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June 25, 2013

Cristie Kerr


CHRISTINA LANCE:  Welcome back, everyone.  The 68th playing of the U.S. Women's Open here at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York.  I'm very happy to welcome 2007 Women's Open champion, Cristie Kerr.  Joining us here right now, Cristie, you're perhaps one of the players in the field with the most experience here at Sebonack.  Without giving too many trade secrets away, what kind of tips would you give to the field?
CRISTIE KERR:  To the field?  None (laughing).  No, but I've certainly done my homework, and I've got everything charted in my yardage book and I'm ready to go.

Q.  What are your thoughts about this course?  You've obviously played it a fair amount.
CRISTIE KERR:  I think it's a spectacular golf course.  It's got such a cool feel being here in the Hamptons and near the water.  And all the Fescue, to me, it's very Hamptons.  I come out here a bunch.  I spend some time in New York City in the summertime, so I get to come out here and hang out a bit.
Yeah, I play this course a bunch.  And it's tough.  It's starting to firm up out there.  You really have to know with what pins, where they're going to put the pin locations, where you can and can't hit it.  You're going to have to play it off some backstops, and it's going to be a great test.

Q.  How much of an advantage do you think that experience will be here?  Because it seems like this is a place where it takes a lot of time to learn all the intricacies?
CRISTIE KERR:  Yeah, I think experience counts for a lot, but you still have to play good, solid golf.  Obviously, nobody's ever teed it up here in a tournament before, so there is going to be a little bit of a learning curve, I think.  You've just got to hit your shot where you're looking this week and not get greedy and try to manage your game around the course.

Q.  You've played here in various times of the year, various conditions.  How is it now compared to other times that you've played here?  What are the conditions like?
CRISTIE KERR:  I think in the past it's been a lot softer in any of the outings that I've played here.  It's a lot more firm and fast, like even since yesterday the golf course is getting a little brown in spots.  The fairways are getting those round brown spots and the greens are getting a lot firmer.  So with the heat and possibly the wind here, they just have to make sure it doesn't get kind of ridiculous.  Because they could lose control of this golf course fairly quickly with the heat and the wind and as firm as things are getting right now.
I played the morning today, too.

Q.  Cristie, do you still live and have a place in New York?  And what is your connection out here that you hang out?  Do you stay with friends out here?  Is that how you're out here so much?
CRISTIE KERR:  Sure.  Yeah, we have a place in the West Village that is an investment property.  We probably spend maybe 50, 60 days a year here.  Just helps with the travel, as much as we do travel, to be able to have kind of a little bit of a home base out of New York.  Mike Pascucci is a good friend of mine.  He owns the golf course.  I've come out here and played the golf course a bunch and got to stay in the cottages, which are going for a lot of money this week.
I'm staying with friends this week, so it's just sort of like kind of a home feel to it.

Q.  Looking back to the last decade or so, there's been a handful of women who had a pretty dominant run going back to Annika and Lorena and most recently Yani, and now Inbee seems to be maybe approaching that.  Is there a common denominator that you've seen with their play as to how they've been able to sustain that kind of run and how difficult that can be?
CRISTIE KERR:  Well, the most recent is obviously Inbee.  She's already won two majors this year and won four tournaments and played really well.  You just have to do everything well to be No. 1 in the world.  To win multiple majors a year, you have to do everything well and you've got to get the breaks too.  It's no secret.  It's just you've got to do it better than everybody else.

Q.  You mentioned you're staying with friends.  What are you going to do to get away from golf and relax during these next six days or so?
CRISTIE KERR:  Well, we're staying on the beach.  That's a pretty good start.  Just do what I normally do.
The Open is a busy week, and just kind of manage your time and stay home and kind of cook in and just relax.

Q.  Everybody's talking about this as a second‑shot course.  Do you agree with that?  And with your experience, would that especially play to your advantage?
CRISTIE KERR:  Well, I'm hoping everything plays to my advantage this week.  But you have to hit good tee balls here too.  There are a lot of holes, if you miss it in the wrong spot, you're an automatic bogey.  Yeah, obviously, if you hit it on every fairway, it's a second‑shot course.  But you have to play every shot really well here.  It's going to be a great test.

Q.  Do you think there is a possibility that these greens, which are very undulating and kind of sloped a lot, could get out of hand this week where you could see a lot of almost impossible pin locations?
CRISTIE KERR:  They could easily lose control of this course because of the topography of the land and how firm it's getting already.  They just need to watch it.  I've seen it firm up on like Thursday, Friday, but not on like Tuesday morning that often.  So I think that speaks to this golf course and how fast it can dry out.  So they've just got to watch it.
They're really good at what they do, so they just have to kind of watch it.

Q.  How much different does this play from the way it plays in the past when you just play it recreationally, so to speak?
CRISTIE KERR:  Yeah, I think I just answered that before.  It's a lot more firm and fast.
Another answer I was going to tell you about how fast the conditions can change here is look what happened at Shinnecock one of the last times the Open was here where everybody thought it was okay, and then like even morning to mid‑day rounds they lost a couple of those greens and it became impossible.  It's this area.  It's just how it sits up.  And the wind, it's exposed, the heat.  This is the hottest temperatures of the year so far, so they just have to watch it.

