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Paula Creamer brings spark to Solheim Cup

Paula Creamer insists her promise to win back the Solheim Cup for the U.S. team was no rookie mistake. Her new teammates and American captain, Nancy Lopez, agree.

Creamer, the first rookie to make the U.S. team, refused to back down from her brash prediction Monday -- one day after warning the Europeans to expect defeat in next week's international competition at the Crooked Stick course in suburban Indianapolis.

The comments even generated support.

``She's 18, 19, she can say anything she wants,'' Lopez said. ``It's nothing against the Europeans, she's just excited to play, she's very enthusiastic and I love it. All I want to hear is positive, nothing negative.''

Creamer gained her spot on the team by qualifying eighth in the points for 10 automatic berths on the 12-woman team. Lopez selected Wendy Ward and Beth Daniel as her two captain's choices.

The European contingent is led by Sweden's Annika Sorenstam and England's Laura Davies, two of the biggest names in women's golf. Sorenstam is the world's top player, and Davies has a reputation for hitting long drives.

But it was Creamer who made the biggest splash when the teams were announced Sunday. She promised the Americans would bring back the Cup after an embarrassing 7-point loss in 2003 -- the most lopsided in the biennial event's eight-match history.

After a practice round on the course that made John Daly famous with his 1991 PGA Championship victory, Creamer said she had no regrets.

``I said what I needed to say,'' Creamer said. ``We're all excited to be here. I may have gotten a little ahead of myself, but I am ready to win.''

Creamer's teammates are already believers.

After watching the 19-year-old win twice on the LPGA tour this year -- and come close several other times -- she wrapped up the tour's rookie of the year honors Sunday despite losing the Wendy's Championship for Children in Dublin, Ohio, by one stroke to Cristie Kerr.

Kerr won the points race, beating Meg Mallon 787.5 to 419.5, and acknowledged that Creamer would likely back up her talk.

``I'll tell you, it will be hard to play against her,'' Kerr said. ``I'm glad I'm her teammate.''

The American team wasted little time in preparing for next week's event.

They took a three-hour bus ride from Ohio to the Crooked Stick course. Players said they talked, watched a movie and bonded on the trip.

It also gave veterans an opportunity to privately temper Creamer's exuberance.

``I talk to them if there's something I think they need to ease up on,'' Lopez said. ``But they're grown women. If there's something you feel, you might have to bite your tongue a little bit. That's called teamwork.''

But Lopez wasn't about to quash the confidence expressed by Creamer.

Monday's practice round was the third for the Americans at this course, and they liked what they saw -- smooth greens, challenging rough and opportunities to score.

``The greens seem to be rolling a little smoother than they were two weeks ago,'' said Laura Diaz, the 10th qualifier. ``The fans want good golf and when you see birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie, that's fun.''

More important, the Americans also seemed to like what they were hearing -- especially from Creamer.

``She should say that,'' Natalie Gulbis said. ``I don't want to look at it any other way.''


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