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August 28, 2005

Cristie Kerr


PAUL ROVNAK: Cristie, thanks for coming in. Congratulations on the win.

CRISTIE KERR: Thank you.

PAUL ROVNAK: Your second win this year.

CRISTIE KERR: It feels good.

PAUL ROVNAK: Spectacular finish on 18 with the par putt to win it. It's a great day for you making the Solheim Cup, as well, the leading points getter. Talk about your feelings right now.

CRISTIE KERR: I'm just ecstatic and I'm exciting. Forget the win for a second, but I'm really excited about how our team is going into the Solheim. We're looking for each other on the leaderboards. We have a great team and we have great synergy.

And putting that aside, I played really really well today. I had more putts that could have gone in, but I made the putts when I needed to when they counted. On 17, that was about as big a putt as you can make to save par or to birdie. It counted the same as a birdie almost.

And then the putt on 18, I just trusted my line and made it. I just played great. I played great all week, made a ton of birdies. I think the course played a little more difficult today. They had a lot of tougher pin placements. I had a couple of bad breaks on the front nine on. I had some bees that wouldn't leave me alone, and I was in some divots in the fairway.

Like on 7, I had like a 6 or 7 iron to the green, I had a good swing, but it was in the tail end of the divot so I ended up hitting it flat. I had a 120 foot putt easily, it could have been 130 putt. I hit it up to about three feet and made it. I think that was the best two putts I ever made. It was a great day for me and I'm very excited.

Q. To a certain degree, did it start out almost as match play since you were playing right with Paula?

CRISTIE KERR: I don't think so. It was nice to see where the leader is, in relationship to where you are, but knowing this golf course and how many birdies it's given up and how many people I mean, I told Laura yesterday, everybody in the Top 10 was in three shots of the lead. So I couldn't necessarily focus on Paula, I had to focus on my own game and get as far as ahead as possible, because people are going to make a lot of birdies on the golf care because of the way it played this week because of the rain.

Q. The front nine, as you said, it seemed like your entire group couldn't get a birdie putt to drop. Considering the way everybody had played the first three days it was a birdie fest out there. Was it hard to stay patient, not get a little itchy to start making something happen?

CRISTIE KERR: Absolutely. Again, I got a couple of bad breaks on the front nine. On the front nine I hit on the par 5, I killed my drive. I only had 7 iron into the green and a bee would not leave me alone. And it was sitting on my ball. And by the time you back away three times you're unsettled, and then the divot. And then on 9 I had a good swing on the green but ended up in the bunker. There was no sand in the bunker, so I didn't have a good bunker shot.

But I just said to myself, you've been here enough. Today is a little different, it's like the first three days, you're playing the course. And then sometimes, as much as you try and play the course, some people start playing each other on Sunday because they view it differently than the other days.

So I just tried to stay patient and just get as many opportunities at birdies as possible. And I knew I was putting well. And I got a couple to go in at the beginning of the back nine, which kind of got me ahead, and I was able to hang on.

Q. Just to follow that up, what you just said, you had a reputation on Tour for a few years for when you got yourself in position, not being able to close. What have you learned maybe in the last four or five years?

CRISTIE KERR: That's news to me. I didn't know I had that reputation. People don't realize how difficult it is to win, especially in this caliber of field that the Wendy's gets here. I'll tell you, first of all, it's hard to learn how to win. And for many years Annika was a conditional player out here. I'm sure nobody really paid attention to her reputation once she was a conditional player. I don't think that's really relevant.

Winning is a learned behavior and you have to learn to do it well and learn how to win to win again and again and again and again. And that's what I did today. I relied on my experience and my patience and I was able to hang on.

Q. Is trusting your instincts on the 4 footer on 18 part of that learned behavior?

CRISTIE KERR: Absolutely. It's really hard for somebody who hasn't been in those situations to be able to kind of focus on what you're doing versus the situation, because if you focus on the situation, it doesn't matter anyways. I got over it and I said, do everything in your control to do to be able to hit this putt the way you want to hit it, and I did.

Q. You knew about Pat and what she went through as you stepped up on the 18th. I assume you knew.

CRISTIE KERR: You know what? My caddie went to me, "Do you want any information or not?" I said, "For what?" Because I really honestly, sometimes I look at the scoreboards, sometimes I don't. It depends where they are on the golf course. He said, "You know Pat just hit it out of bounds?" I said, "No, I hadn't realized that." I hadn't realized she had been tied with us. Sometimes it's a good thing not to have too much information.

