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April 22, 2008

Cristie Kerr


KIM BERARD: Thank you everyone for coming, and thank you, Cristie, for giving us some time this afternoon. We know it is a really special week for you being from Miami and coming back here. I know you've got a lot the family and friends coming up to see you this week.
We know you've got great charitable connections to the area, too, with your Birdies for Breast Cancer initiative, which is great.
I also just heard that you this year are going to be inducted into the Greater Miami, I think, it's the Sports Hall of Champions, which is a wonderful honor. I know it's a big thing in Miami, so congratulations on that.
Just tell us a little bit about what it's like to be here this week.
CRISTIE KERR: It's great to be back in Miami. I don't think I've played a competitive golf tournament here since we had the Office Depot Tournament at Doral I think it was at least six, seven years ago.
So it's nice to be back and around my friends and family I don't get to see that often, you know, on a golf course which has changed a lot since I played in the AJGA Raymond Floyd Junior Classic here a long, long time ago here, in '94 maybe. I won that AJGA tournament on the tournament course, but it looks almost nothing like it did back then. I was trying to remember what the course looked like and I had trouble. There's only one hole on the back 9, maybe 14 or 15 that looks remotely similar.
It's great. We do, with our Birdies for Breast Cancer initiative give money for the coalition. They have a van to goes around and does the mammograms. We have ties to Florida Hospital as well, which is here, and also in Orlando. So it's just good to be back.
I went to Joe Stone's Crab last night, so I should be set for the week.
KIM BERARD: It's obviously a very unique event. A different format, a little refresher in the middle of our season. Just talk a little bit about what your plans are for the week with the new format.
CRISTIE KERR: Sure. Like you said, it is a different format. It's kind of humorous to see the amateurs playing practice rounds with us and us playing through some amateurs and just getting to meet some people.
You know, I think I will be the kind of player that will really enjoy this kind of format. I'm very sociable in the Pro-Ams we play every week on tour. In tournaments I'm obviously going to be a little bit more intense once the competition starts, but I am sure my playing partner will be as well.
So the Pro-Am format, like the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Stanford financial has modeled this tournament after that as far as format goes, so it should be interesting.
KIM BERARD: We'll start taking some questions.

Q. How has it gone for you so far this week in terms of ticket requests and the home obligation thing?
CRISTIE KERR: There have been a lot of ticket requests, but Blake Ulrich, tournament director, has been great in accommodating whatever I've needed, you know, for that. It's been, you know, it's been fine so far this week.
I took yesterday off. I'm playing the next eight weeks in a row. Actually, this is my second out of eight weeks in a row, so I'm just trying to manage my time and give my body a rest on the Mondays instead of going out and beating balls and practicing or playing.
I am trying to get mentally refreshed for each week and trying to have the right attitude going into each week, especially with the long stretch of tournaments.

Q. Is it hard trying to balance being the hometown hero here and seeing so many people you know, and yet once you're between the ropes and the tournament starts you've got to be all business?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah. You definitely have to be all business once you step into the ropes. You know, that's my office. You know, people -- I think people, some people -- it's only Tuesday morning, mind you, and some people that I haven't seen in a very long time have come out of the woodwork a little bit.
You try and give them a little piece of time, but at the same time, I'm trying to prepare for this golf tournament the best I can. You know, you do the best you can with it.

Q. You have a primary residence in, is it New York? Where is your primary residence?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I have a home here in Miami that I try and spend as much time at as possible. When I'm done, through playing golf, I intend to return to South Florida hopefully.
You could say I have all the corners the United States covered. I have a part-time place in Scottsdale as an investment home; my husband has an apartment in New York City that he has and he rents as well; and a place here. So we've got all three corners covered.

