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June 18, 2014

Cristie Kerr


MIKE TROSTEL: Welcome to the 69th U.S. Women's Open here at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club. It's a pleasure to welcome the 2007 U.S. Women's Open champion, Cristie Kerr, into the media center. Off to a good start in 2014, seven top 10 finishes in 11 starts this year, including a runner up finish at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic two weeks ago, with a final round 63. This year is Cristie's 19th U.S. Open appearance. You've had a lot of success in the Sandhills region, three times at Pine Needles, 1996 you were low amateur, tied for 4th in 2001, and obviously the win in 2007. Must be happy to be back playing in this area.

CRISTIE KERR: I definitely am. We had a wine event at Pine Needles for Curvature Wines on Monday. That was a great success. A lot of members, and friends came out for that. A lot of great memories in this area. I can't imagine a better place to go and play golf. It would be hard to play this golf course in this condition every day here. But there's so many great golf courses in the area. So glad to be back.

MIKE TROSTEL: And Pinehurst No. 2, we were talking a little earlier, is a very different type of golf course than you're used to seeing in the Women's Open, there's no rough, they have the native areas, the turtleback greens, what kind of strategy do you have this week to attack Pinehurst No. 2?

CRISTIE KERR: I think the term I'm going to use this week is conservatively aggressive. Because you can't play tentative, where you're going to hit bad shots, but you have to be conservative with your distance off the tees, the lines off the tees, the clubs you're hitting into greens, and the direction. So whatever you have, even if it's a conservative play, you have to be aggressive with what you have. So that's kind of my strategy this week. And to have absolute great touch on the greens and around the greens is a must if you're going to have a chance here.

Q. Could you just talk about the impact of winning in 2007, had on your career?
CRISTIE KERR: Oh, it was huge. I'd always dreamed of winning The Open as a little girl and watching it on TV. It was a moment that was a step forward in my career. The biggest moment at the time. But I also had to learn how to handle everything that came with it. And most of the time when somebody wins an Open, they definitely have a little lull in their career, and I did back then, as well, because you have to adjust your mindset. You have to -- you're now a Major winner and sometimes you feel like you need to reinvent the wheel, but you don't. So it was a huge moment for me. It made me grow. You have to look at everything that's going to help you get better.

Q. A lot was made about the course conditions, what they would be like coming into this week after the men. If you had a chance to talk to the superintendent and staff, what kind of things would you say to them about how they've done the course already for the second week?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, honestly, we dodged a lot of bullets last week. They could have had weather delays and all sorts of stuff could have happened. It didn't. So we got really lucky in that respect. My only advice would be, be careful not to lose the greens. You've still got to put enough water on them, so they're healthy, so when you hit a good shot you're rewarded; and that the golf course doesn't get ridiculously out of control, because with these high temperatures, they could. I thought they should be out syringing now. But I'm not a superintendent, and I'm not, obviously, Mike Davis, and how the championship is going to play. But it's definitely getting -- when we played on Monday it was crunchy and firm and fast. It's changed a little bit every day. I thought the greens this morning felt healthier to me. But as we played the practice round and it heated up out there, everything dried out like, seriously, in a snap. So they just have to be careful with that, because 156 people are going to be playing over the next two days. Forget the high temperatures and how much water they're going to put on the green, but in high traffic -- you think of the greens, how big they are, but they're not really that big, because they're about up a third of the size of what you're actually looking at. You have all those people in the same area on the greens and putting for par and birdie, that's going to dry it out even more on the flatter parts of the greens. They just need to be careful with that. I don't think the divots are going to be an issue, which was a lot of hype coming into this week. We really haven't found that. It's so dry out there in the fairways, even if you're in a divot, it's not very deep, so it's manageable. The native areas, the "stuff", they were calling it last week, that's going to play a lot tougher for us than it is for the men, like I wrote with Randall, the blog last week, we're hitting longer clubs out of it than the men are. We're not hitting down on it as much. So it plays tougher for us. The consensus is, they wanted us to hit the same clubs into the greens as the men. But I have to tell you, we're hitting longer clubs into the greens than the men and we don't spin it as much. So they may need to look at a little bit of the course setup for that. I was talking to Paula about that, and she agrees with me, as well.