Q.  You kind of anticipated my next question about Shinnecock.  Do you remember‑‑ I know you're always busy playing at that time, but do you remember seeing any highlights or anything of how it got away that last day and the players were just beside themselves?
CRISTIE KERR:  I saw it on TV like everybody else did.  I wasn't there, obviously.  But I even talked to Corey Pavin about this, about how really this time of the year can really dry out fast in this area.
Like I said, they just have to be on top of it, and make sure it's fair.  It is an Open, but it still has to be fair.

Q.  Obviously, since 2004, the USGA has completely changed how they do course set‑ups because of Shinnecock, so they monitor that.  I'm wondering do they get feedback from players specifically?  Do you have conversations with Mike Davis and the other staffers in terms of what you're seeing out there?
CRISTIE KERR:  They ride around and from time to time will ask you what are you thinking?  What's going on?  Hit a shot for me here or there.  But there's not that much interaction between the players and the USGA on the whole.  Like I said, they're very good at what they do.
It was unfortunate what happened at Shinnecock.  Everybody learned from it rather, and they know what they're doing.

Q.  Can you talk about winning the National Championship, as an American what that means to you, your one win, and what it would mean this week?
CRISTIE KERR:  God, I mean, winning the U.S. Open, God, especially almost in a hometown, pretty close to home for me, it would mean anything, everything, just the world.  Words can't describe.  If I have a chance on Sunday, I'm going to have to kind of win that battle within myself not to get ahead and not to get too emotional.  You can always have that glass of celebratory champagne after you get done playing.  It's going to be an exciting week.
I think there is going to be a lot of drama.  Long Island brings the best out in people, so I think you're going to see a lot of great golf this week.

Q.  I know you're involved with a lot of patriotic things, you're very proud of your country.  What are your thoughts about the state of women's golf in America?  What is the cool factor in golf like right now?  Do you find when you talk to young people‑‑ is golf cool?
CRISTIE KERR:  Golf's definitely cool.  We have a really international TOUR.  If you've looked at the number of Americans that have played in ten events or more that have the premier status on our TOUR, ten years ago, a lot more than nowadays.  I think we're very international, and I think we need to keep that.  But I also think that we need to build golf in America up again for women, because we only have about ten events in the U.S.  If we got five more that would just do wonders to round out the TOUR.

Q.  How do you do that?  How do you build up golf in America?
CRISTIE KERR:  Sponsors.  You have to go out and actively seek them.  You have to lift your TOUR up, and you have to‑‑ I mean, money makes everything happen.  It makes tournaments happen, sponsorships happen.  Our TOUR is 100% sponsorship driven.  Without sponsors, we don't have tournaments, and without tournaments, we don't have a career.  It's an endless cycle.
If we could get four, five, six more tournaments in the U.S., that would really make us very well rounded.  It would also help to build USGA Girls Golf, and LPGA Girl's Golf in the States.

Q.  You mentioned the common denominator.  You were asked that question.  They just do everything well.  But what mentally does it take?  You've reached that point before about being No. 1, but what does it take to stay there once you've reached No. 1, like Inbee's doing now?
CRISTIE KERR:  I obviously reached No. 1 and so did Stacy.  It's really hard to stay there.  You need that elevated state of mind that you have when you're winning majors to be able to stay there.  You need to do it well every day, every tournament day that you play.  It's hard to really describe that to somebody that hasn't done that.  It's not out of not wanting to, it's just hard to describe it.  But the mental part is even stronger than the physical part.

Q.  I've asked this of a couple of other players, but there seems to be in women's golf they have a series of extraordinarily dominant players for a period of a year or two, starting with Annika and Lorena, Yani.  There doesn't seem to be that in the men's game where you have a dominant player for a long period of time.  Do you have any thoughts on why that is?
CRISTIE KERR:  Well, I mean, you can look at Tiger and say he was pretty dominant for a long time.  But if you look at Annika and Lorena, between them they were dominant for about 14 years, so that is a long period of time.
It's changed hands a lot in the last couple of years, but that's because it's getting more competitive.  It's hard to stay at No. 1.

Q.  You've been on TOUR for 17 years, yet you seem more motivated and hungrier than ever.  A, is that true?  And B, how do you maintain that motivation?
CRISTIE KERR:  A, yes, definitely; and B, winning makes you motivated.  Winning makes you want to win more.  Makes a lot of other things, whether it's helping people through cancer research or whatever you want to do with your house or whatever it is, family, winning makes everything better, and it's fun to win.  It's fun to be on top, come out on top.
So winning motivates me.  It's great that I've won a couple tournaments in the last 12 starts or 14 starts since last year.  It's just fun to win.  I love to win and I hate to lose, so winning definitely motivates me.

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