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July 1, 2007

Cristie Kerr


RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, our 2007 United States Women's Open champion, Cristie Kerr. How does that sound?
RHONDA GLENN: Cristie, yesterday when you finished and we were out on the flash area with the lightning flashing around us, you said that it was more important to you to correct your swing than it was to win the Women's Open. But the reaction I saw after you holed out on 18 today, do you want to adjust that a little bit?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah. Well, no, I'm still trying to fix it all the way through 18. Just kind of up and out with my posture and hitting right and didn't feel good, but I kind of hit it where I needed to hit it.
You've got to be able to win in all different kinds of ways. You can't always win when you're playing perfectly. So I was able to muddle this one out.
RHONDA GLENN: What does it mean to you to win here?
CRISTIE KERR: It's been a dream of mine since I was a little girl practicing six foot putts on really, really long greens, I might add, not greens like U.S. Open greens, just practicing holing those putts to win the U.S. Open.
RHONDA GLENN: Your name, of course, is on the trophy with some of the greatest players of all time, with the Babe, Patty Berg, Mickey Wright, Betsy Rawls, Annika Sorenstam, does that mean something special to you?
CRISTIE KERR: Absolutely. To be on the trophy having my name on the trophy next to those unbelievable champions is something you never forget.

Q. You just birdied 3 and then on 4 you couldn't see your ball. How did you escape --
CRISTIE KERR: In the rough, you mean?

Q. In the Bermuda rough. I know you have a lot of background there. How did you escape that and how important was that?
CRISTIE KERR: It was definitely critical. It was kind of a bad lie, but playing in the Bermuda I think I might have had the advantage, because I can judge how the ball is going to come out.
The only place I can't hit it is in the cross bunker. If I hit it left or on the green, you have to take more club out of those lies and let it come out low. And I hit a great shot on the green. That was critical to get the momentum swung in the right way.

Q. I wonder if you could take us through the birdie at 14, please?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I think it really started at 12, to be quite honest. That was the time when I got the most fed up with my golf swing, hitting it right, up and out of my posture. And I said, well, my practice swings that were working this morning aren't working now. I had to find another way to start the ball on line.
I just did something a little different. I hit a great shot on 13, almost made birdie, kind of misread the putt.
14, I striped the drive and that iron shot into the green I said, "I'm getting this ball on the green. I'm getting a chance at birdie. I'm hitting first", which can put -- if you hit a good shot can put some pressure on the other person.
I ended up hitting an unbelievable shot and making an unbelievable putt.

Q. Shot with what?

Q. What was the distance?
CRISTIE KERR: 4-iron I want to say -- I'm trying to think, the pin was like nine on, so probably had 181 to the front, 190 to the pin, maybe. I might be off by a few yards, but that's pretty close, kind of bouncing into that green.

Q. There was a story line a few years ago about what happened to all the American golfers, when the Annikas and Karries were dominating. When the focus did shift to the Americans of Paula and Morgan, it seemed like you were sometimes left out. I don't know if you felt that way, even though you had more wins. How good does it feel to get your face front and center?
CRISTIE KERR: It feels terrific. I think it's not a bad thing for the media to focus on the great, young American talent. It's going to do nothing but grow the sport. I wish I could say I'm one of the younger ones, but I've been -- I'm not old by any stretch of the imagination, but I think that them focusing on that age genre helps to grow the game of golf. And definitely in the U.S. Every year more and more cute young amateur girls with ribbons in their hair coming up. It's terrific (laughter). You see them every U.S. Open, like, "Wow, there's so many young girls here."

Q. You never felt slighted?
CRISTIE KERR: I don't know if slighted was the right word. Maybe overlooked a little bit. But the media is the media and they'll write what they want to write. I know in my heart of hearts who I am and how many wins I have and what I've done. And that's good enough for me. You guys will write what you want to write.

Q. You changed it today.

Q. Pointing towards this tournament since the end of last year, what in particular about this golf course suits your game?
CRISTIE KERR: Just the whole area of Pinehurst. It's just a very special place to come to play golf. I've always loved the layout of this golf course. It's always challenged me. It's always -- even if I haven't hit it great in certain rounds, I've always had to work really hard on my short game.
It's a challenge for me. It fits my eye. I'm comfortable here. Every time I've come here I've done well. Peggy Kirk Bell and her involvement in the course and the tournament is just so special. I've just been honored to play here every time I've come and I just look forward to returning to this tournament this year. I just knew I was going to win. I know that's kind of odd to say, but I just knew it.
RHONDA GLENN: When did you know it?
CRISTIE KERR: I knew since the last time I came here, years and years and years ago, that the next time I came here that it was going to be my week. I know that's very odd to say. You think that and you're like, "Yeah, okay", you think that. But when I stepped on the grounds this week it was just magic.
RHONDA GLENN: You felt that throughout the week?
CRISTIE KERR: Throughout the week. And I felt like no matter what happened or how bad I hit it or how good I hit it I just knew I was going to be able to muddle it out.