And then I said, "Okay, she's probably going to make at least bogey, which will drop her back. I said, I have to focus on what's going on in this group on this last hole, because that ended up being what the situation was. And I knew Paula was going to try to make birdie, which she damn near almost did. It would have been a Hail Mary putt, but it was up and over a ridge and down a slope and really fast and she lipped it out. It was an unbelievable putt. A great effort by her. And I knew what I had to do after leaving it a little shorter than I would have wanted.

Q. (No microphone.)

CRISTIE KERR: We were kind of waiting and we saw them off to the right. I didn't really want to look over there because you never really want to see if something bad happens to somebody. But I had found that out, so it was like she was going to make five or six, so let's just focus on what we have ahead of us.

Q. Your playing partners were quick to give you credit for the win, but also exasperated by your deliberate style. Does that bother you at all or do you care what anybody thinks about the fact that you seem to be a slow player?

CRISTIE KERR: A what player?

Q. A slower player.

CRISTIE KERR: Frankly, today, the pace of play was a lot slower than it has been, so when that happens you tend to [slow down|slowdown] a lot. Especially on Sunday, things tend to get slower. So if it seemed I was slower today, I probably was. But generally I tend to be quicker, especially any time I get a timing sheet, I'm 30, 40 seconds under whatever it is.

But everybody was slow today. That's the way it ended up being. We were waiting almost on every shot, especially on the last hole. And on the last putt, you want to take a little bit more time, make sure you give it your best effort on the last hole. So I'm sure we were a little slower today, but generally I'm not a slow player.

Q. Did the conditions themselves contribute to that? Because we've heard people talking about swirling winds and it playing a little different today. The winds came out so it was probably different calculations than you had the rest of the week?

CRISTIE KERR: That's very perceptive of you. The pins were a lot more difficult today, and the wind condition was a little different, and the course was still playing it actually played longer today, I think, than it had in the last couple of days just because of the wind. So that definitely contributed to some of the slow play. People with nerves, a lot of people close to the lead, within a couple shots of the lead, so everybody was making sure they took their time.

It's a snowball effect. If one person on the highway brakes, everybody else brakes, and then you're like why is there traffic, and then it opens up. It's a bad analogy, but it's, I think, pretty good.

Q. You won earlier this year, but you played well all yearlong, probably a bounce or two here or there, a couple of putts either one, at least another one. How gratifying is it to get in this one and what does it do for you going into the Solheim Cup?

CRISTIE KERR: It's very gratifying. I have a great team around me, my coach Brian Lebedevitch, who runs the Jim McLean Golf School out at PGA West, Brian has been a key to my success, not only recently, but in the past. I worked with Jim McLean for many years. And I want to say hi to Jim, by the way. And Jim was becoming too busy with the Golf Channel in Orlando and doing so many different things working with PGA Tour players, and wasn't able to travel so much. So I went to Brian to work with him because I feel very comfortable with him. He worked with Jim for a long time, and then Jim sent him away actually Brian caddied for me in Tour School when I went back the second time because I lost my card the first year. And then I've been working with him for a while.

And then last year I picked up working with him, and he's done some amazing things in my game. And he's a huge part of my success. My parents, if it weren't for them I wouldn't be here. It's very gratifying to know that the sacrifices they made for me, it's worth it. I'm proud of them for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to do this.

Q. Do you believe you've staked a claim today as the No. 1 American player? You're leading the Solheim Cup points for the American side.

CRISTIE KERR: Well, I can tell you my mom probably thinks that, and my dad. I'm just trying to do the best I can. That's up to you. That's not up to me. Because I can only do the best I can do. If it comes down to a dollar being different, she's got a dollar more than me, it's really up to you guys. I can't answer that.

Q. You mentioned Annika a little earlier. Were you aware at any point that she was moving up the leaderboard?

CRISTIE KERR: Sure. She is a phenomenal player.

Q. Does she get your attention when her name pops up there more so than others?

CRISTIE KERR: As of late, I think all of us kind of realize that we can compete with her, and we have been the last couple of months. I knew her name was up there, but I also believed in my own ability to stay ahead and make a couple of birdies to get farther ahead. When it comes down to it, you don't want to go into a playoff. It doesn't matter who it's with, but it's all momentum and anything can happen in a playoff. So I just knew I had to make the last putt.

Q. You get scoring like this, low numbers, 18 under, on the men's Tour and everybody says, look how good they are. It happens out here and there seems to be an attitude of the course is set up easy. Do you find that to be the case? Does it frustrate you? And how and will that change?

CRISTIE KERR: This course did not play short. I think it's a little soft because of the rain, but we really couldn't do anything about that. As far as course conditions, you can't beat Mother Nature sometimes.

