(CNN) -- Paula Creamer defied the odds to win her first major trophy at the 65th U.S. Women's Open on Sunday after recovering from a career-threatening thumb injury.
The 23-year-old American thought she would never play golf again after aggravating her injured left thumb while playing in the season-ending LPGA Championship in Houston last year.
The win at Oakmont Country Club is even more impressive given that Creamer had surgery as recently as March and had to play through the pain in her thumb during the final day, when she played 23 holes due to earlier rain delays.
"You don't have surgery on your thumb and win a championship," she told reporters, quoted on the U.S.G.A. website. "I don't think the odds are very good after that.
"I had my surgery, and yes, there was a time before my surgery where I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I may never play golf again' or, you know, if the surgery goes wrong.
"But it was what I had to do, and here we are with a U.S. Open championship next to me. So it's been pretty cool."
Creamer, who had previously won eight LPGA Tour titles, went into her fourth tournament since the surgery far from 100 percent fit.
The Californian, who is limited to hitting mostly shots off a tee in practice, said her win shows how important the mental side is to the sport.
"I don't even think I'm 80 percent [fit]," she said. "Jeez, I've said this whole time I think I'm about 60.
"It just shows, you know, how much the mental side of golf can really take over. You know, I believed I could do this. I believed I could do this when I had a cast on my hand.
"That's what I just kept thinking about was Oakmont, Oakmont, Oakmont."
Creamer, nicknamed the "Pink Panther" because of her fondness for wearing the color, beat joint second-placed Na Yeon Choi of South Korea (66) and Norway's Suzanne Pettersen (69) by four strokes.
She completed her rain-delayed third round of 70 before carding a closing 69, at three-under for the tournament making her the only player to break par.
She was in tears after watching her final putt sink in the hole to end years of questions from the media as to whether the former teenage amateur star would ever win a major tournament.
Creamer became the first American to win the U.S. Open since Cristie Kerr in 2007 and the second after Meg Mallon's 2004 triumph.
"It's incredible, it really is," Creamer said. "It's been amazing.
"I've always thought of my career as I've always been a pretty solid player, but yes, that question always lurked: How come you never won a major?
"And now we have, and we never get to get asked that question again!"