Kerr's notes: Kaymer's challenge; Pinehurst's divots

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 14, 2014, 1:10 am

(Editor's note: Cristie Kerr, the 2007 U.S. Women's Open champion, is filing a daily blog with, offering her views on watching the men at Pinehurst No. 2 as the women get ready to play it next week for the U.S. Women's Open.)


Martin Kaymer certainly has our attention. Watching a player run away with the lead against a strong field in a major championship is compelling, because it just doesn’t happen very often. You have to have everything going right for a long time to get that far ahead. It's something special to see.

We’re all going to be watching how Kaymer handles the pressure of a weekend at a U.S. Open. Can he keep playing good golf if he gets a bad break? And you know there are going to be bad breaks when you hit it in that “stuff,” the waste areas at Pinehurst No. 2. There’s an element of luck going in there, so getting a bad lie feels like bad luck. It’s interesting to see how players handle bad breaks. You can’t underestimate the mental toll a bad break can take, or the momentum shift it can create going into a tough stretch of holes.

I’ve had big leads and extended them, and I’ve had big leads and barely held on to them.

I had a five-shot lead going into the weekend at the LPGA Championship at Locust Hill in 2010, was up by eight shots going into Sunday, and won by 12.

I was up by five going into the final round at the Long Drugs Challenge back in 2002, but didn't play tremendously well, and only managed to win by a shot. That was my first victory.

When I had the big lead at the LPGA Championship, I didn’t feel any less pressure to go out and do what I had done for the first three days. You just have to go out and win the day, win that battle with yourself. Even with that big lead, Kaymer has to go out and try to play like he’s down. That’s the hardest thing to do in sports - to close out a victory. It will be interesting to watch how he handles himself.

Kerr on Day 1: Waste areas will hurt women more than men

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Watching the U.S. Open on TV again Friday, I still can't get over how brown the course looks. We’re just not used to seeing that at a U.S. Open, and I’m looking forward to seeing it myself when I get down there on Sunday.

I’m getting asked a lot about divots and how much of a factor they may be with the U.S. Women’s Open also being played at Pinehurst No. 2 next week. My answer is that we play courses with divots every week. I’m sure I’ll find myself in a divot at some point, but I prepare for it. I practice shots out of divots on a weekly basis. With the greens as hard as they are to hit in regulation, I do have questions about the divots we may see in the collection areas around the greens. You tend to see balls gathering in common pockets, and that can create challenges.

Hitting a shot out of a divot in the fairway isn’t a huge deal, unless it’s an unusually deep divot. Obviously, hitting out of any divot is not the same as hitting from a clean lie, but it’s more of a concern around the greens. When you’re trying to get up and down, and you want to leave your ball in a particular spot, the lie is important in determining the kind of shot you’re going to hit. Watching on TV, I can’t really tell if divots are going to be a problem around the greens. I’ve watched the men putting from the off the greens this week, and I’ve watched them bump 3-woods, but I’ve also seen them hitting wedges. With the course softer than the men probably expected it to be, they’ve been able to hit wedges around the greens and have more control of their ball. They take more divots doing that.

I take pride in my putting, but I won’t be able to tell how much I’ll be able to putt from off those greens until I get there. The rule of thumb is that any time you can get a putter in your hand, it’s easier, but we’ll see. You have to read the grain around the banks of those greens. They mow in different directions at a U.S. Open. If you’re into the grain, putting may not be the best play. If you’re with the grain, putting may be the play. You make the play that allows you to hit the shot with the best speed, the shot with the most room for error.

The U.S. Women’s Open is approaching quickly, so it won’t be long before I’ll be making those decisions.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.