Kerr, 40, showing no signs of slowing; eyeing HOF

By Randall Mell, Associated PressOctober 12, 2017, 1:40 pm

Cristie Kerr wasn’t looking back as she celebrated her 40th Thursday during the first round of the KEB Hana Bank Championship.

She was looking ahead, at what she is still aiming to conquer.

“Definitely winning another major is a goal,” Kerr told GolfChannel.com. “And the Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it.

“And I haven’t won in Asia, so that’s a new goal.”

Kerr, a 19-time LPGA winner, won her first Ladies European Tour title last week, claiming the LaCoste Ladies Open in France. She put herself in early position Thursday to check off that goal of winning in Asia.

With a 5-under-par 67, Kerr moved a shot off the lead, despite feeling a bit ill after the long trip from France to Incheon.

“I’ve been a little bit under the weather since I got here,” Kerr said. “My throat hurts a little bit, so just going to get rested up for tomorrow.”

With her 19 LPGA titles, two of them majors, Kerr has accumulated 21 LPGA Hall of Fame points. She needs six more to earn induction. A player gets two points for winning a major, one for winning a regular LPGA tour title and one point each for winning a Rolex Player of the Year Award or Vare Trophy for low scoring average. Kerr has already met World Golf Hall of Fame playing requirements and will become eligible for induction when she turns 50, or is five years removed from active tour membership.


Full-field scores from the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship


While 40 hasn’t historically been a formidable barrier in the men’s game, the women’s game is so much younger than the men’s. The average age of the top-10 players in the women’s world rankings this week is 25.3 years old. The average age of the winners on tour last year was 22 years old.

Kerr is undaunted by those numbers.

She has won twice this year, taking the Lotte Championship back in April.

“I want to win in my 40s as well and prove it’s not just a game for the 20-somethings,” she said.

Kerr need only look across the practice range at a tour event to find Juli Inkster as inspiration for continuing to pursue new goals. Inkster, 57, an LPGA Hall of Famer, is still an active tour member out on a regular basis.

“I’m still a grinder with my practice,” Kerr said back in July when she got in contention at the U.S. Women’s Open. “I love to practice. I love to compete. I often say golf was the first thing I ever fell in love with, and it's a relationship that you can have for a lifetime. 

“Julie Inkster has always been an idol of mine in that respect. If you have the desire to do it . . . I've won many times in my 30s, and now when I’m 39. I want to try to break some of the stereotypes out here, win in my 40s and 50s. Why not?”

Kerr’s consistency over the years has been impressive. She has won in 12 of the last 16 years.

“I think it’s my work ethic,” Kerr said. “I’ve also started training more recently, as well. I’m way more focused on that in the last year.”

Kerr’s success radiates beyond the game in meaningful ways. She showed that again last week winning France, an event set up to benefit the fight against cancer, a cause that is dear to Kerr’s heart.

Kerr, who founded Birdies For Breast Cancer more than a decade ago, has raised almost $4 million for the cause. Her efforts spearheaded funding of the Jersey City Medical Center’s Cristie Kerr Women’s Health Center. Kerr’s mother, Linda, is a breast cancer survivor.

Kerr said she played in France with Peggy “Pam” Kuehne and Cassandra Kirkland in mind. Kuehne, matriarch to the Kuehne golf family, died of cancer the week of the event. Kirkland was an LET winner who died of lung cancer earlier this year. Kerr donated $5,000 to the event’s cancer cause.

“I’m sorry, but f--- cancer,” a teary-eyed Kerr told reporters after winning. “I’m so sorry to say the F word, but I’m so sick of people losing people to cancer.”

That might rank as one of the most heartfelt, meaningful and excusable F-bombs an athlete ever dropped. In fact, the passion in the remark might have won Kerr as many new fans as winning the title did.

Kerr said winning in France ranked among her most meaningful victories.

“Because it’s hard to lose people,” Kerr said Thursday in South Korea. “Everybody either knows somebody or has somebody in their family that’s been affected by cancer. We’ve got to find a way to cure it. The only way to do that is to keep raising money.”

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.


DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”