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June 9, 2009

Cristie Kerr


DANA GROSS-RHODE: How are you feeling coming into the McDonald's LPGA Championship?
CRISTIE KERR: You know, I feel really good. I had a good week last week. Didn't hit it as good as I wanted. I still played pretty well last week. I feel pretty good coming into this week.
My game is shaping up and trying to do a lot of short game out there because there's a lot of rough this year. Trying to see all of the different lies in the grass, it's kind of gnarly, kind of like the first year we played here. So trying to be prepared with the short game, and so I'm kind of ready for the week.

Q. Can you talk about your consistency this year?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I think I've worked pretty hard on all facets of my game, my mental game, a lot of my short game and putting, and trying to get my swing back to where it was in 2005 when I think I won three tournaments that year.
So you know, everything is kind of falling into place. I'm very peaceful, very happy in my life, and you know, just trying to -- my goal is, like you said, stay consistent and get into contention more often.

Q. I read recently that after the Kraft Nabisco a year ago that you switched or started to go to somebody for your head game and mental side of it. I wonder if you can talk about that process and what it's done for you?
CRISTIE KERR: Dr. Joe Parent is the gentleman that I work with. He wrote the book Zen Golf.
Basically in a nutshell we have focused on working to get me focused on the process and the execution instead of the results, which I think professional golfers, being such an individual sport and knowing everything that goes into golf, when you get focused on the result, that's kind of where you lose your form.
So I've worked really hard on that with him to focus on the process and executing the shot and the results taking care of themselves. That's basically what I've worked on with him and routine and breathing and feeling good and in contention. It's all paying off.

Q. I wonder where you are now. You just talk about that you're at peace and very peaceful with things. How would you compare that with, say, five years ago, maybe ten years ago and how has it changed for you out here?
CRISTIE KERR: I think even when I was playing well in 2003, 2004, 2005; I had won tournaments every year for the last six, seven years. But I think that I'm confident now.
I have a level of feeling like I have more control over my thoughts and my mental state of mind than I did back then even perhaps. And it's more of a quiet confidence, you know, where you let your clubs do the talking and you execute and you do the best you can that way, instead of feeling that you have to post numbers or result-oriented things.
And I feel a lot better about my mental game now than I did back then, and of course I didn't really work on it a whole lot. You spend hours and hours on your short game, on hitting, and then you think about it: Well, how many hours a week do I work on my mental game. I was kind of falling short in that respect.
So that's when I found Dr. Parent, and basically just to try and help me maximize the talent that I have and the abilities and the good things that I do. And in doing that, a lot of the other remnant stuff is kind of gone, the kind of self-sabotaging behavior where everything is going good and then you see some people fall apart. I don't feel like I have to fall apart anymore, and that's a huge asset.

Q. What about off the course?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I stress my husband out less. I try not to worry about the little stuff as much anymore. I was always focusing on little things that bothered me and maybe as a screen to kind of take pressure off myself with golf, and none of that stuff is there anymore.

Q. How much of this from being A Solheim Cup year, and are you thinking about the Solheim Cup, ten weeks out?
CRISTIE KERR: Oh, yeah, I was thinking about Solheim Cup before we even teed it up this year in Hawaii. All of us are. We really enjoy playing this team competition, and there's nothing else like it. It's an amazing feeling. It's a rush to play for your country and for your teammates, people you play against every other week out here.
And it's always in the back of your mind, even if it isn't a Solheim year, if you want to make the team, the following year, you don't want to leave anything to chance. You want to get out ahead in points, at least I do. I don't want to worry about it.

Q. The mental game, not enough players spend enough time on that, and I think your results have sort of shown; and you're not afraid to say, hey, I'm working on my mental game. My question is: When you get to the end of a tournament, which you won a couple, 16th, 17th hole, what is your strategy? Do you feel a little bit of tightness, and what's your strategy to overcome that? Is it just routine and breathing?
CRISTIE KERR: There are different techniques. I can't give away all my secrets. (Laughter).
There are different techniques I work on with Dr. Parent that have enabled the stress to kind of melt away and to just be good with -- if I stay in the moment and in my body and not up in my head thinking about it or thinking in the situation, that allows me to go ahead and execute the shot as best as I can. And when you look at what Buddhism is, it really just means being awake, and it's being aware to know what you're feeling inside of you so that you can change it and shape it the way that you want to shape it.