Q. Relatively speaking it's not been your best season so far. Any reason for that? Any reason that you managed to turn it around this week?
CRISTIE KERR: You know, I think my golf swing, for one. When I was a kid I used to get way across the line and had to save it kind of coming down. I kind of got a little bit more towards that. I've had three or four great years. I got married. I kind of took myself for granted a little bit.
So that kind of caught up to me with my game. You can't just expect to come out here and just because you are who you are, or whoever you think you are, to be able to play well. You have to work harder than you've ever worked to be able to stay on top. I kind of took myself for granted a little bit.
I'm glad I got married and I'm allowed to do that. Then I kind of woke up and said, "Hey, U.S. Open is only two months away, I've got to get my game in shape."
I started having a little bit more success. As of late, I had a good tournament in Korea and finished third in South Carolina. Didn't play tremendously well at McDonald's, but shot 6-under the last day to finish 18th.
So all the work has paid off. I still have a lot of hard work to do on my game. It's nice to know that it never ends.
RHONDA GLENN: You're married now. You won the U.S. Women's Open. Are you in a pretty good place in your life, would you say?
CRISTIE KERR: Yes. I'm still not happy that my dog chews up stuff (laughter). He's a little devil. But that's the beautiful thing about life and about golf. You play golf like you live your life. I've always been a very passionate person about everything I've done, whether it was my weight loss, which I'd like to take a couple of pounds off now, by the way. My weight loss or my golf or my charity or somebody else's charity, whatever I've done, I've done it 150 percent. It's nice to be on top right now.

Q. You mentioned as a little girl dreaming of this. Could you recall back when you first started? I think I recall reading it was at 8. Your first round, do you recall what you shot and how quickly did you progress from that point?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, pretty quickly. I shot 123 in my first round where I counted everything. It was so frustrating. Yes, shooting 123 would be frustrating.
I progressed, all the way through junior and amateur golf. I won a lot of junior tournaments and a lot of amateur tournaments. I thought I was going to go to college. I never played in the U.S. Amateur. I thought I was going to go to college. It was a quick decision to go pro. I always regretted not playing the U.S. Am, I won the Western, the Carter Hall, I won The Sallie, a lot of tournaments. But I've always regretted not playing in the U.S. Am.
RHONDA GLENN: You were low amateur here just 11 years ago.
CRISTIE KERR: Oh, God, thanks for pointing that out.

Q. There's obviously a lot of focus on the Majors. Were you at all putting any measure on yourself to get one? Especially in the last couple of years now that you've been winning more?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I think you definitely -- there's a natural progression between winning and winning a lot of tournaments and when are you going to win a Major.
I definitely wanted to win one this year. My game took a little bad turn. I had to work hard just to get back in contention.
So I think a lesson is learned that winning is a result of the things that you do, not just winning. You have to do a lot of things right to win a golf tournament, especially a Major, which is only four every year.
And the U.S. Open has always been the one I wanted to win the most. So that's even more rare. So you have to kind of look at all the things that I did, all the little things, working on my swing, my putting, getting a new putter, chipping, everything has to be better. It's a natural progression to kind of hitting the climax this week.

Q. You bogeyed 8 which is actually one of the more birdieable holes on the course. What did you do after that to regroup and move on and put yourself in position to regain control had on the 14th?
CRISTIE KERR: I'm glad I hit one left. I hit it in the bunker, and up there I'm like, that's so stupid to hit it in there because you can run it off the slope right-to-left. I had been hitting it right all day. So I am just a little right of it, figuring I was going to hit it over there. I pulled it into the bunker.
I hit an unbelievable bunker shot to save par. I hit a good putt, didn't make par, but that's the U.S. Open. You're going to make some bogeys, even if you make good swings.
So I just -- the save at 10 was absolutely crucial. We all kind of hit a bad tee shot, Lorena hit it left and had to punch out. She hit it in the worst place you could hit it, had a pitch out sand wedge.
I hit a bunker shot that was good, just didn't quite run out enough. And I don't really remember how long that putt was, maybe 12 feet. That was absolutely crucial because it kept me in there and it kept me fighting. Those putts that go in at crucial times, people don't understand how big they are.

