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April 28, 2004

Cristie Kerr


NEAL REID: Thanks for joining us today. You're a little bit under the weather, but we'll start out by talking about your win in Vegas, seven hole playoff or so. If you could just talk about that week and how you reflected over the win in the last week and a half.

CRISTIE KERR: That win was very, very special to me. I didn't play too well coming down the stretch in that final nine holes, but I held it together and it was a marathon playoff, as everybody said. That playoff taught me a lot about myself. It taught me that I had the guts to see it through, and that I was determined to bring that second win home when, you know, maybe a couple of years ago, or when I first came out on TOUR, maybe I would not have had the confidence to see it through and say "this is my tournament." I wasn't going to let anybody take it away from me.

Over the last week, I've really just kind of enjoyed that and been real proud of the way I handled the pressure in the playoff and really showed myself that I deserved it.

NEAL REID: How does that boost your confidence, and how is your confidence coming into this week?

CRISTIE KERR: My confidence is good coming into this week. I kind of took it easy last week and only practiced a couple of times. I felt a little under the weather this morning and I didn't play in the Pro Am unfortunately. I was actually looking forward to that. I played nine holes on Tuesday and practiced a little bit and wanted to have fun with my playing partners today, but unfortunately I wasn't feeling too well this morning. I slept till like 2:00. So obviously I wasn't feeling too well.

Q. You say you're proud of the way you handled the pressure; have you improved your tunnel vision, is it something you've done with your swing or what was it that enabled you to deal with it better?

CRISTIE KERR: I think that my experience in the Solheim Cup really helped as far as being able to handle the pressure in the playoff. My adrenaline the last couple of holes in regulation was a little bit, especially on 18 on the green, I just had the 2 putt to win. I wasn't nervous, but I couldn't control my adrenaline as much, which may be a training issue, a physical training issue, more than it is a mental thing. But, it's just an overall maturity thing, which helped me to be able to handle the pressure in the playoff.

Once the playoff started, I was fine. I wasn't nervous, I wasn't I was very, very calm, and just kind of said the words to my caddie, I said: "Well, what's the difference if it happened the way it did or whether we shot 63 to make it in the playoff. We're here, let's be in the moment and go forward and play like it's our week and it's our event and we're not going to let anybody take it away from us."

Q. Was it a been there, done that kind of thing?

CRISTIE KERR: No, I don't think so, because I had never been in a playoff. A sudden death playoff, it's like whoever wins the next hole, wins the tournament. The conditions got worse as the playoff progressed. It got colder and it actually got windier. I think it was a matter of survival. Nobody was going to hit great shots in the wind. You are not going to hit it close.

My experience, it was my eighth year on TOUR, my experience over the my years on TOUR and in the last two Solheim can you please really carried me through that.

Q. You're the first American to win in the LPGA. Being the top American on TOUR, is that something you think about?

CRISTIE KERR: Absolutely. It's definitely one of my goals, to be the top American player.

It's quite an honor. You have to work hard for it, but it's definitely one of my goals.

Q. As you've mentioned, you've been out here for eight years and that was your second win, how would you describe your career, would you say you've been hugely successful? What would be your description?

CRISTIE KERR: My description would be I think I'm exactly where I need to be right now. I think everything happens for a reason. It's such a cliched saying, but I really believe that, you know, success comes when you're ready for it. It's been a build up, especially over the last couple of years, from the 2002 season when I won the Long Drugs Challenge.

Since then, I've been in contention a lot. I really believe you have to learn how to win. If you were to ask Annika the difference between her 50th win and when she won her second tournament, she would have said it's all kind of a plan and putting things in the right place at the right time.

So I feel like I'm starting to be more ready for this, I'm a little bit older now than I was, I'm almost 27, which it doesn't seem old, but when you've been out here for eight years, it seemed like a long time since when I first turned pro. And you have to have vision, you have to have a plan, and I think it's kind of all going according to plan.

Q. There are the two schools of thought on the Tour: The foreign players here, it's great, it's a worldwide tour and all the best players are playing in one place. The other school of thought is it's a U.S. based tour and not enough Americans have won recently. As an American player who has won this year and a better player in America, how important is it for the better players like yourself to make more hey on TOUR?

CRISTIE KERR: I think it's very important. I think the international component on our tour has been very positive for us. If you want to be a winner on TOUR and you want to win consistently, you've got to want to win against the best players. You've got to want to win against Annika Sorenstam. The American players, I think we do have to start playing better, I think it's going to only help our tour.

Q. The age restriction that is in place on TOUR, Ty waived that for Aree this year. You came out as an 18 year old, just talk about what it's like, all of these young kids, LeBron James and Maurice Clarett and Michelle Wie; is the age restriction a good thing in golf because golf is so different than team sports?

CRISTIE KERR: I think the age restriction has been put in place for a reason. Of course, there's always going to be exceptions to the rule and we depend upon Ty to make the correct decisions.

