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Kerr Tops Leaderboard After First Round of LPGA Senior Championship

The top of the leaderboard after round one of the LPGA Senior Championship surprised absolutely no one. In her debut in any senior event, 46-year-old Cristie Kerr fired a near flawless six-under, 66 in windy and firm conditions to take an early four-shot lead. Kerr got her senior career off to a rousing start with an eagle on the first hole at Copper Rock Golf Course after finding the green on her second shot with a 7-iron from 197 yards on the downwind par-5. She made an eight-footer to start her round off two-under after one. 


“Yeah, it was bit firm out there and there was a little wind,” Kerr said afterward. “The ball just kept running.” 


She had three more birdies on the front nine along with a lone bogey after a poor iron shot on the par-4 sixth.


The round could have gone sideways after Kerr tugged her tee shot on the par-4 ninth into a deep bunker. Her only option was to blast out well short of the green. She then pitched to 12 feet and rolled her par putt into the center of the hole at a perfect speed.


“I’ve felt comfortable on the greens all week, and I’ve worked really hard on my game,” Kerr said after the round. “Sometimes those par saves are huge because they keep the momentum going.” 


After rolling in another birdie putt from 18 feet on 11, Kerr had another great save on 14. “I missed it in a terrible spot there,” she said. “I was just indecisive (on the approach shot). I’m like, ‘just hit it.’ But I left it well down below the green and hit an incredible flop shot there and made a putt for par. Then I birdied the next one.” 


Three pars closed out the round.


“It feels like I played my game, like I was selfish with how I wanted to execute,” Kerr said. “There were very few mental mistakes today. So it's nice to get a round under my belt and play the last couple holes in the wind because I think tomorrow is going to be really windy. But you know, just run through the finish line. That's my motto this week, right through the finish line. Just don't worry about what anybody else is doing. Just try to play every shot, every hole as best I can.”  


Defending champion Angela Stanford, Heather Bowie Young and Juli Inkster enter the second round tied for second at two-under par.


Stanford struggled with her ball-striking on the front nine and was visibly frustrated after making three birdies and four bogeys in her first 10 holes. But three birdies and some solid pars brought her back into red figures and the thick of the competition.


 “I don't know if I am proud finishing two-under (par) or angry for finishing only two-under,” Stanford said afterward. “It's really weird. I just can't believe how bad the front nine was. I never saw that this week. It's okay though, to get it in red numbers and know that I got two more days, it's good.”


Inkster admitted to battling the jitters early, which was remarkable for a 31-time LPGA Tour winner with seven major titles to her credit. “I birdied one, it was just to the right pin high, and I chipped up and made about a six-footer,” she said. “I was nervous. It's been so long since I've played a tournament.”


It didn’t take long for the competitive juices to flow again for the 63-year-old. She had three birdies and only one bogey after a poor iron shot on 10.


“I actually hit the ball really good today,” Inkster said. “I putted good, I just didn't make a lot, but I was really happy with the way I played. I mean, it's just so hard to judge the wind and the altitude and the air and trust your yardages. You’ve got 115, you're thinking sand wedge but it's hard, especially when you haven't done it in a while. But I drove the ball extremely well today. I didn’t miss a fairway, which is good out here. I hit some good irons but not as close as I wanted. You know, I missed some putts, but everybody has. I didn't miss any short ones, so that was good.”  


Inkster will play in the penultimate group on Friday with Crista Johnson and Wendy Ward, both of whom shot one-under 71, while Kerr will go out with Stanford and Bowie Young. 


Tee times begin at 9:00 a.m. local time.


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