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March 17, 2011

Cristie Kerr


THE MODERATOR: Cristie, welcome. Let's start it off this morning kind of by talking a little bit about the spirit of the event and then also the charity you're playing for and why you chose it.
CRISTIE KERR: Sure. Well, the format this week is we're playing for charity, and we have a chance to win money for our individual charities, and there's a lot of people out there walking around, actually, and it's a little different feel than a regular tournament weekend.
I think it feels very good. I think it's a very positive vibe from all the people that are following around, and we've had a lot of "thank yous" for coming and playing, and you know, raising money for charity. So it's going to be a special week.
I am playing half for my own charity, Birdies For Breast Cancer, which supports breast cancer research, and also half for the Mohammad Ali Parkinson's Foundation because, you know, they're having an event this week, and I'm part of it, and I think it would be really cool to be able to give back to that event as well.
THE MODERATOR: Yeah, you're getting an award is it Friday night or Saturday night?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, the Mohammad Ali Athlete of the Year Award. I think I'm the first female in 16 years to get it, so it's quite an honor. I get to sit with Halle Berry, at a table with Halle Berry and with The Champ. And it's pretty special.
I've got to know Mohammad a little bit over the last couple years and done some stuff for his foundation, so I think it was natural to give back to his foundation this week.
THE MODERATOR: And then just tell us a little bit about your time here so far. How does the course look?
CRISTIE KERR: The course is in great shape. It actually is. I played here a couple of years ago in an outing, and I was like, wow, how are they going to get the course in that good of shape, but they've done a phenomenal job with it.
Living part time in Phoenix, I come down quite a bit, and I've never seen the course in this good of shape, so they've done a great job.

Q. I guess you seem a little surprised maybe at the reaction of people for this charity. Did you think they would think it was a lesser tournament because you guys aren't playing for a purse or?
CRISTIE KERR: I don't know if I would have necessarily assumed that that's the way I feel based on what I said. I think that I expected a positive reaction from people like this, and you know, it's very, very positive everything that we're doing here this week.
You know, I'll add to that by saying it's a little different; you know, normally we just go about our practice rounds and people just kind of watch. But we've had a lot more interaction, there's a lot more kids out here in practice rounds, so it's been good to see.

Q. Cristie, this event evolved very quickly and changed, and I think part of it was Mike Whan's reaction to some player concerns, and you had concerns. Can you address the concerns you had and how you feel about how they were addressed?
CRISTIE KERR: I think that we've worked with Mike beautifully for this event. You know, we were just concerned because it did go from concept to an event on the schedule very quickly, and it was brought up at a few player meetings. I think the players just wanted more details and wanted to find out where the money is going. It's a charity event. Is TV getting donated, a lot of different aspects of the event.
It's our job as players to play, and it's hard to be involved in every aspect sometimes, but we just wanted to be briefed on all that stuff, and he did a very good job with that. And we wanted to just feel like we could give back by saying, hey, what about this idea, what about that idea, and Mike did actually a great job with that listening to us, and as a result it's better. We are able to now play for our own charity as well, a charity that we choose.
So not only is girls' golf winning, but all the charities that the LPGA players have are winning, and you know, there's a chance to do stories on all those different charities that a lot of people don't know that we support. So it's good to be able to get those kind of messages out.

Q. So Cristie, how do you feel about your game right now?
CRISTIE KERR: I'm in a good place with my game. My coach was here the last couple days, Bryan Lebedevitch, and saw some very positive stuff.
I had a bit of a tough off season with some family health issues that I had to go and take care of, and I only had a few weeks to prepare for Thailand. And I got over there and I was very, very rusty, so I feel like I'm in a much sharper place with my game. I'm excited for this three-tournament stretch.

Q. Are the holes in the tournament schedules, does that make it harder for you to prepare?
CRISTIE KERR: It's a little bit more challenging because I'm the kind of player that likes to play a lot, and I like to be playing in competition to feel sharp.
So you know, this three-week stretch is good continuity, and then we have another hole in the schedule, and I would like to see four or five more tournaments. A full schedule for me is to be 27, 28 events. Now I play 22, 23 events. So it does seem like there's a lot of down time.
In the summer we go crazy and play almost every week, but in the beginning and the end of the season we could have a few more for sure.

Q. Can you give us a sense of how much of your edge you lose when you have these long gaps?
CRISTIE KERR: There definitely is a little bit lost for me, I would say for everybody, because it's just hard to be tournament sharp unless you're playing tournament golf.
It's hard to put like a percentage number on it, but you know, hitting shots under pressure, knowing you played well, getting a round in the 60s under your belt, like those are all things that kind of lead to more successful tournaments, so it's hard when you're off for three weeks after having a three-week stretch in a row. You just want to keep going if you're playing well.

Q. So when you have a gap like this, as you start to build back up at home, how much time are you really going hard at it to get ready for a week like this?
CRISTIE KERR: I mean for me it's hard for me to practice without having something to practice for, so when I have three weeks off, I mean I'll take a week off and then kind of ease into it and really go hard at it the last week and a half just because I need something in my sight line to be able to go after.

Q. Cristie, can you talk about just the LPGA as a whole, how important this year is in rebounding and rebuilding and what you would like to see achieved by the Tour this year?
CRISTIE KERR: Sure. This is a very important year for us. You know, Mike's had a year under his belt with the Tour to kind of see how things run and to get introduced to all the partners that we have.
And you know, I think that he's done a very good job for his first year, but I think now is a time, like you said, to build and to go after finding new sponsorships, and you know, foster new relationships and try and get more events, especially in the United States on the schedule.
We have plenty of events overseas, and yes, you have to go where the money is and you have to -- you know, we have great partners in Asia as well as Europe. And you know, we have 10 or 11 events, you know, maybe at least half our schedule overseas now.
So you know, hopefully the economy keeps getting better here and we can find partnerships even if, you know, like a tournament title -- maybe it's like three and a half million dollars to run a full-field LPGA tournament. Maybe one sponsor picks up half and the other so there's dual sponsors. Whatever it takes to get it done. We need to just try and keep building business.

Q. So you put a special focus on the domestic part?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah. We have a strong foothold in Asia, and it's only getting stronger; and that's fine, but we don't want to play all of our tournaments in Asia. We want a significant portion, because we have a lot of sponsors and a lot of players from Asia on our Tour, and that's awesome. We should add at least a couple, two or three -- we just lost State Farm after this year as well, so we need to at least replace the ones that we've lost.
And we've lost a couple of events in Hawaii. I think it would be great if we could go back to Hawaii. It would be great to be in markets like Chicago, you know, some of the markets that we've traditionally done very well in. I think that's what everybody wants. I think that's what you guys want. You want something to write about, too.

Q. Just a followup. When you were talking about going hard in practice and losing your edge from not playing, how much of that are you talking mentally? And when you talk about going hard in a practice, what is the difference there?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, yeah, you have to work on your mental game as well, but you have to work on all aspects of your game when you're off. You know, mental stuff is more, you know, just before you leave for a tournament; and when you get on site to a tournament, you know, a lot of the work is physical, physical practice, hitting balls and chipping and putting and working out when you're off.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? Good?
CRISTIE KERR: Thank you.

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