By Mike Dougherty
HARRISON – Paula Creamer looked up from a putt on the ninth green, watched the ball travel, made a quick note in the yardage book when it slid off line, turned away from the hole and hit another.
Getting ready for a major event requires additional time and effort.
Creamer was at Westchester Country Club on Monday and Tuesday, previewing the West Course in advance of next month’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. It was a logical stop before heading down the New Jersey Turnpike for this week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic outside Atlantic City.
And there was a lot of new ground to cover.
“It’s a huge event for us,” said Creamer, whose first LPGA win came nearby at Wykagyl Country Club. “It’s a major and you take the same approach as you would for a U.S. Open or a British Open. This golf is every bit as major worthy. It’s one of those things where you gotta come out and feel comfortable, that way, when you’re here during the week, you don’t have to practice quite as much and you can focus more around the greens.”
Suzann Pettersen and Morgan Pressel were also on hand Tuesday, getting a head start.
At least 40 players came to Westchester Country Club in the last week familiarizing themselves with the Walter Travis design that will be playing as a 6,670-yard par 73 during the championship.
“It played great,” said Pressel, who has five LPGA wins. “I think you could play the tournament here tomorrow, the course is in that great of shape. … I always like to come to a golf course I don’t know in advance, especially for a major, so I know a little more of what to expect come tournament week. I think my caddie and I developed a decent game plan, and then come the practice days we can worry more about the greens and things like that.”
A number of changes have been made to the course since it hosted the Senior Players Championship four years ago, but continues to place a premium on shot-making.
“Short of the hole and middle of the green are never going to hurt you,” said Pettersen, whose 14 LPGA wins include the 2007 LPGA Championship. “I’m sure the rough is going to be a bit thicker, the greens are going to be a bit faster. There are going to be a lot of challenges here, but it’s definitely a second-shot golf course. The greens are everything.
“I like it. … The majors should be tougher. We just talked about it, when you got on the flight Sunday after the championship here, you should be exhausted because that’s just what this course will do to you. I look forward to it.”
There is plenty of activity off the fairways, too.
A large hospitality suite is being constructed to the left of the 18th green for KPMG and the entry pavilion is taking shape. Scoreboard locations have been marked, and grandstands will be going up next.
“I’ve been here for two days, and the members have come up and are just so excited to have us out here,” said Creamer, who also consulted former Buick Classic winner Lee Janzen on the ups and downs of the West Course. “It’s a nice place to come to, especially with the history and tradition behind it. We’re pleased to be here, and this golf course is just fun, it’s fun to play.”