Q. And your parents and family are still down here?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah. My mother lives in Kendall, and my father is remarried and he also lives in Kendall. My sister lives a little bit more south. Not quite to Homestead, but kind of in between Homestead and Kendall. So I have a lot family here.
I lost both my grandparents who lived in Margate. I lost them. In the last three years I lost both of them. Would have been nice to see them come out to this tournament, but they would have been really old.
So lots of friends. My husband's aunt and uncle live in Boca. We're going to have a lot of people out here this week.

Q. Talk about what it's like, Miami is a large city, but not to have a tournament here for so long, what was that like for you. And when you heard that they were, what you felt about it.
CRISTIE KERR: I thought it was terrific. You know, I think Miami, at least for me, has always been a great golf town. The weather is always great. A lot of resorts. Doral, I grew up at Doral pretty much, you know, with Jim McLean and his instructors there.
So for me it's always been a great golf town, and a place that's had a lot of golf courses you can go play, a lot of resorts: Turnberry here, the Fairmont here. I've always really liked it. To not have a tournament here, I mean, we have a lot of places in the United States I think we should have tournaments: Texas, Nashville again.
I think there's places I think they're looking at. Seems like we adding more international tournament now, and to focus maybe on getting some LPGA tournament back in the Miami area, in Texas, and in Nashville and some of the really key places for us, I think, would be great.
I was very pleased to hear that the tournament was coming back to Miami, and, you know, getting involved and being back in the community. And Blake, you had said, being honored by the City of Miami, inducted into the Hall of Champions, which Dan Marino and a lot of other prestigious names associated with that. So it's a thrill for me.

Q. (No microphone.)
CRISTIE KERR: We're trying to figure out the schedule right now. Haven't quite figured that out yet. They wanted to maybe come up to the tournament this week, but it didn't end up working out. So we're trying to figure out when that's going to be. It might be later in the year.

Q. How has the adjustment been in the last nine months or whatever it's been to playing as the reigning United States Womens' Open champion? I'm sure every time you hear it it's still a thrill. But in terms of what you may have to do with the expectations, I guess, how do you deal with that?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I think the main thing to bring up here is expectations, because it seems like I've been putting more on myself than anybody else has been putting on me, and that's hurt my play that I've been so hard on myself lately.
I'm trying to readjust my mental focus now, I'm trying to get back into the mindset that I have when I'm playing successful and putting complete tournaments together. So I'm trying to get back there.
You know, winning the Open was a thrill for me, to say the least, you know, but it was a good learning experience for me as well. You know, just because you win that tournament doesn't mean everything is solved and fixed or that you're expected to win every major you play in.
I put that pressure on myself, and it's been a learning experience since then to be able to refocus and say, Hey, what do we got to do long-term to get better? Better with the practice and better in competition. Just how do we get better?
Because that's what you need to do as a professional golfer, especially with the talent getting better every year and the competition becoming more fierce.

Q. Lorena Ochoa has always been long, but it seems like she even got longer this year. Does it make everyone look at her and go, How can I get more yardage? Do players have to assess that in catching her?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I that's a big advantage that she does have. I played with her in the last -- since she's come out on tour really, and last year she was always longer with her woods, but I was a little bit longer with my irons.
This year, she's just stepped it up as far as distance goes. She's hitting her driver probably at least 25 yards longer than most everybody else. And she's not a very big person. She has a lot of speed and quick hand speed at the bottom, and she's very, very fit. She doesn't look very, very muscular, but she's very, very strong. You know, she's got a very long and flowing golf swing. Creates a lot of speed.
So this year I went to the Ping Test Center and I have a driver that I probably hit 10 to 15 yards longer than I had last year with my Rapture driver that I was using. I switched to the G-10 now. Just I launch the ball very high with every driver, but the Rapture was spinning too much, so we tried to bring the spin rate down, and I hit this driver a lot better.

Q. (No microphone.)
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah: In January pretty much. You know, being in Phoenix part-time, the Ping Test Center is right there. Lorena has even credited Ping with helping her be successful. She's on staff with them now and doing a pretty good job for them.