Q. When the men and women are compared, it's usually a losing proposition for the women. But that's what this week is all about. What is your hope in how this week turns out for the women?
CRISTIE KERR: I don't think it's a losing proposition, I think we're better looking (laughter). Just kidding. You wonder if they'll ever do this again, back-to-back, Men's and Women's Opens. It's never happened before. I think it would only be fair if the women went first next time, to keep it even. I don't think it's a losing proposition for us. It's great to be at Pinehurst and playing this golf course. It seems to be playing similar, for the course condition, anyways, maybe not the length of the clubs we're hitting into the greens, it's playing similar for us as it did for them. In that sense I think the USGA will win out this week. They've just got to make sure, with stress on this golf course, over the second week, it could change a lot faster in the second week than the first week. They just need to keep that in mind.

Q. Did you see the resurgence in American women's golf coming, with Michelle Wie playing better --
CRISTIE KERR: Well, it's here. It's not coming, it's here.

Q. Did you see it coming, though, with Stacy and Lexi and Michelle Wie playing better? I guess, what are your thoughts on how that's impacted the game now and how it will impact the game in the near future?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I think it's huge for us. We're a global tour, but still we're based in the U.S. We, even when, you know, a lot of the Korean players were winning and Americans didn't seem to get a lot of wins under their belt, we knew we were close and we all collectively were like just supporting each other. We're really good. So, we weren't going to stay down for very long. Yeah, it's great to see Michelle Wie playing well again and myself and Paula to get a win this year. And it's very big for our tour that we do that. So it's great to see.

Q. Did you see the young players coming up, did you know this was going to happen?
CRISTIE KERR: Definitely. I can play a practice round with somebody and tell whether they're talented or not, whether they're going to be successful or not. I've been playing practice rounds with Michelle Wie since she's 12. It's good to finally see her elevating her game and getting in the mix. It's very good for our tour.

Q. I haven't talked to you since you became a mother. How has motherhood changed you?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I tape my left wrist, now, because I like to pick up my son with my left arm, and sometimes that bothers me. Geez, he's so healthy, knock on wood. He's 21 pounds, a little over six months. He's a bruiser. He's just so great. I think that I have a bigger perspective on a lot of things and I don't get as stressed out about the little stuff as much. It's just a lot of fun. You realize what's important in your life and what isn't. I feel like it's helping me to be a better golfer, as well.

Q. The women got to play St. Andrews last summer, played the U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont. Why is it important for the women to play these historic venues?
CRISTIE KERR: I think it's important because people need to see how good we are. Because I think a lot of people hold the men's tour and the men players in high regard. Yeah, we might not hit it as far, but we're every bit as good as they are. And we need to get the recognition for that, that we deserve. So we need to be on these big stages. This is what Mike Davis and the USGA has done this week is -- we're not only playing a great golf course, but we're also elevating the game more by playing on this great venue.

Q. There's been a lot of talk and conjecture about comparing the men and the women this week. But could you compare the difficulty of this setup to the traditional U.S. Open you've been used to?
CRISTIE KERR: A traditional U.S. Open setup, obviously, depends on the golf course, but this golf course is a beauty. I mean, there's a lot going on. You need to hit the ball in the fairway and you need to hit the ball on the green or in a place you can make par from. And there's a lot of movement and a lot going on around the greens. I think this is probably tougher than the average U.S. Women's Open golf course that we play. But I think the men would say that as well, for the golf course for them last week. You have to have full control of your game if you're going to win this week.

MIKE TROSTEL: We have talked a little bit about some other players games. How about your own game? You've had no wins this year --

CRISTIE KERR: People like to ask me a lot about other people.

MIKE TROSTEL: You had a bunch of top-10s. How is your own game? How are you feeling coming into this week?

CRISTIE KERR: I feel good. I feel like, mentally, I'm in a great place. I've been working with Dr. Parent again, from Zen Golf. And just working a lot of my own personal things, and trying not to get caught up in over controlling where a shot goes, trying to help it go somewhere, and then you make a bad swing, because you're not making your own normal swing. I feel like I've been playing great. I've got my Marksman back in my bag. I had a great putting week in Canada with it. I feel good. You've just got to get in the heat of the battle and be prepared for anything that comes at you this week.

Q. Are you viewed differently when you walk around as a U.S. Open champion?
CRISTIE KERR: I don't know. I can only tell you how I view myself. I feel different being a U.S. Open champion and I think having that under my belt for this week is going to help, because I was talking to Hollis Stacy about that last night, three-time U.S. Open champion, and she feels like someone who has won a U.S. Open before will win here, because of the experience and the patience it takes to be able to win on this golf.

MIKE TROSTEL: 1:47 off No. 1 tee on Thursday.

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