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June 9, 2015

Cristie Kerr


THE MODERATOR: Thank you for being here this afternoon, KPMG Women's PGA Championship. It's a great pleasure to have Rolex rankings No. 9 in the world Cristie Kerr, 17-time LPGA winner, and kind of a home game for you this week, as well, huh? This is pretty good.

CRISTIE KERR: A little bit.

THE MODERATOR: You spend some time in the New York area.

CRISTIE KERR: We do. We do. We've actually got really good friends that are members here and we've been up here a lot. If we ever relocate to Connecticut, I think that I've kind of thrown the rumor out there that I might join here.

THE MODERATOR: Have you gotten any insight on the golf course, and what are your first impressions of Westchester and this event?

CRISTIE KERR: Wow, I mean, being in the New York area, being in this area, which is such a golf town, you can't hope to be on a better golf course than this. I'm not just saying that because it's a little bit of a home game. I'm saying that because it is such a scenic, beautiful, tough as nails golf course that we deserve as a tour to be on. We are great players and it's great to be on a venue that has this much history to it.

THE MODERATOR: So let's take that to another level. You've been on Tour for a number of years and you've seen this tour through some ups and a little bit of downs, and a really good place where it appears to be now. Where are your thoughts on where this tour is and with majors like this, collaboration between KPMG, the LPGA, The PGA of America, to elevate majors?

CRISTIE KERR: I think we have definitely weathered the storm, so to speak. Back in the day right when Mike Whan took over the reigns of being Commissioner of our tour, he said it was going to be five to six years where we really started to see a difference, and he was spot on. He's been great with sponsors. He's helped us to be better as players, and I think that's one of the reasons why we're not only on this golf course but we have the relationship with KPMG and The PGA of America, all things are looking up for our tour.

THE MODERATOR: When you heard about this coming to be, what was your first reaction, knowing that there was a history in Rochester, one of the greatest golf markets that the LPGA has ever played and golf, period, major championships, on the men's tour. You have a great history there, as well, and then coming to something like this that raises the bar a little bit.

CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, definitely. Rochester is definitely one of our best markets to be in and it was definitely sad to leave it. So many fans there over 35 years of history, just a great golf town, as well, so many great golf courses with Locust Hill, Oak Hill, Monroe, Country Club of Rochester, etc., etc. And the Wegman's, really Colleen, and the rest of the Wegman family, really stepped up and saved our major that when they re-upped to keep that tournament going, and make the purse bigger, I think they always kind of knew it wasn't going to be forever. Everybody on this tour is sad to go but we also recognize the importance of playing on a golf course like this in a big metropolitan market on a big stage that really elevates our tour for more money, and that's the only way we're going to get the recognition as a tour that we deserve is to keep going forward; also, cherishing our history, but keep going forward.

Q. You mentioned golf course, metropolitan area. It's early in the week but is there anything else you've noticed that is noticeably different about this event from past years?
CRISTIE KERR: I think the energy. I think how excited the golfers on our tour are to play this golf course. It's quite a venue. I mean, the surrounding areas, everything is great. The feel of it; we feel like we're going to get huge crowds here and it's fun to play on a big stage. Not to say what we had before wasn't a big stage but like I said, there are certain things that you just feel are different that you feel will help move our tour forward, and I think everybody feels that this week.

THE MODERATOR: Can you take that a step further and talk about the buzz and what is it like to be out on the range? I know it's a major so everybody is really focused and at the same time this is new, fresh energy you've talked about. Are players walking up to other players? Do you have any examples of what's happened in a short time?

CRISTIE KERR: Just the energy. Everybody's worked really hard this week because it is such a tough challenging golf course. To even being in the player dining, you look up and Seve's picture is on the wall, Hale Irwin, all the greats, and then at the end there will be one female with the trophy up there, so that's really cool. That's ground-breaking. It's just a cool week like that.

Q. Is this relationship with The PGA of America something that the LPGA needed? Is "rescue" too strong of a term to sort of put on this relationship?
CRISTIE KERR: Oh, definitely, rescue is way too strong a term to put on it. I think it's more of a collaborative force. I think The PGA of America saw how much they needed us as much as we needed them and I think both have a common vision of elevating the women's game and that's kind of where we're at.

Q. Was there any hesitation or did everyone on Tour immediately realize that this was a great thing for everyone involved and everyone gets something out of it?
CRISTIE KERR: Like I've said before, I think we cherish the roots and the history that we have, and we also recognize the opportunity that it was to come here with a sponsor for a lot more money, and on this golf course, as well. Yeah, everybody understands that we need to cherish the relationships that we have had and have, but also at the same time, when we have opportunities like this, you can't pass them up.