Q. You were talking about the Pro-Am aspect of this tournament. What's the most common mistake you see amateurs making in the Pro-Ams?
CRISTIE KERR: Where do you want me to start? Yeah, it's going to be different this week. You know, normally in the Pro-Ams, on the Wednesdays before the tournaments, I try and help. I give tips and try and teach, Hey you should grip it more like this or try this with your technique or stay still with your putting, whatever.
But this is going to be different. It's going to be, I think, a little awkward for the amateurs, because they're going to want to feel like they don't want to mess us up. And we're going to try and stay out of their way as well, even though there's going to be an exchange of -- if they make a great putt we'll high five or whatever. It's going to be different.
You know, as far as the most common things that I see, it just depends on the caliber of player you get. If you have a high level of player, a single-digit handicapper, then you just -- there are things that I might work on with them differently than I would a 30 handicap.
They're basis of knowledge for the game is so much greater being a single-digit, playing for longer, getting lessons, just depends on the kind of golfer you're dealing with.

Q. The Turnberry course, you don't recognize any of it, but what's your assessment of the redesign and how it's going to play this week?
CRISTIE KERR: I think I like it. I played very well today. You know, I'm kind of switching up my routine a little bit. I'm not going to have my caddie line me up so much anymore. Going to take a little bit more control over my game again, a little bit more responsibility for my own alignment and things.
You know, the redesign of the course, honestly, the 18th hole looks similar to me, like again the 15th or the 14th hole, the Par 4 that has the big tree on the left side of the fairway, I remembered that hole. It just looks so different.
It's just going to depend on the wind for the scores, I think. And the greens are very firm. They're new greens and you can tell they are new greens.
I was here in November and I didn't think the course was in very good shape. When I stepped out there today I was amazed at how much work they had done. I know November to end of April is a long time, but still, sometimes -- they've done a great job getting the course in shape for us. I think it's in very good shape.

Q. In terms of going back to the question of expectations, how did that manifest itself with you? Did you start trying to do things that maybe are not to your strength?
CRISTIE KERR: I think I tried to become more of a technician than an artist. With my putting I'm very artful and I feel what's going on. I read the putt with the speed and the break and everything, and I feel like I kind of just do that.
I felt like things were starting to go wrong and I was mishitting shots. I looked to the technique side of the game for answers, and the more I looked the for technical I got; the more technical I got the worse I got, I think.
It was almost like I felt if I didn't have the technique to hit the shot I wouldn't hit it. When I let go of all that recently I started hitting much better shots. I realized that my swing is in there, you just got to stay out of your own way. I've been working on that part of the game for the last several weeks, and I've seen great improvements and hope again.
Because, you know, I was in contention one or two times last year and I won the Open, and I didn't play very well or contend very much the rest of the year. This year, even though I haven't won a tournament and finished better than eighth, I've still contended two out of the five or six tournaments I've played in.
It's just a matter of now, for me, you know, putting a complete tournament together. I have had so much frustration over trying to make that happen, and I got to do this and I got to put a full tournament together to be able to -- oh, if I could get that one good tournament under my belt I could be off and running.
It's kind of had an opposite effect almost. So I've kind of let all that go and started focusing on the things that I can control again.

Q. You were talking about no longer having your caddie line you up. That's something that's very common on tour in the last few years. Why did you decide to go against that?
CRISTIE KERR: It's something actually last night I decided, Hey, this is kind of what I want to do. The last shot on Sunday into the 18th hole again, I said, You know what, I just want to line myself up here, and I hit the best shot I had hit all week.
And I said, You know -- it's almost like a crutch and almost like a dependency, and it just sometimes feels like a little bit of a disconnect when I hit it. Like I'll mishit some shots, and I just said, You know what, that just doesn't feel like me.
So it's about taking responsibility and being accountable for your own golf game. I feel like I'm there and ready to do that again.

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