I finished high school and I came out when I was 18, so I wasn't an issue. But honestly, back then, I never, ever really thought about coming out when I was 16 or even 17. It really wasn't an issue.

It's a little bit more of an issue for people nowadays, I think the training is better, people are starting at a younger age. There's more competitive tournaments to get girls ready to come out and play on TOUR.

But I'm a big believer in kind of finishing high school. That's my opinion. I think it's a hard world to grow up in out here, and I did it out of high school and it was very difficult for me. I did not play well my first couple of years on TOUR because of that. Even if I had my father out with me, but to be able to handle the mental pressures and the pressures of competition, for me, I wasn't ready to come out before high school.

But nowadays, girls are more equipped to do that. There's a lot more opportunities for them to compete at a high level even before they get out on the PGA TOUR. Michelle Wie is getting sponsor's exemptions and I didn't have that opportunity, even being the No. 1 Amateur and Junior in the country back then, times are just changing.

Maybe they do need to look at the age restriction, but yet again, I think it's a very good thing that it is the way it is, because you still need to grow up. You're still a kid. Even if you can win golf tournaments. It's kind of a double edged sword, and there's going to be a lot opinions both ways on it. I think it's good the way it is, and you'll have to kind of treat each individual case as it comes along. There's not going to be that many, I don't think.

Q. Inaudible?

CRISTIE KERR: I've only practiced a couple of times in the last week and missed Pro Am today because I was under the weather. I'm going to get out a couple hours early before my tee time tomorrow with my caddie and work out whatever we can work out to the best of our ability. Thank God in golf you don't need to be perfect to play well, and those who try and be perfect often don't. So we'll just get out tomorrow and do the best we can and we'll probably pick up on one or two swing keys tomorrow.

Q. Are you superstitious at all?

CRISTIE KERR: I used to be, but not so much anymore.

Q. I don't know how much you follow other players, but talking about Annika, but accomplishing a lot of her goals, what do you think keeps her motivated? Coming out this year, she has already won two of three tournaments; what keeps her the kind of player she is?

CRISTIE KERR: I think her drive, her will to win, she probably hates to lose more than anybody out here. I'm also a person that hates to lose. But in golf, typically, there's only one winner at the end of every week and I think she defies those odds. So her will, her absolute just raw will to win and hate to lose is one of those things that drives her to be the best, not only that she can be, but the best in the world, and she's proved that.

Q. A lot of people have to come back from adversity or struggles with parts of their game, but some struggle with losing their focus; is it difficult to keep your single mindedness after winning? Is it tough to win and then keep on winning?

CRISTIE KERR: I think so. I struggled a little bit with that in the first time that I won, in California. I didn't play well. Definitely the next couple of weeks, because I didn't know how to handle everything that came along with winning. I think I definitely have a better sense of how to handle that and keep my priorities in check.

So I think it's a little bit easier this time than it was the last.

Q. Playing when you were 18, obviously it's difficult to be a teen, and to play a professional sports, what were some of the particular difficulties you had when you first came out, trying to be who you were and also playing golf?

CRISTIE KERR: I think being a personality among when I first came out on TOUR being a personality among all of the Hall of Famers and all of the people that have all been very rounded years, very substantive careers, they have been out there a long time. They have won and I was a kid coming out. I don't think I had very high confidence when I first came out on TOUR, even though I was supposedly one of the best amateur or junior players in the country or in the world. I think that is part of why there's an age restriction.

Some girls may be able to do it better than others, but I had a hard time when I first came out on TOUR. It's a hard place to grow up.

Q. Looking back, do you regret not going to college?

CRISTIE KERR: From a competitive standpoint, no. From a personal growth standpoint, probably yes. But again, it's a double edged sword. You can't really have both. So I thought playing and turning pro was the best decision for me, and I don't have any regrets. I think certainly I would have grown into more of a mature person going to college for a couple of years, but unfortunately, you couldn't do both.

Q. What would you say to Michelle Wie, would you say go to college or turn pro?

CRISTIE KERR: I can't really get near her much of the time because she has so many people around her. (Laughter.)

You know, that's something you have to take a really hard look in the mirror and say: Am I ready for this; am I not ready for this; am I doing it for the right reasons; or am I doing it just to make money. I came out here on TOUR because I wanted to play golf, which is the game that I love. I wanted to play.

So, if you play well, the money comes along with it. Everything else comes along with it. But, you know, that's something she's going to have to take a hard look at. I can only make the decision for me.

NEAL REID: I understand this week you're rolling out a special charity this season that's involved with your performance, if you could talk about that.

CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, unfortunately I learned that my mother had developed breast cancer just after the U.S. Open last year. She actually had it for a couple of weeks and opted not to tell me till after the Open, but I wish I would have known. It was devastating to me.

And, you know, I did a lot of soul searching on how I could help, and I really you kind of feel helpless when you have a loved one that has this disease, watching them go through radiation treatment or having surgery, you kind of feel helpless. But I kind of stuck in and said, hey, is there really anything that I can try to do to basically kill the disease, try to eradicate this terrible disease that not only women have, but now men are getting, as well.