THE MODERATOR: Coming into this week, Top-5 finish, I know you were right there and I know how you operate, you probably had some serious disappointment down the stretch.

CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I did. But I've been working really hard on my mental game and my golf swing, and honestly, it left me for three shots during that week and it all happened to be on the last three holes. It's unfortunate. But I just had a week in Atlantic City and saw my coach, Michael, and I said: I'm not going to get down about this; and I said, what do I have to learn to get better and I had a great week last week. I'm using that as a steppingstone to try to get better and get better with myself, and that's what I'm trying to do every day.

THE MODERATOR: Great message for the girls from Drive, Chip & Putt that are here in the front row.

Q. What are the specific challenges to this golf course and what makes it tough?
CRISTIE KERR: You just can't fall asleep on any shot out there. It's been a long golf course. The greens are very slopey. You have to be in control of how you're hitting it, where you're hitting it, how you position it into the greens. If you miss a green, you've got to miss it on the correct side, and I have to tell you, if you miss a shot, you make a bad swing, you have to kind of get lucky with where it goes to be able to save a shot. So it's just solid tee-to-green. You have to use every shot in the bag. There's some reachable par 5s. There's some par 5s where you may have to hit 3-wood off the tee just to not bring trouble into play to lay up for a third shot. So some of the greatest par 4s you'll ever see on this golf course. It's just awesome.

Q. About 15 years ago with the influx of the South Korean women coming over here and upping the competition on the Tour and creating what many perceived as a rivalry with the U.S., do you still see that there's a rivalry there, or have you been on Tour so long that it's just every week is everyone playing for themselves?
CRISTIE KERR: I think everybody's trying to play for themselves. Obviously if an American player is up there, we root for each other, the same as they would do. I don't see it as a black and white, Korean or American issue on our tour. We are a very global tour. We have over 50 countries represented, and I mean, may the best player win. I mean, everybody's just trying to do the same thing out here every week.

Q. In keeping with that line of thinking about the globalization of the game, throwing it forward, is the Olympics a matter of any focus and a goal?
CRISTIE KERR: 100 percent for me. I can't imagine a greater honor than playing for your country, not only in the Solheim Cup, but in the Olympics. We found out caddies get to say in the Olympic Village with us so that's even a plus. I mean, they are part of our team. So I'm trying to focus on it but try not to focus too much to put so much pressure on myself that it's an unattainable goal. Like I said, you have to break it down to every day, every hole, every shot, try to do the best you can and just try not to throw shots away just because it could come down to that in the end. It's a fine line, though. It's like how much do you focus, how much do you put pressure on yourself. I'm trying to go middle of the road.

THE MODERATOR: As a follow-up to that, knowing you've got Solheim Cup points to accumulate this year, International Crown points next year, it kind of takes care of yourself; if you're going to make the International Crown team, chances are you have a pretty good opportunity to make the Olympic Team, as well. So in a way it seems like those two things are out there working for you.

CRISTIE KERR: Like the saying goes, if you play well, everything else takes care of itself and I've been very fortunate to do that.

THE MODERATOR: One more from me. Along the lines of major championships in your career, you've won two major championships, I said 17 wins; maybe this isn't an accurate statement. So tell me I'm wrong; but it seems to me given where the game is today, with all the great players that are out there, that winning majors in this era at this point in your career would almost be more rewarding for you. How much do you think about majors at this point?

CRISTIE KERR: More rewarding for me rather than regular tournaments?

THE MODERATOR: When you won those majors earlier in your career, as a younger player, you've had a wonderful career, an unbelievably great career but do majors mean even more now given the talent level that you compete against each week.

CRISTIE KERR: I mean, I think they are always important. When I won The Open, I was head-to-head with Lorena Ochoa. When I won the LPGA Championship, everybody was in the field that week. I think when you're competing for a major, you're going to have the best field every week no matter what. I mean, certainly, with a lot more younger players, it's even that sweeter to get one at this point, yeah.

THE MODERATOR: To put your name on the trophy before you walk out of here from this press conference, with this week and this event and all you've said about how special this place is, how big would that be for Cristie Kerr?

CRISTIE KERR: It would be pretty amazing. But do I have to recognize that my golf course is my biggest -- what's the word --


CRISTIE KERR: -- opponent this week; challenge. It's the golf course. You have to handle the golf course. You can't really worry about any of the pressure of winning a major. The golf course is right in front of you. It's tough and you have to go beat the course in order to do that.

THE MODERATOR: Best of luck in accomplishing that goal and the goal of maybe holding that trophy this week. Cristie Kerr, thanks for being here.
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