Q. You used the term muddling, I know the first couple of rounds you did a lot of battling, the early double bogey. Can you talk about hanging in early. Secondly, what did you feel was the strongest part of your game this week?
CRISTIE KERR: I'll answer the second part first: Putting by far. I probably didn't give enough credit to how I hit the ball, because I did hit a lot of greens this week. I had a great round in the third round. But putting absolutely saved me. It kept the momentum going.
I can't remember a week where I've ever walked in more putts from five or six, seven, eight feet from the hole, just going like that, like Jack Nicklaus, knowing they're in. That's not normally my move, but it is now. What was the first question?

Q. Just battling early on when things weren't at their best.
CRISTIE KERR: Battling, especially when your game is not quite where you want it to be, that battle that you win within yourself is -- if you win that battle, it's about as good as it gets. It doesn't matter how good you're hitting it, you always find a way to make it work.

Q. In the course of your life you've remade yourself. You've made yourself into a Major champion. What's your next project? What's possible for you?
CRISTIE KERR: My next project?

Q. Yes.
CRISTIE KERR: My next project? Well, I'm kind of reinventing myself all over again because -- it's funny, you guys don't know what happened on Thursday. But I was playing at 7:30 and I kind of bent down to put something in my bag and my knee kind of -- I get tendonitis in my knee, because they took a graft from my patella tendon. I got up and it hurt.
I walked to the fitness van and it started hurting more. I took a step up on the stairs to the fitness van, and I about collapsed. It hurt so bad. I was in the fitness van. I was crying. I didn't think I was going to be able to play. I was absolutely upset.
I took Advil. They iced it. And once it started warming up it started feeling better. But tendonitis is a funny thing, but I've never had it feel that bad. I couldn't walk on it when I got in the fitness trailer. I couldn't put pressure on it.
This happened in 1993 or 4, when I was 14 years old. So I get tendonitis in it every now and then -- I forget the question. I kind of rambled off. Reinventing myself. So that was kind of a wake-up call for me.
I've put on seven or eight pounds from when I was most fit. I'll attribute it to being married and being on a honeymoon. But I'm ready to get focused on my fitness again and working really, really hard on my golf. Just being happy.

Q. I think in your first seven years on Tour you had one win. In the last four you've had nine. Have you figured something out?
CRISTIE KERR: Just had a lot more confidence in myself. I've become the player that I've always wanted to be and envisioned myself being. If you envision something and you work hard enough at it and you're blessed enough from God to have the talent then you can do it.

Q. With your passion and your intensity I'm wondering what emotions were kind of rolling through you as you walked up the fairway at 18 and then going through the last couple of putts to step over the threshold into Major Championship?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, walking to 18 tee I just walked slow. I tried to kind of catch my breath. I mean, I did feel like a guppy out there, gasping for breath. I took a lot of deep breaths out there. That's normal. That happens.
And I hit a decent tee ball on 18. I had a short club in. I just told my caddie, "Go like this, feel my heartbeat." He said, "That's the way it's supposed to be." It was beating fast.
I just took a lot of deep breaths. I just hit it on the green. I just knew from there, I just didn't want to putt it off the green, like I almost did in the second round, and avert disaster.
I wanted to lag it up there and tap it in. When I hit it up there close I had known that I had won, basically. I did very well this week at not taking anything for granted, not even if it was the last little putt to win. You never know what could happen.
It was hard to fight back the tears because I had envisioned this since I was a little girl.

Q. Could you tell us how you settled on this putter? In getting a new putter, did you hit putts on grass, on carpet?
CRISTIE KERR: I was in Korea at a tournament. They had a bunch of them in the pro shop. I took four or five out and whatever felt the best.

Q. Did you make any adjustments or changes in your putting stroke?
CRISTIE KERR: No, I've never done that. I've been a very natural putter my whole life. Very good putter my whole life. This putter is about maybe a half inch shorter than my other ones, which allows my arms to hang better, more comfortable, but that's about it.
I took it to the practice putting green the night before the final round in Korea, which was the week of the Sybase, so I've had it two months, six weeks.

Q. Can you look ahead to the next major and St. Andrews, do you know anything about St. Andrews?
CRISTIE KERR: I do. Being U.S. Open Champion going over there and playing in that historic place, where, correct me if I'm wrong, there's never been a women's tournament before. That's going to be a very special week for me.

Q. Have you been there?
CRISTIE KERR: I have not been there.

Q. Have you been to Scotland?
CRISTIE KERR: Yes, I've been to Scotland many times. I've played at Turnberry. I played in the British Isles a lot. That kind of golf I absolutely love. I think it's a lot of fun.