So breast cancer came up with the idea of starting my own foundation called "Birdies for Breast Cancer." We are launching a Web site tomorrow at 11:00 A.M. so you'll be able to go on the Web site. It's to raise money for breast cancer research, and I'm donating $50 for every birdie I make of my own money, $50 for every birdie I make and Mutual of Omaha, my sponsor, is matching that.

We are going to have a pledge page where people can do and donate a certain amount, even if it's a penny per birdie or just giving pledges or get corporations involved.

We are trying to get everybody involved because this is the fastest growing disease in America for women. So if you haven't had it yourself, and I'm at very high risk, you've known somebody that has breast cancer or you've had somebody in your family that's had it, it must be all of the women shaking their heads yes. My mother and her sister had it, and I'm at very high risk, and it scares the hell out of you. It absolutely scares you to death. I felt like I'm going to kind of make this my mission to raise as much money as I can could eradicate this terrible disease.

So we are launching the Web site tomorrow, and One Putt is my little birdie mascot, so he's going to be the host of the Web site. It is going to be great to get everybody involved. I hope all of you will help me in spreading the word and really just trying to make this program a huge success.

It's www.birdiesforbreastcancer.com.

Q. What is your mom's name and how is she doing?

CRISTIE KERR: My mom is Lynda Kerr. She's doing well. She just got her first mammogram after having a lumpectomy and having all of the radiation. It's a terrible disease. I saw her, and you get burns from the radiation and on your chest and everything, but it's horrible.

I came up with this idea for birdies for breast cancer after going to in my off time, I went up to New York City to attend a charitable event for benefitting for benefitting breast cancer research, an Esquire Magazine party. And just by chance, I met Evelyn Lauder, who is the founder of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. And I was up in New York on Monday attending their black tie gala where Elizabeth Hurley was there, and Elton John gave a private performance, and they raised $5 million for breast cancer research.

One thing that draws me into Evelyn's foundation is they pledge a minimum of 85 cents out of every dollar going directly to the research, and there is an unbelievable advances being made through her foundation and giving it directly to the researchers where, you know, for instance some gene was discovered and linked to another gene. And you go through all the red tape and maybe five years down the road, there could be funding to go and find the correlation between the two genes. Whereas they give all of the money they can give to the research, which may be will create an advance six months from now instead of six years from now.

So that's why I was really intrigued by her foundation and Breast Cancer Research Foundation is the foundation I'm looking at giving my money too.

Q. For the rest of the season how difficult, was it for you to keep your focus on golf?

CRISTIE KERR: Very difficult. Very difficult. I did not play well for probably a month and a half after learning that, and spent some time at home with her. You know, you just even as early as you catch it, you just never know, and you never really think anything is going to happen until something actually happens.

Unfortunately it kind of slaps you in the face and makes you realize how valuable life is. I was devastated. I got so sick, like she told me the Sunday of the Open when I was driving up to Vancouver. I got so sick, I couldn't play in that tournament. I was in bed in three days, in Canada, about as far away from Miami as you could possibly be and I was absolutely in agony. Just, A, I couldn't breathe because I was so sick, and knowing my mom was going through all this and about as far away from her as I could be. So, it was terrible.

Q. Do you recall when you got home finally what the reunion was like?

CRISTIE KERR: Just a lot of emotions, being terrified as to what would happen because, you know, they see whatever they see on the mammogram, but when they get in there, you really don't know whether they are going to have that take an entire breast out or whether they can save the breast by doing the lumpectomy. You just don't know what you can do until you get in there.

There's a lot of emotions as to what was going to happen with the surgery and the recovery, and my mom had already had a heart attack and some other health issues. So it was a little bit more complicated probably than a person who had not had any other health problems leading into having breast cancer.

So I'm going to have to start getting mammograms probably at the end of the season, and that scares the hell out of you.

Q. What ultimately happened with the surgery?

CRISTIE KERR: They got it all out and they did radiation, which she had to go five times a week for eight weeks. Even a two , three minute treatment, the whole front of her chest she showed me the whole front of her chest was almost black because it was so burned. She couldn't lift her arms, she was still going to work, it was just horrible.

Q. Sometimes when a parent is ill, they almost handle it better than the children who are worried about it; was your mom strong through the whole thing?

CRISTIE KERR: I think we were all doing pretty well with it because she was so upbeat about it. I think, as she says, when you find out you have something like this, you're hungry for knowledge to learn about it. She researched like every Web site that had information on it and found a group, a support group, and kind of went to that and because of her she was very emotional, obviously, because it's cancer. But she did everything she could to kind of educate herself on the disease and things she could do, squeeze fresh juice in the morning or whatever you had to do to try and get through it.

So that helped a lot for us, my sister and I, and even my father, who they are divorced now. Everybody was in great support of what she was doing and that made it easier that she was so proactive. Some people kind of just curl up in a little ball and say, hey, well this is going to defeat me, but that's not my mom.

End of FastScripts.

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