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An article on Da Laydeeez

Kilted Arab

Well-Known Member
Apr 30, 2005
1,202
4
By JERRY POTTER
USA TODAY
Paula Creamer is no ordinary teenager.
She's a champion golfer, a player who earned a professional victory
before she graduated from high school and $1.5 million by the time she
finished her rookie year on the LPGA tour last season.
When she talks, the conversation usually is about her career.
``My main goal is to win a major championship,'' says Creamer, 19.
``I want to be consistent and be in contention every week.''
There's nothing unusual about those goals, but as the LPGA opens
its season Thursday at the SBS Open in Hawaii, there is a lot more
going on than just golf for Creamer and a few other players who figure
to be the future of women's golf.
Maybe for the first time in the organization's history, the LPGA
has a group of young, talented players capable of making an impact in
the business of golf. Among those are Morgan Pressel, who represents
Callaway Golf, and Michelle Wie, who represents Nike.
Creamer represents TaylorMade-Adidas Golf, which provides shoes,
clothes and clubs, and Bridgestone, which provides golf balls. In all,
she has six companies paying her to represent them, everything from
golf shafts to sunglasses.
At the PGA Merchandise Show last month in Orlando, Creamer spent an
afternoon, going from one of her sponsors to another, giving
interviews, signing autographs, posing for pictures and smiling a lot.
``I think the appeal of the LPGA has broadened,'' says Dan Murphy,
senior director of marketing for Bridgestone Golf. ``We compare it to
tennis when the Williams sisters brought a lot of attention to their
sport.''
'Exposure and excitement'
The LPGA has had talented players in the past, especially in the
late 1970s and into the '80s when Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel, Pat
Bradley and Betsy King were forging Hall of Fame careers. Lopez was
the most popular, and she was the one who got the most endorsement
contracts. None of them sold a lot of golf equipment, clubs and balls,
the staple of the industry.
In 2002 Titleist, the industry leader in golf balls, dropped full
sponsorship of all LPGA players, including star Karrie Webb. The
company still sponsors players, but only for ball, shoe and glove
contracts.
Larry Dorman, who wrote about the players in the '70s and '80s
before joining Callaway Golf, believes this group has two things that
make the players good representatives for a golf company.
``If you do a survey on what moves product, it's exposure and
excitement,'' says Dorman, Callaway's senior vice president for global
public relations. ``There's a real good chance there will be
excitement on the LPGA this year.''
Callaway recently signed Pressel, 17, who has great promise as a
player and a penchant for speaking plainly. She begins her rookie
campaign Thursday and already has said that Wie, the most popular of
these teenagers, should have to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open.
Wie, 16, got an exemption last year, and the USGA might give her
another this year.
Wie has signed a lucrative contract with Nike, which is expected to
use her in worldwide marketing, especially in Asia, once she finishes
school and begins playing golf full time.
Wie plays her first LPGA event of the season next week at the
Fields Open in Hawaii.
``We believe these players can create brand awareness,'' says Cindy
Davis, general manager of Nike Golf in the USA. ``There has been an
evolution of women in sports in general. Their acceptance has changed
dramatically in the last 20 years.
''These are young vibrant athletes who have a lot of energy and
confidence that they can play,`` says Davis, who played college golf
at Furman before going into the business world. ''That excitement
drives TV ratings and produces opportunities.``
Davis says the current crop is different from players who came onto
the tour 25 years ago. ''They're more developed,`` she says. ''They're
more athletic, and their skills are more refined.``
Dorman and Davis believe these players have to be considered on the
world stage, especially Asia, where male amateur golfers tend to
pattern their games more after the professional women.
Callaway has had Sweden's Annika Sorenstam, the No. 1 player, under
contract since 1995. She makes millions in her endorsements and
appearances around the world.
''We tend to get parochial here,`` Dorman says. ''Women's golf has
never been as strong as it is today. I think the interest is the
combination of an international superstar (Sorenstam), playing at the
peak of her career against these young players.``
Much in demand
At the heart of this is Creamer, the daughter of an airline pilot.
She was trained to be a pro golfer, and she has won at every level.
She likes the color pink and likes to be called ''The Pink Panther.``
Her pleasant personality and easy smile keep her from appearing
arrogant.
At the PGA show in Orlando, fans circled an equipment booth and
waited in line just to get her autograph. She smiled through every
request, always writing her name legibly so fans could read it, a
lesson she learned from Arnold Palmer.
Amber Johnson, whose husband runs a golf club in Duncan, Okla.,
wanted two autographs - for daughter Amanda, 11, and son Brad, 14.
''Amanda loves her so much,`` Johnson says, ''that she wears pink
every day. Brad thinks she's beautiful.``
Creamer is taking a step toward the elite class that Palmer ruled.
He was respected by men and loved by women. Creamer is respected by
women and loved by men.
''Paula's appeal for us is that she's a strong player,``
Bridgestone's Murphy says. ''The elements of performance and
competitiveness are her appeal.``
Bridgestone's executives believe there's a growing market among
female golfers. Last fall they introduced golf balls in pastel colors,
including pink, to attract those women. Murphy didn't say he had
Creamer in mind, but he did say she's going to be part of a marketing
campaign to sell the balls.
That will include print ads and possibly a TV commercial. He won't
confirm a premium ball will be made in pink for Creamer. But, like a
true spokeswoman, when asked about the ball, Creamer smiled and said,
if Bridgestone makes her a performance ball in pink, she will play it.
''I want to be someone who changes women's golf,`` Creamer says.
If she can persuade middle-age American men to play the equipment
she plays, then she'll have changed golf more than she could have
imagined.


Middle-aged men? That you, Sling? :)
 

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