Q. This is the last year of McDonald's involvement with the Tour for the LPGA Championship, and other tournaments have ended this year and their contracts have expired. Are you concerned about the uncertainty in the future, especially given the state of the economy?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I think there's definitely a level of concern for everyone, whether it's your mortgage that you're looking at or your strong portfolio or your bank account or how many tournaments are up for renewal. I think it's on everybody's minds and everybody is wondering where the bottom is going to come.
We as players have to do whatever we can to try and help those tournaments that are in renewal to tip them over the edge to come back and renew. I mean, those are the things that we can control. There's so many tournaments up for renewal, maybe 14 this year or something. It can be pretty overwhelming thinking about it.
But you know, if we are asked to go to a Pro-Am party or we are asked to entertain the sponsor, those are things that we can control and do. You know, I've been trying to do my part, and I know everybody out here has. I mean, that's really all we can hope to do as players, and the organizations, trusting them to take care of the rest.

Q. You have been around before the age of the Internet; what do you make of the idea that you as players can connect with fans that way and is that a big deal?
CRISTIE KERR: I think it's a huge deal. People are really not watching a whole lot of television these days. They are on the Internet. It's a necessary evil. As you said, I'm kind of before that age and I'm still learning how to -- on the LPGA Web site, how to connect with fans. I have to have somebody actually help me do it because I'm not that savvy at it.
I have a Web site, as well and you need to be able to reach your fan base that way. I mean, even in movies now, in the movie theatre, they are doing a lot of product placement stuff because people are just not watching commercials anymore, so it's definitely necessary.
Do I think we need to be Twittering on the golf course? No, I don't. I think it's good the LPGA is thinking outside the box in that respect, but I think that can open up a whole can of worms and we don't need to get any slower player than we are, so we need to speed it up.

Q. One more broad cultural question. You're No. 1 on the Money List now, as an American up there, do you find a corollary between having American players on the leaderboard and having American companies and fans and spectators being drawn to the game?
CRISTIE KERR: I definitely think it helps. I think the last time even an American was on the top of the Money List even for halfway through the season must have been ten years ago or 13 years ago; 1996, 1994. Even to have an American leading the Money List even through this point in the season.
So I think it's important. It's always been a goal of mine to try and chase that, and it's fun chasing it. I think I had always been a little afraid of that, but I'm not anymore. I mean, working on this mental stuff, I mean, it's pretty a amazing what it can do, and some of those fears that you have, some of those same things that you have on the golf course, you realize they are not real. Once you realize they are not real, they have no power over you and maybe that's why I'm doing better. I think it's important for morale, especially, between the Americans, to have us all playing well.

Q. Was there one specific kind of turning point in your career that kind of got you to where you're at now?
CRISTIE KERR: Pretty broad question. I'll try and answer it. Well, I think my collapse at the Kraft, not this year, but last year when I was a shot back from the lead and playing with Lorena; and how mentally strong she is, and she's just so at peace with herself out there.
I kind of thought I blamed it on a bad technical day, and it was a bad mental day. And I said, well, is there something I can do to prevent that and get better and be consistent and not have that as an issue, then, I mean, the sky is the limit.
And I think that's really when I realized, I wouldn't say it's the turning point of my career, because I've had a career that's kind of gone up and up and up; I'm pretty lucky in that respect. But that was my cue to say: Well, something is missing, and if I can add that aspect to it, not only be a Bert golfer, but be a better person.

Q. And then just finally, what will it take to win the championship this weekend? What is going to be the key for you?
CRISTIE KERR: I think a lot of good short game, a lot of good putting. I tell you, I'm hitting it great. Just going through my routine, just trying to execute as purely as I can, feel the pure shot.
Everybody, that's what draws people to the game. Amateurs you play with all day, they are missing it, missing it and finally they send one right at the pin. I mean, that's what I want to feel like every time, and if I do that, I do my job well and I manage my emotions, it's going to be interesting.
DANA GROSS-RHODE: Thank you all and Cristie, good luck this week.

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