finds herself out front once again. After a first-round, bogey-free 64, Creamer has taken an early lead in France.
Ranked No. 156 in the world and winless since 2014, Creamer has had moments of great play of late that make her first-round success not entirely out of nowhere. A week earlier, Creamer and Morgan Pressel held the lead at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, the new team event on the LPGA schedule. Creamer had seven rounds in the 60s before Day 1 at Evian Resort Golf Club. She says that the good play is in part because of some changes to her putting.
Specifically, Creamer has changed her stance, with her feet no longer lined up with one another. Instead, her left foot is slightly behind her right. She describes it as a split putting stance, a style she adopted at the end of June. One of the things she likes about it is that she steps into the putt and starts the stroke without much hesitation.
"I just seem to be able to repeat that over and over again," Creamer said. "That was something we've been trying to do, be more consistent with my putting. It's helped my speed a lot, too. My stroke is just very compact with it."
She's now also using the green-reading system AimPoint. The changes appear to be working for Creamer; she had 25 putts during the first round at the Evian Championship.
Creamer also attributes her comfort with the course to her success at the Evian.
"I love this golf course," Creamer said. "I just think it sets up really well for my game. It's nice when you can come to a place that you've won at as well."
The win in 2005 is one of 10 LPGA victories in Creamer's career. They include one major, the 2010 U.S. Women's Open. Creamer's experience shows through when she talks about what it means to be leading early in a major.
"I feel very good. Not every day is a going to be great. Not every day is gonna be bad, either," Creamer said. "I just feel like mentally I'm in a very, very strong place."
But she's not letting herself get excited just yet.
"Who knows if that's going to stay," Creamer said of the early lead. "Still a lot of golf left, three days, and I can only just keep doing what I've been doing the last several weeks."