Kerr on a Mission at US Open Be the Best

By Golf Channel NewsroomJune 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 U.S. WomenCristie Kerr has this grand plan. First of all, she wants to become the top American woman golfer. After that, she hopes to take on the rest of the world.
 
Kerr and the best women players on the universe meet this week in South Hadley, Mass., for the U.S. Womens Open. In order for Kerr to win, she will have to overcome some awesome talent. Annika Sorenstam is No. 1, of course. Shes a native of Sweden. Number 2 is up for debate, but its probably Grace Park or Se Ri Pak, both Korean natives. Mexicos Lorena Ochoa is making a serious bid for somewhere near the top. Karrie Webb has slipped a little, but the Australian is still up there. Womens golf has truly gone worldwide.
 
Kerr, though, is rising fast. She has already won twice this year and finished second to Sorenstam in another. She appears ready to supplant 43-year-old Juli Inkster at the top of the U.S. roster.
 
It's definitely one of my goals, to be the top American player, said Kerr, now 26 years old. It's quite an honor. You have to work hard for it, but it's definitely one of my goals.
 
And should she achieve that honor? Then what?
 
I dont want to get ahead of myself, of course, she said. But why not think of player of the year? Why not dare to dream? Why not put those goals ahead of you?'
 
Kerr thinks highly of all the international players on the LPGA. But she also recognizes what must seem obvious ' its time for an American to do something. Its almost imperative for there to be at least one U.S. star, someone who is always a threat to win.
 
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, said Kerr.
 
The American players, I think we do have to start playing better. I think it's going to only help our tour.
 
Sorenstam will be the favorite to win this week, of course. She has four wins already this year, including one major ' the McDonalds LPGA Championship. She and Kerr will play together the first two rounds Thursday and Friday. Kerr, as always, will learn something watching Sorenstam navigate around the course.
 
I think her drive, her will to win - she probably hates to lose more than anybody out here, Kerr said in describing the No. 1 player.
 
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 (Sorenstam) defies those odds. So her will, her absolute just raw will to win and hatred of losing 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.
 
Kerr is playing in her eighth season now, having made the leap right from a Miami high school to the LPGA, bypassing college. It took a few years to mature, to become accustomed to having a life away from her parents. It took six years before she finally won for the first time. But regardless, she is proceeding right along according to her own schedule.
 
I think I'm exactly where I need to be right now, she said. I think everything happens for a reason. It's such a cliched saying, but I really believe that 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 Longs 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 Im starting to be ready for this.
 
Kerr isnt necessarily advocating her route to the pros. It worked for her professionally, she says, but she would have loved to have gone to college to develop and mature socially. But she says she is glad she at least finished high school.
 
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, she said. 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.
 
In spite of her successes, the year has not been without tragedy for Kerr. She learned that her mother has breast cancer just after the Womens Open last year. Mother Linda continues to battle the illness, and Kerr has responded with a Birdies for Breast Cancer program in which she contributes for each birdie made. She also has a website to encourage others to contribute.
 
I did not play well for probably a month and a half after learning that, said Cristie, and I spent some time at home with her. You know, 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.
 
Kerr has grown up since she came to the professional ranks fresh out of English class. But she thinks she finally has learned not to be afraid of winning.
 
I struggled a little bit with that in the first time that I won, in California, she said. 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.
 
And she has learned so much, grown so much.
 
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, said Kerr. 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.
 
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.