June 2, 1996
SOUTHERN PINES, NORTH CAROLINA
RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, this is Cristie Kerr, she's a high school student from Miami, she's only 18 years old, and she has just tied the amateur scoring record in the United States Women's Open. She's our low amateur. Her scores 73, 73, 76, 69, and a 291 total; previously was set by Debbi Koyama in 1993 and Carol Semple Thompson matched that in 1994. We'll have that for you later in your notes section. Well, Cristie, great work. Tell us how you did it; how do you feel being low amateur?
CRISTIE KERR: It feels great. I didn't expect it. Maria had me by six shots coming into today. I just went out with a game plan, hit good shots, and give yourself putts at it. I had been putting good all week. I hit a few more greens today.
RHONDA GLENN: Was the course playing a little softer, you think, or a little easier than it has been earlier in the week or had you just adjusted to it?
CRISTIE KERR: I don't think the course is playing any softer than any of the other previous days. It was actually playing a little bit different than any other day, and that's usual for the golf course. I played three practice rounds Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and the golf course played differently every day. And as that is true, it's true today, because it played differently today than any other day.
RHONDA GLENN: You are also the youngest member of the United States Curtis Cup Team, and the team is staying here to practice the next three days. Are you going to be playing with them?
CRISTIE KERR: No. Unfortunately, I have to go home tomorrow and get a wisdom tooth taken out, and I have to take finals.
RHONDA GLENN: Still in high school.
Q. What was it like after you tripled 2, is that what you did?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I tripled 2. I hit it way right and chipped out into the first cut of rough, which is right off the fairway, and I hit a bit too much club into the back bunker, and I couldn't see my ball walking up to the green. And I'm like, God, just give me a good lie, because the pin is real tight off the green. And I walked up and I noticed that it was about six feet from the downhill lip of the bunker, so I just said, oh, geez, and proceeded to try and get it out. Didn't get it out. And almost made the putt, but I made triple.
RHONDA GLENN: You got at least four birdies, then, today?
CRISTIE KERR: I birdied 1. I birdied No. 5, the par 3. That was --
RHONDA GLENN: That's a great birdie.
CRISTIE KERR: I was happy with that one.
RHONDA GLENN: What did you hit in there?
CRISTIE KERR: I hit a 3-iron to about pin high left, about 25, 30 feet or so. I birdied No. 12. I hit it about a foot. 13, I hit it about six feet and made it. And then 18 --
RHONDA GLENN: Great finish.
CRISTIE KERR: I was happy with that.
Q. Cris, can you just talk about your comfort level playing in events like this now compared to when you first tried to play pro events?
CRISTIE KERR: I guess that would be the '94 Sprint. Yeah, it's a lot different now. I'm two years older, and I would think a little bit more mature, and a lot more comfortable playing out here. I've had a lot of experience in amateur tournaments and mini tour events and junior golf, as you know, and I just find that each time I'm out here I'm becoming a little bit more comfortable in playing in the circumstances and learning how to play within myself and not worrying about what the leader board says or what this putt means or what the shot means. I try and just play every shot for what it is. I think I'm becoming a little bit more comfortable out here.
Q. We're all kind of watching this and listening to you at the same time. What's it like when you're playing with a player who's got a lead and hits every green and hits every fairway like Annika is doing right now, and you're trying to make up ground, and there doesn't seem to be any mistake at all forthcoming; it's almost a robot type experience?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, that's what makes you win tournaments, like Annika is doing right now. It's almost like she's on cruise control and she's making no mistakes. That's what has to happen to win major championships. That's what she did last year, and that's what she's doing now. As far as a player playing with her -- you mean if I was Brandie Burton playing with her?
Q. I suppose.
CRISTIE KERR: I think Brandie has to play her own game. I would be playing my own game. Of course it's going to be frustrating if none of the putts are dropping for you and every putt is dropping for her, but you have to go out and play your own game and congratulate the winner at the end.
Q. What plans do you have to get your game slowly to the point that you're in an Open and contending someday? What do you see as your progression? What do you need to do? What have you done so far and how will it all come together?
CRISTIE KERR: Hopefully with a lot of hard work and a lot of mistakes and learning from those mistakes, that I can hopefully one day be contending in a major championship. Maybe I should be looking at the TV screen. (Laughter.)
RHONDA GLENN: Cristie, you've won a number of big amateur tournaments, does this cap your amateur career, being low amateur in the Open when only two amateurs make the cut?
CRISTIE KERR: It's one of the climaxes. I'm playing in the Curtis Cup and representing the United States with seven other people. I would say that this is, if not, more equal to that.
Q. What's your schedule after the Curtis Cup?
CRISTIE KERR: Coming back from the Curtis Cup, and I know I'm going to play some tournaments, but I'm not sure exactly which ones they are. But coming back on the plane, I'm pro, I guess that's how it is.
RHONDA GLENN: When you come back on the plane, you're turning pro?
CRISTIE KERR: Yes. Or the day after, if you will.
RHONDA GLENN: At the age of 18? Has this been a long-range goal?
CRISTIE KERR: I've pretty much known since I've started, since I was nine. I used to watch Nancy Lopez on the television, and all those great players, and I used to say, wow. I used to go up to them and get autographs and say maybe this is what I want to do. And God knows I've worked hard, and with his help I can hopefully achieve that goal one day.
RHONDA GLENN: So no college for you, then?
CRISTIE KERR: I plan to go. But the only reason I didn't go is because academically for me it's hard for me to accept that I wouldn't put all my efforts into my academics, because I have over a 4.0 average in high school. And for me to go and do that with half an effort and try and do golf full effort and maybe not succeed at that, then I don't think I would have given it my all.
Q. The timing of your decision to turn pro, what will you gain by turning pro early in the summer, since you can't go through the tour qualifying until later in the year?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I'm hoping just to get playing and get used to tournament conditions and playing like that. I'm hopefully going to just get my game in shape, really, for the qualifying school.
Q. How many sponsors exemptions can you get?
CRISTIE KERR: As far as I know LPGA allows you to get four. And from what I understand, what I believe to be true, even if I qualify for an event, that's my spot in the event. So I've played this year in the Healthsouth, the Dinah Shore and the Sprint, which I was invited to, so I'm allowed one more. Hopefully I'll get one. I don't know which one that will be. And this Open, of course, does not count for those exemptions.
Q. Cristie, I know you put a lot of thought in this, but was there one specific point where the decision was made; was it at the Healthsouth, playing well there?
CRISTIE KERR: I think it was -- actually, it was my father said to me -- I actually asked my dad, what would it take for you to back me in my decision to turn pro, if that's what I wanted to do when I was a senior in high school? He said it would not only have to be his decision, but a number of other people that are close to me, like my family and maybe my golf teacher. He said to me that I would have to at least win a mini tour event and some major amateur events. And I think it was at the Women's Western Amateur Tournament this year when I prevailed in the final that I actually realized that I could do this.
RHONDA GLENN: Thank you very much.
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