Paula Creamer has been here before: club-kicking frustrated and misty-eyed at missing a short par putt to lose a sudden-death playoff.
She can only hope she rebounds as quickly and as well.
Creamer's latest setback transpired Monday morning at the Kingsmill Championship, where her three-putt bogey gift-wrapped the second-longest overtime in LPGA history for Jiyai Shin.
The pair contested one hole, the par-4 16th, to conclude an exhausting nine-hole playoff suspended Sunday evening by darkness.
Creamer called the battle more mental than physical, and she was probably right. She and Shin parred all eight extra holes Sunday, with each enduring knee-buckling misses at victory.
"It was going to be a mistake," Creamer said.
Playing before a spirited, surprisingly large gallery of perhaps 1,000, Shin and Creamer both reached the green in regulation. But Shin was within 15 feet, Creamer 30 feet.
Through three rounds, Creamer was among the best putters in the field, touring 54 holes with just 85 putts. But she three-putted the 18th in regulation Sunday to create the playoff, missing a 5-footer after a bold birdie try.
Same script Monday. Creamer's first putt ran 5 feet past, leaving her a downhill par attempt with considerable break.
She missed on the right side, and with Shin in tap-in range for par, Creamer knew it was over.
She strolled toward the back of the green and kicked her putter in frustration. Couldn't blame her at all.
"I'll probably think about this for a little bit," Creamer said, "but not too long. It's hard — the thing about golf and sports is, you've got to have that great short-term memory."
Creamer speaks from experience.
At the 2008 Stanford International, she led Annika Sorenstam by one with three to play. But she bogeyed the 16th and missed a short par putt on the first playoff hole.
The very next week, at the SemGroup Championship, Creamer birdied the second playoff hole to defeat Juli Inkster.
Bodes well for this week's Women's British Open.
"I'm going to learn so much from this," said Creamer, the world's 18th ranked played but winless since the 2010 U.S. Women's Open.
Shin, No. 13 in the world, had mixed emotions: compassion for Creamer, satisfaction at her first victory in two years.
"We were so hungry for the win," Shin said.
And that desire affected both during the playoff, especially on the greens. Indeed, over the nine extra holes, neither made a birdie, extraordinary for such accomplished players — each has nine LPGA victories.
The longest PGA Tour sudden-death featured Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum at the 1949 Motor City Open. Tour officials declared them co-winners after 11 holes failed to break their tie.
No such foolishness here. This tournament and its fans deserved a champion.
"I could believe how many people were out there," Creamer said of a gallery that lined the tee box and the left side of the fairway, and later crowded onto the hill overlooking the 16th green. "I wasn't expecting that. …
"They love us here, and I love coming here," Creamer said. "I love this golf course, and when are we here, in May again? So hopefully I can do it then."
But first, a late Monday flight across the pond for the season's final major, at Royal Liverpool at Hoylake.
Creamer has three top-10 finishes in seven British Open appearances, including a third-place tie in 2009. She was also among the top 10 at the two most recent majors: the U.S. Women's Open and the LPGA Championship.
"I think just my overall demeanor out on the golf course is so much better," Creamer said. "I hate using the term 'the old Paula, the new Paula.' I'm the same person that I've always been, but just to have that little bit more fire inside me. …
"I think the biggest thing for me is I can see the difference. I can feel the difference just within myself out on the golf course and the confidence. What more could you ask for going into a major?"
If 2008 is any indication, expect Creamer on the leaderboard this week in England.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun