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June 24, 2008

Cristie Kerr



RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to welcome the 2007 United States Women's Open Champion, Cristie Kerr. And Christy, I'd like to just ask you one question, and then I'm going to say that you're defending, you said you thought previously that you might win the Women's Open in Pine Needles and also Interlachen was a possibility. What's your chances of repeating at Interlachen.

CRISTIE KERR: I feel pretty good about my game. I had a great finish last week in Rochester, and things are starting to come together. I don't know, it's just -- I was telling somebody last week in the media room that, I don't know the last two years my game seemed to kind of just start peaking about this time, and it's not a bad time to peak.

If I keep doing any job and the things I've been doing well the last couple of months I think I'll have a good chance. If I take care of my job.

Q. Can you just tell me about your relationship with Kelly, Natalie and Morgan, who you played with today?

CRISTIE KERR: They were bridesmaids in my wedding, all kind of co-maid of honors, if you will. Natalie I've been good friends with since she's been on Tour. And Morgan and Kelly I've known since she was 10 years old. Another bridesmaid was Emilee Klein, who is a retired player.

Q. Can you talk about what it's like to play against best friends?

CRISTIE KERR: Well, it's pretty cool. I played with Lorena and Morgan in the final group last year. It's amazing, you can be the best of friends and the fiercest of competitors once you get on the course. But we know it's not personal and you play against the golf course. We're all just trying to do the same thing and play against the golf course and see how good we can do.

Q. When you were here for Media Day, you talked about how much you liked Donald Ross designs and how your game seems to work well on them. Can you talk about what it is about a Donald Ross course that seems to bring out the best in your game?

CRISTIE KERR: I think he had a sense of humor about golf, as you can see by his golf courses. I really enjoy playing them. You have to be very strategic, you have a lot of options, and I think you'll see that with the course setup this week. Five par-5s, they can move the tees up or back. They have a lot of short holes which are challenging. Just a very good golf course designer with the layouts and just giving of the players options and things to think about.

Donald Ross is also known for when you've got a green that's sloping, like the 4th or 5th hole, the par-3, really downhill, really sloped from front to back, and right-to-left. So you think you have to aim right, but in fact your miss and your most chance of making par is if you hit it left. You miss it in the bunker left there. You really have to think about where you want to position the ball. That's the same thing at Pine Needles last year.

And the greens are obviously really severe and fast and I really like that.

Q. Just talk about how your life changed, how it changed for you after winning last year's tournament. The next time you stepped on a golf course and thereafter, was it any different?

CRISTIE KERR: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear the last part of your question.

Q. Was it any different?

CRISTIE KERR: It is different knowing you're a Major champion, especially the U.S. Open. I think it's the most demanding tournament every year. We play on a different course every year, unlike some of the other Majors that we play. Quite often old- style golf courses, which I really like.

So knowing that I'm a Major champion and that I've won on the caliber golf course that I have, it gives me a lot of personal satisfaction. It verifies all the hard work that I've done. It kind of makes you hungry for more.

Q. Quick question on the 18th. Do you like that as a finishing hole and do you think it has a chance to maybe create the kind of drama that we saw with the men's Open on the par-5 on the last?

CRISTIE KERR: It depends on the wind. If there's very little wind or downwind, players will be able to get there in two, which can provide some drama. And for even the players that can't get there in two, if you have a 50, 60 yard pitch you have to be pretty precise. And that's one of the more flat greens on the golf course, so you can wedge it close to the hole.

So I could see needing a birdie to win, definitely.

RHONDA GLENN: 6700 yards. What sort of clubs are you hitting for your approach shots? Are you hitting a lot more of the longer irons and the woods into the greens.

CRISTIE KERR: No, I think there was very little wind today and the longer holes, like 17, were playing downwind. So into 17 today I really, really hit a good drive there and I hit a little 6- iron today to 17. But again it played about as benign as it can being downwind.

I think if the wind switches you're going to see a lot of woods into the greens. If you see very little wind you'll see some longer irons and some predominantly mid irons, even to some of the par-5s, where laying up a little further back might be a smarter play than bringing it down, bringing some other stuff into play.

RHONDA GLENN: I've always heard that women have better short games than the men. I don't think that's true, but I do think that women generally on the professional level are better fairway wood players than the men professionals. Do you agree with that and is that going to serve you well here?

CRISTIE KERR: I don't know. For me personally -- are you applying the question to me personally or are you saying in general?

RHONDA GLENN: The women professionals in general, I think they're better fairway wood players than the men professionals.

CRISTIE KERR: I didn't quite understand the question. I would agree with that in the sense that the men have a bigger ego, and they aren't going to put as many fairway woods in play. And we're used to hitting them.

I love my fairway woods. I've had most of my clubs for five or six years, I'm pretty familiar with them and they like me and I like them. I'm going to put them to good use this week.

Q. Michelle was just in here talking about coming back from a disastrous last year. I'm curious from your perspective as a player who's been out here for a while, whether you can sort of empathize with what she was going through. How did players, I mean I don't want you to be a spokesman for everybody, but how did you view what she was going through? Did she do the wrong thing, the right thing, how do you look at it?

CRISTIE KERR: That's kind of -- sitting in my seat that's kind of a hard question to answer because I came out of high school and went straight to the professional ranks and made it. And didn't do great my first year, and came back and got my card back.

And even in the last year I've struggled a bit. I feel like I'm starting to find my total game again. It's hard to say with respect to her. She could answer it better than me, obviously.