Q. Morgan was pretty distraught today about the way she played. Did you have anything to say to her in the trailer afterwards? If not, as a person who came real close to winning this tournament a lot of times before finally winning it, do you have any advice for her?
CRISTIE KERR: She's one of my very best friends and she was a bridesmaid at my wedding. We had a terrific group playing Sunday the final round. You always want to see the people that you love play well. She's like a sister to me.
It's disappointing, but I know how good she is. I know how much fire and passion she has. I said to her in the trailer, "Thank you for being there for me, I'll be there for you when you win." And she said, "You were, this year at the Kraft." And I said, "No, for the U.S. Open."
But she's very emotional. I think she's learning how to handle that better. When I was 18 I could tell you I was just like her. Maybe that's why we get along. She's a very, very special person.

Q. I know it's a national championship and Fourth of July week, I'm guessing that outfit was not by accident or are you clearing out old Solheim Cup stuff?
CRISTIE KERR: I got dressed in the dark so -- I'm kidding. Yes, it was planned. Solheim Cup, it's going to be a good week. It's going to be fun. Getting to play on a team with the people you play against day in and day out is going to be pretty exciting.

Q. What were you expecting out of Lorena down the stretch and was it more meaningful having won this U.S. Open going head-to-head with her?
CRISTIE KERR: Absolutely. Lorena and I are good friends. It was a very special three-some, three-ball that we played the fourth round, because we all really respect each other a whole lot and really like each other.
I flew down to this tournament with Lorena. Her friend had a big jet from Rochester, we flew down together. And she's probably going to fly over to The British Open with me from Evian. It was very special. That birdie on 13, that really kind of set the tone for things -- on 14, rather.
When she hit it in the bunker on 15 and she kind of hit it over there, that was an unbelievable par on 15 that she made. I don't think people realize how good that is. It forced me to stay in there. I knew Angela was close.
But going head-to-head with Lorena and beating her, I mean, she's going to win plenty of tournaments and plenty of Major Championships. This is a first for me. It was special memories. It's stuff you can't make up. You can't make this stuff up. These are things you take to the grave and you just smile about.

Q. As we go forward, as a U.S. Women's Open champion now, there's going more demands on your time, more media responsibilities. Are you aware of this? How do you plan to deal with it?
CRISTIE KERR: I think I've always done pretty well with managing my time and the expectations that are put on me. I'm the kind of person that knows when to say, "No, no, that's enough." But being very accommodating as much as I can, that keeps me sane, anyways.
I'll do the best I can with that stuff. I'm just glad to be sitting in the chair with this trophy. I respect you guys a whole lot and don't overlook me anymore (laughter). I'm kidding. I was being sassy.

Q. With as difficult a start as your career was out here and how you had to reinvent yourself, how do you think that shapes what you think of your accomplishment and reaching this mountain top, everything that you've overcome and done to get here?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, when I first came out on Tour, my first year was pretty bad, actually. My parents got divorced. I've always been the kind of person that has not handled family stress very well. I can handle the golf stress and all that goes along with that. My parents getting divorced, who am I going to live with, I'm going on Tour, my dad is caddying for me, oh, my God, all that stuff.
I had a really bad first year and had to go back to Q-School. And since then I've never looked back. Since then I've got a lot of experience, finished second a lot, got my first win, and now I'm U.S. Open Champ and that's all in 30 seconds.

Q. You said that your dog does not obey --
CRISTIE KERR: Where is my dog? He should be here. He's really cute, Bailey.

Q. But apparently your golf ball listens to you. Was there a time today that your golf ball didn't do what you told it to?

Q. I know you talked it in on 14?
CRISTIE KERR: On 14, the putt?

Q. Yes.
CRISTIE KERR: That was going in whether I told it to or not. I'm very lucky. It tends to listen to me. Sometimes it doesn't, but if you yell loud enough I think it hears you.
That's what Morgan and I have in common. We talk to the ball a lot. It's just a passionate thing to do. Maybe some people find it annoying, but we can't help it.
My dog, on the other hand, does not listen to me. He's very stubborn, very.

Q. Americans have won two Majors this year for the first time since 2000. I'm wondering what your thoughts were on that, since this is the first time that the Americans were actually out numbered by internationals?
CRISTIE KERR: That's pretty good. The same watch company, Audemars Piguet, we were in a big ad. We feel like we're a part of a club. I think the American game is healthy and growing. And I think this is a tell tale of things to come.
RHONDA GLENN: Once again, wonderful, Cristie, congratulations to you and I hope you enjoy it.
CRISTIE KERR: Thank you.

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