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Creamer wins SBS Open for third career tour victory

KAHUKU, Hawaii -- Paula Creamer put a frustrating second
season on the LPGA Tour behind her in a hurry in the season-opening
SBS Open.

The 20-year-old Creamer won her third LPGA Tour title and first
in 19 months Saturday, handling the whipping wind to hold off
Julieta Granada by a stroke.

"I haven't been there for a while but I remember every moment
of all my wins," Creamer said. "I know that you've just got to
finish the round and that's what I did. ... I knew I could do it."

Creamer closed with a 2-under 70 for a 9-under 207 total. In
2005 as a rookie, she won two LPGA Tour titles and also took two
tournaments in Japan.

"It is a little relief off my shoulders," said Creamer, who
earned $165,000. "I just hope it's a good season. I know I've
worked hard and hopefully I'll be standing here a couple more
times."

Conditions were challenging at Turtle Bay's oceanside Palmer
Course, with occasional showers and tradewinds that shook the
players' pony tails and nerves. Only nine of 83 players finished
below par.

Granada, who won the season-ending ADT Championship and helped
give Paraguay its first Women's World Cup title last month, shot a
69.

Karrie Webb closed with a 70 to finish third at 6 under. LPGA
player of the year Lorena Ochoa, coming off a six-win season, was
another stroke back along with Janice Moodie (72) and 18-year-old
Morgan Pressel (74).

Granada holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th to tie
Creamer for the lead at 8 under. But Creamer, playing in the final
group, regained the lead by sinking a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 17
that went left, then veered to the right at the end.

"I saw the line and it went in," she said. "It wasn't one of
those kind of putts that you expect to go in. You just want to get
it close."

She smiled, hopped twice and shook her fist as the gallery
cheered. Granada, meanwhile, signed autographs as she waited for a
possible playoff.

Creamer, however, safely reached the 18th green in three and
two-putted for par from 15 feet for the victory. She smiled and
chomped the shaft of her putter.

"He's very important, so you have to give a little love and
affection," Creamer said about her putter.

Creamer pulled away with a strong front nine with four straight
birdies starting on No. 4, but ran into trouble on the back side.

"It was a roller coaster," she said. "I can't even explain
it. I was so up-and-down out there."

With composure and a comfortable cushion, Creamer seemed to have
the tournament wrapped up. But the Pink Panther sliced her drive
into the marsh and wound up with a double bogey on the 396-yard
11th and missed a 3-foot par putt on 13, stumbling to 8 under. But
she managed to hang on to sink the dramatic putt on 17.

Creamer said she was "kind of rusty," being the leader.

"I think that's why things were going all over the place. I
haven't been there for a while," she said.

It was Creamer's first LPGA Tour victory since her eight-stroke
win in France in the 2005 Evian Masters. She ended that year second
to Annika Sorenstam on the money list and earned rookie of the year
honors.

Creamer said this was the biggest win for her emotionally after
being shut out last year and knowing how hard she worked in the
offseason.

Last season, Creamer had 14 top-10 finishes, including a
second-place tie at the LPGA Tournament of Champions, and crossed
the $1 million mark to set an LPGA record for the most money earned
in a season without a victory.

With her mother, Rosa, on the bag, Granada holed her 9-iron
second shot from 150 yards for eagle on the 394-yard seventh hole,
shooting up the leaderboard and leaving a wide-eyed smile on her
face.

"I read the break," she said.

She fell six strokes off the pace with three-putt bogeys on Nos.
8 and 10, but birdied Nos. 12 and 15 to pull within a stroke of the
lead. She also just missed a 10-foot birdie putt on 17, set up by a
strong 7-iron shot from 162 yards.

"My bogeys were kind of dumb, but other than that I'll take
it," Granada said. "I gave her a run."

Granada said she is confident with her recent strong
performances.

"It's a huge difference now," she said. "I'm thinking, 'Let's
go out and win,' instead of 'Let's try to get in the top 10."'

Creamer began the round tied for the lead with Sherri Steinhauer
and Pressel, who was vying to supplant Creamer as the youngest
winner of a full LPGA Tour event.

South Korea's Hee-Won Han, who won two events last year, closed
with a 74 to finish at 4-under 212. Steinhauer (76) and Stacy
Prammanasudh (70) tied at 3 under.

The tour now moves from the North Shore to the west side of the
island for next week's Fields Open.