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Apr 16

Cristie Kerr Wins Lotte

It’s Been A Little While, But Kerr is Still Here

I’m never quite sure what to think about this part of the new LPGA year, and the same holds true for the men’s. They are playing golf for one thing, and it’s still a little cold to do that where I live.  Secondly, they’re all visiting some of the earth’s beest beauty spots, places I would love to drop in on, something I’m not presently at leisure to do. On the other hand, it’s a new year for golf, and the weekly competitions keep me fascinated, not only for the game, but for the ins and outs of the various players, along with their distinct personalities and stories. This week, it is Cristie Kerr’s job to keep me fascinated with the LPGA drama in Hawaii. The Lotte Championship just finished up, another demonstration that it’s not over until it’s over.

Among the other dualities of my observing the LPGA schedule is that I am on one hand fascinated by people who are children compared to me, and yet have mastered the game and its essential maturity, years before I ever did. On the other hand, I get a certain pleasure, partly nostalgic and partle age-affirming, when the veterans come back into the picture and take a trophy over the child wizards.That’s where Cristie Kerr did me proud. Of course, my cheering for older players is not really rational. The new wave of great female golfers are young enough to be my granchildren, where Kerr is not all that much older than my daughter, late thirty-ish, almost forty-ish. And yet, it works. I love to see someone who is not washed up by the age of thirty in this game, and Kerr is anything but washed up.
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The Lotte began on Wednesday at the Alina Golf Club in Kapolei, and for three rounds, it appeared as though another brand new sensation was going to run away with the whole thing. Su-Yeon Jang, yet one more gifted twenty-something golfer coming out of South Korea, led for much of the way and finished the third round five strokes ahead of the eventual winner. She was there on a sponsor invite, and made excellent use of it. Kerr, however, pulled off a late fally, beginning on the back nine of round three, carding a 29 and needing only eight putts for eight holes. Does she realize how unreal that sounds for a weekender? Eventually, Kerr went 52 holes without a bogey, a similarly unthinkable feat more most of us. Not bad for a thirty to forty-something.

It felt as though it has been a long time since we have heard from Cristie Kerr, but it hasn’t, really. True, 30 tournaments have gone by without a win, but that’s not so unusual, unless you’re one of two or three on tour. To view it idfferently, Kerr won the CME Group Tour at the end of 2015. That doesn’t sound washed-up in the least, does it? Younger fans might not remember it, but a Cristie Kerr victory is not a big surprise. She’s won 19 events in her time, and two majors, including a U.S. Women’s Open.
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My eye is not drawn to win and loss records as they once were. What is interesting to me is Kerr’s format for donating to breast cancer research by chipping in $50 per birdie. She was there as her aunt, grandmother, and mother fought the disease. Her participation in the effort goes far beyond birdies, of course, and while on that subject, we should note that Kerr finished the Lotte at minus 20 for the four days, a course record. That’s a lot of birdies. We should also note that her victory was completed with an attempt at the hula with the indigenous dancers present. I can’t do that, either, so I won’t judge, since it’s so cool that she tried.

The lesson for the whippersnappers is to watch out, even with a lead going into Sunday.. Cristie’s not done yet.
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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.