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Cristie Kerr Ready for Debut at Senior LPGA Championship

By: Steve Eubanks 

HURRICANE, Utah - You’d never know she’s been away. As Cristie Kerr played a practice round on Tuesday at Copper Rock Golf Course before the start of the LPGA Senior Championship, she looked like the same player who won 20 times on the LPGA Tour including two majors. The shots, the ball flight, the intensity of her preparation, especially around the firm and fast greens at Copper Rock: Kerr could have easily been prepping for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open instead of her senior debut. 

Those who have followed her career would expect nothing less. Kerr never shows up for a pro-am or a Saturday morning fourball match without preparing. And she won’t put a tee in the ground if she doesn’t think she can win. 

Others at the Senior LPGA Championship know that. It’s one of the reasons Kerr was teased on Monday and Tuesday by several players who said, “I’m sorry Ms. Kerr, we’re going to need to see your ID, make sure you’re old enough to play in this event.”  

“I’m not that old,” Kerr said on Tuesday after grinding out another day of practice like she was prepping for a major. “I’m 46. And I’ve worked on my game a lot. I don’t have a lot of status on the LPGA Tour anymore. I have tournament-winner status which gets me into like two events if hall-of-famers don’t sign up. That’s a little frustrating. But I am playing the KPMG (Women’s PGA Championship) in three weeks so it’s good to be out here getting competitive reps. It would be great to have a little continuity. It’s hard to have eight months in between tournaments.” 

On that front, Kerr echoes a familiar theme. Every player in the field wants to play more, or at least have that option.

“The older players don’t get enough credit,” Kerr said. “They’re out here saying they wish they had more tournaments. I get it. It’s hard. I just don’t want them, and now me, to be forgotten. A lot of these players still have game. Wendy Ward is out here, Juli Inkster’s out there, Trish Johnson is out there, Sherri Steinhauer is out here. There are a lot of great players that people remember and want to see again who are out here, so I think it’s important that I start playing more out here to bring visibility and maybe attract more sponsors to have more tournaments. 

“There’s no reason we can’t have an event in Scottsdale. There are plenty of markets that would love to have these players. If there were more tournaments to play, people would keep themselves in playing shape. 

“The main thing I’m taking away from this week is that older girls want a place to play.” 

Many have other careers now. Ward has been a rancher in Washington State for decades. She’s just sold all the cattle and moved into Spokane where she teaches golf and trains dogs for agility competitions. 

Pat Hurst handles amateur relations and development for Acushnet. She was in New Jersey last week for the Mizuho Americas Open because of all the AJGA players in the field. 

Defending LPGA Senior Championship winner Angela Stanford continues to do outstanding work for Golf Channel/NBC when she’s on air. 

And, of course, Kerr has her wine business, Kerr Cellars, to which she devotes a lot of time and attention.  

“The wine business is tough, but we have a great partner with Constellation Brands,” Kerr said. “We’re poised for the next level. Sure, the wine business has been easier to balance because I’m not playing as much. But my heart is still in golf. When I work at my game and I play like I have the last couple of days, I say, ‘man, I want to play.’” 

She has worked hard. This could be the week.

“This is a really good golf course,” Kerr said of Copper Rock. “I had no idea what to expect. The EPSON Tour played here last week, and my friend Kelly Tan played and said it was fast and windy. She was right. It’s a little bit of a tricky golf course. It’s not very long, but if you try to be too aggressive, it could bite you. There’s a driveable hole but conditions would have to be perfect for me to go for that. You just have to hit fairways and greens, and if I can get on the greens, I have a chance. 

“It’s going to be a blast. It’s great to be back out here and see all the players I grew up admiring and wanting to emulate.” 

Then Kerr’s face grew serious and she leaned in. 

“This is a good venue. I’ve never won as a senior. This would be a great first for me.” 

Then she paused and said, “This one is very important.” 

1 Comment

May 22

I really think the Legends should play at their Headquarters in Daytona Beach once a year --- all who are old enough; not just the HOF players. Many of us who used to attend many of their events miss seeing them. Their personalities were/are greater than any who have followed them.

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