I don't really think people realize how good we are. Point blank. I think the LPGA is gaining popularity. And I think when more people start watching us and we're on TV and just the buzz gets out more and more and more, I think people will realize that we are that good. There's really no other way to put that.

Q. As good as you are, just talking about you and not the TOUR in general, as good as are, how much better do you think you can be?

CRISTIE KERR: Honestly, I think it's really limitless. I'm always trying new equipment. I'm always trying to find a way to make my short game better. I don't put limits on myself anymore.

Q. You seem to be opening up a lot more this year. There is a great article that you did with Golf For Women. You have two victories now. Where does this year rank in terms of how you enjoy playing on the Tour?

CRISTIE KERR: It's about as good as it gets. I'm living my dream, the dream I've had with my family for a very long time. And again, it's very gratifying. I forgot the question.

Q. I think you answered it. Where does it rank?

CRISTIE KERR: It astounds me that I just keep getting better. I'm going to keep believing in my myself and realize that look at Annika, when she was winning two, 3 tournaments a year, people were like, well, how much better can she get? And look what she's shown us. I think, why can't I do that? But it takes a lot of hard work and things to happen to be able to do that. But I think there's the answer.

Q. When you saw the ball on 17 bounce through the green, No. 1, what did you say or think to yourself?

CRISTIE KERR: That's private (laughter).

Q. I figured that. And No. 2, what kind of a lie did you have when you got over there?

CRISTIE KERR: I didn't have a very good lie. I was kind of thinking to myself, well, if I had a putt where would I want to leave it? It's better to be a little past the hill putting, than down the hill and trying to get the right speed. So I hit a sand wedge and hit a great shot and actually got a piece of the hole. It would have been nice if it would have gone in. But again, the putt on 17 was about as big as it gets. It was nerve racking but it was a lot of fun when it went in.

Q. Since you've had the long journey out of high school to the kind of player you are now, can you share your thoughts on the immediate success that Paula has enjoyed this year and offer any theories as to why Paula Creamer has been able to make an impact on the Tour this year?

CRISTIE KERR: First of all, you're seeing a youngster that's going to be around for a very, very long time. I enjoy playing with her. I'm going to be enjoying playing as her teammate in the Solheim Cup. I think she's completely earned that. She's doing things that a rookie didn't think they could do. But we all heard about her before she came out on Tour. You just know when somebody is good. You can just tell.

And I knew I had to play that last hole well because she would be right there, and she was. I think she's able to have that kind of success, again, because she did everything setting up her junior career and the way she did high school, and going to the Leadbetter Academy and all that. But still you're looking at a person who has quite a lot of talent. She's awesome.

Q. You've got, I believe, twice as many Solheim points I think as anybody else on the team. But you're not the oldest player on the team. I wondered if you've given any thought to what kind of role you play on this team. Do you lead, do you just play your game, what do you do?

CRISTIE KERR: A very good question, because honestly, we've all kind of looked at that. We've all asked ourselves that, and I think the truth is whether you're the oldest or the youngest, I think we're all going to play for each other and be rooting for each other. And that's what makes this team so special. I think you're going to see something special at Crooked Stick in a couple of weeks because that's how we are.

Q. (No microphone.)

CRISTIE KERR: I don't know. Just different dynamic personalities, the makeup of the team, again some older, some younger, some in between, some wine at dinner, a lot of hard work, a lot of fun. Whether we win or lose, we're going to die or we're going to win as a team.

Q. I wonder what your club and yardage was into 18?

CRISTIE KERR: I hit a 5 iron. I had 166 yards into the wind off a little uphill, which you've kind of got to grip up on the club a little bit. Again, I had a bee on my ball, which at that point I was really fed up that they couldn't just stay away from me. I had to change my sunscreen on my arm because I thought the one I was using was attracting them. So I got it a little heavy, but it was on the right level of the green.

Q. And the distance of the first putt was 40 maybe, or 35?

CRISTIE KERR: It must have been over 40 feet.

Q. Tell us what club you hit off of 17.

CRISTIE KERR: A 9 iron, very solid, a little too solid. I did I hit it over that green before in years past, and sometimes you just get a gust of wind. And I've seen people hit great shots, they're staring it down like it's going to be stiff and it goes in the water. So that hole in particular is really hard to judge the wind there sometimes. I certainly wasn't going to take a club shorter and be short.

Q. The distance?

CRISTIE KERR: I think 124, 125, so I was trying to fly it a little past the pin, which I was successful. So 127 yards I was trying to fly it, downhill, downwind. It was playing like 122 yards and I caught it more solid than I was intending. Again, though, I couldn't hit another club because it wouldn't have carried the water.

PAUL ROVNAK: Thank you, Cristie.

End of FastScripts.

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