But I felt for her. I know what it's like. I know what it's like to have an injury. I'm just happy she's doing better now. She seems to be in a little bit better place with the injury and being able to practice and come back. I think a little time off actually did her good because she's been grinding since she's ten years old, to try to become a professional by the age of 16. And that's something a lot of people can't really understand. So I'm glad to see he's doing better. She's good for the game.

Q. The greens here at Interlachen and the severity of the slope, is there any other site on the LPGA Tour that this would compare to in terms of difficulty of the greens and the slope?

CRISTIE KERR: I don't think so.

Q. What would be close?

CRISTIE KERR: I have to think of that. Maybe some of the courses I play in Westchester on some of my off weeks, like Shinnecock or Westchester Country Club or a Deepdale of sorts.

These are very, very old greens. They haven't done a lot to the greens. And I think that's kept the character of them. The course has not changed much since I played it in the Solheim Cup however many years ago that was here.

I think it's very similar -- I think the greens are a little faster than they were in the Solheim Cup. Again, the greens are a little bit slower, maybe a little bit more rough, because it was earlier -- I think it was earlier in the year or later -- it was actually October, so they had more of a growing season to grow the rough.

There's plenty of rough out here, but as fast and severe as the greens are right now I don't think you need to see a lot of rough to see a lot of challenging conditions. The greens are going to do nothing but get faster and firmer as the week goes on, if I know the USGA.

RHONDA GLENN: I think they try to keep the conditions relatively the same, and the same degree of difficulty.

CRISTIE KERR: Sometimes the conditions with heat and wind tend to dry them out. These greens are pretty severe, so that would be pretty good for all the players.

RHONDA GLENN: So putting is going to be a key this week.

CRISTIE KERR: Definitely.

RHONDA GLENN: More so than many Women's Open, I think.

CRISTIE KERR: Well, that's hard to say. The U.S. Women's Open, every year the greens are really challenging. I think the severity of the slope -- I think the speed is probably pretty much on par to the U.S. Open, but I think there's more slope on these greens than we've seen in the last couple of years.

Q. You've talked about it a little bit before, but when you came here for the Solheim Cup you said you really just loved the course then. What was it about Interlachen that kind of attracted you immediately to this golf course?

CRISTIE KERR: I think the teeth of the golf course. I think it's tough. There's a lot of doglegs. There's some very long par-3s, just the mix of holes. I just thought the golf course had a really good flow for me. It suited my eye.

I kind of could understand, maybe what Donald Ross was thinking when he designed some of the holes. And I think that's pretty special to kind of -- even though that's way back then -- to kind of say, I can kind of understand what he tried to do with the golf course. And understand where he gives you opportunity to make up shots and where you have to be a little bit more conservative.

Because winning U.S. Opens are not necessarily about making a hundred million birdies, it's about who makes the fewest mistakes, and who can be the most heroic coming down on Sunday.

Q. To follow up on that, and you talked about how much you liked this course, you've played it before. When you have, as you described, almost like an instinctual comfort level with a course, what does that do for your confidence, just kind of going into a tournament like this?

CRISTIE KERR: Well, I think it puts you at ease. Again, understanding the golf course and where you need to be more aggressive for certain pins, where you cannot hit it over greens. I think you come up with a definite game plan which, no matter what the conditions are or what somebody is doing with the lead or where you are in the tournament, I think it gives you a comfort level of what you need to do and to take care of your own job.

I think you can get lost sometimes in the clamor of what's going on with the scores or distractions or whatever.

So having a definite game plan, and on this course I do, I think that puts me at ease to be able to take care of my own job better.

Q. You talked about liking the teeth of the golf course. And I think you're kind of seen as one of the tougher competitors on Tour. Do you see yourself that way, in that kind of image?

CRISTIE KERR: You know, I've always said I'm pretty mentally tough. I think that this is a golf course you definitely have to respect. You have to golf the ball around it. You have to execute that game plan as well as you can.

So knowing that I think that allows me to go out and do my job better than just playing any old golf course. I think I've always played the tougher courses better, I think, because it has forced me to focus more on what I need to do.

Q. What did you see last week that you feel is going to allow you to do exactly what you just said, golf your ball around this golf course?

CRISTIE KERR: Well, I've been working on the mental side for a while now and it's just seeming to all come together at the right time again.

I've put a lot of work into my game, a lot of work into my short game, I think this is the best my short game has been in two years. I made a lot of putts last week. And since I switched back to this Two-Ball Putter I've made a lot of putts. I'm starting to read the greens better.

Again, it's just an overall sense of my game starting to peak at the right time. And that doesn't come from a place where I put pressure on myself, it comes from an excitement of, hey, this is what I want to try to do, and go out there and being excited for the challenge, being excited for every shot you get to hit out here. Because sometimes you can put a lot of pressure on yourself and you can focus on the wrong things, but I feel I'm starting to focus on the right things again.

Q. Who are you working with on the mental side?

CRISTIE KERR: Over there, Dr. Joseph Parent. He's worked with Vijay and a lot of people.

Q. When did you change back to the Two-Ball Putter?

CRISTIE KERR: When did I change back to the Two-Ball? Maybe South Carolina -- no -- when was it -- Kingsmill? No, it was -- sometime in that -- I don't remember. Right after the Sybase, last run at the Sybase.

You know, it's funny, because the first time I played the Two-Ball, I don't know the year that I won my first three tournaments in a row, maybe -- what year was that -- 2005? '04 or '05. The first -- okay in '04, I guess. The first one that I put the Two-Ball in play I shot a 4-under. I put it back in play and shot 4- under, so go figure.

RHONDA GLENN: Cristie, thanks so much. We wish you lots of luck to week. Thanks for being with us.

End of FastScripts

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