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June 1, 2005

Cristie Kerr


PAUL ROVNAK: Cristie, thanks for coming in. We know it's cold out there, so you can warm up in here. You're defending champion this week, and that's kind of a cool thing. Just talk about coming back and your thoughts for the week.

CRISTIE KERR: It's great to be coming back. And my instructor, Brian Lebedevitch is here, from California, he teaches at Jim McClean golf school in PGA West, and he's out this week and I'm just going over some of the shots I hit in the final round last year.

It's just really good to have memories coming back here, and I don't think the game's right where I want it right now, but, you know, that's why he's here and we're working on it, and so it's going to be good to try to defend.

Q. Coming back defending, how does that feel compared to a normal tournament: More pressure, less pressure, more confidence, what's it like to be defending champion this week?

CRISTIE KERR: Well, it's special, because like I said, you do have those great memories coming back. I don't necessarily think it's more pressure. It's just a different feel to the week and how you go about things and people recognizing you. It's really going to be a different feel, it's not necessarily more pressure.

Q. The week before a major, is there a different mind set, or is that next week, or do people look forward a little bit like when you're hitting shots or whatever, or I guess you don't know what you're going to face.

CRISTIE KERR: So what was the question?

Q. The week before major, is there a different mind set when you play a tournament?

CRISTIE KERR: For me, I like to play the week before a major. It helps me to kind of get in the mindset of preparing for a tournament. You can practice your game more kind of in the heat of competition, and I like to play well the week before a major going into a major to get a little confidence going. That's kind of the mind set that I have, to try and keep the momentum going that I've built up throughout the year and take that right into the majors.

Q. As someone who came along at a pretty young age yourself, is it hard to imagine what Paula went through two weeks ago?

CRISTIE KERR: Hard to imagine?

Q. Winning that early when you come up in your career.

CRISTIE KERR: I don't know if it's hard to imagine necessarily. She was the youngest to win in 50 years or something. But I was No. 1 Amateur, No. 1 Junior coming out of high school, and I almost in a sense expected to do that. Back then, I don't think I was quite prepared to be able to play at the level of competition that there is out here, and I think the younger players are more equipped to do that and handle it.

It seems like the younger players are getting more and more sponsor exemptions in tournaments, and back when I was an amateur, it was really hard to get those exemptions. So they almost have like a mini pro career before they do turn pro. Michelle Wie, when she turns pro, she will be very, very close to being a professional unlike back then for us.

Q. When did you decide in high school that college was not for you; that you were going to be out and become a professional golfer?

CRISTIE KERR: I think in my senior year. I wanted to go to college for four years and graduate, or I didn't want to go at all. I had a very good GPA in high school and I didn't like the idea of going for a year or two and taking somebody else's scholarship away; whereas, they potentially could get a four year ride. So I was going to either go for four years or I didn't want to graduate at all. I felt like my senior year, I started seeing some success in some of the Junior and Amateur tournaments, and I felt like I was ready to play, so I gave it a shot.

Q. Is there a different aura around the tournaments that include Annika in the field on a weekly basis when she's here versus when she's not here?

CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, absolutely. She's definitely the player to watch every week, and I aspire to be that way. There's definitely a different feel and it makes it sweeter to whoever wins the tournament when she is in the field.

But again, there are a lot of people starting to challenge her on a weekly basis now, and I think that's very, very good for our Tour.

Q. Do you think there will be sort of a parallel, like the Tiger effect on the men's tour, that he raised the bar in terms of things like weight training and things like that; that we'll see that similar effect on the LPGA Tour?

CRISTIE KERR: Absolutely. When she's come out here and won seven, eight, ten tournaments a year, the rest of us have to work that much harder. So it's either kind of a sink or swim situation. I think what happened on the men's tour with Tiger where everybody said okay, we have to kick our butts and get in gear. We have to keep up with what's happening out here, and it's all a very natural thing that happens, and we're definitely seeing that a little bit more out here.

Q. So was it any less sweet winning last year because she was not in the field?

CRISTIE KERR: No. At the time I had only won two tournaments, so you know, any win was going to be really sweet.

But winning Kingsmill with her in the field kind of silenced a lot of people's doubts whether I could win a tournament with her in the field, and so it's not really a question in my mind anymore whether I can do that or not. Last year I was just so happy to win another golf tournament and to gain experience and to build confidence, and that enabled me to, you know, win with her in the field in Kingsmill this year. So it's all a process.

Q. You talk about the process of winning at Kingsmill with her in the field, did you have to change mentally the way you approach things with her there, or did you have doubts before when she was in the field, or what was it that took you over the top?

CRISTIE KERR: I don't think that I had doubts necessarily. It's just a matter of, just the thing about doing it, actually doing it. It's like, you know, until you make a birdie, you know, there's always going to be that doubt. But once you do it, you know that you can make other birdies; it's the same thing. With me particularly, I know that I can win over and over again, so it's never so much a doubt thing, but until you actually do it; you know, now, I mean, now it's not even an issue for me anymore.

Q. With the young American women that have been first time winners like Stacy (Prammanasudh) and Paula, what is your opinion of the young crop of Americans coming up now, and do you consider yourself one of the young crop of Americans still?

CRISTIE KERR: I don't know. I'm going towards middle agedom.

I'm really proud of the young Americans. They are tenacious. They have no fear. You think you're like that way back then, but you realize you weren't. It's just a different world we live in now, and the younger players that are coming up again are experienced. Like I said, even before they turn pro, they have a lot of professional experience.

It's really good to see the younger Americans players coming up and doing well. I don't know if I consider myself one of the young, young ones, but I'm definitely one of the younger players still on Tour. I'm 27, so you know, I don't want that to go away, but it will some day.

Q. How much during your time on the Tour, I guess you call it the power game or the length of the game changed, and how has it affected the game on the LPGA Tour?

CRISTIE KERR: Well, it's definitely just caused to us start moving tees back, setting the courses up harder, the rough more up. It's definitely changed our game a little bit. I don't think the women have gained I don't know the statistics behind it, but it seemed like the men, because of their massive amount of clubhead speed with the new balls and clubs, would have gained more distance incrementally than we would have.

But the women are getting stronger and we are starting to hit it further. I don't think it's in leaps and bounds, or it's a gradual thing, but it has caused us to change our course setup.

Q. What do you think of the course this week, and is there anything in particular that you have to do to be successful out here this week?

CRISTIE KERR: I think you definitely have to hit the greens in regulation because the greens are small. If you hit a lot of greens in regulation, you're going to have a lot of birdie opportunities. You have to putt well here, and it depends on what the weather is going to be like, too. If the weather is like it was today, I don't think the scores are going to be quite as low. But if it's sunny and a little less windy it was pretty cold and windy out there today. Paula said to me in the lunchroom, "Are you okay? Are you okay?"

I was like, "Fine." My teeth were cheeks were all flushed. It was definitely cold and windy out there. It just depends.

Q. What do you think of the condition?

CRISTIE KERR: I think the condition is very, very good. The fairways are great. There's a lot of rough out there. It's a little patchy in spots because of the hard winter that this area has experienced, but the greens are starting to roll really fast and they are getting smoother. So I think the course condition is great.

PAUL ROVNAK: Thank you, Cristie.

End of FastScripts.

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