Little Warrior

By Randall MellJune 28, 2010, 4:01 am
LPGA ChampionshipPITTSFORD, N.Y. – Cristie Kerr has evolved in the long, hard climb to the top of the mountain.

Charlie De Lucca could see the strongest evidence of that yet a thousand miles away as he watched Kerr win the LPGA Championship Sunday on television from his home in Miami.

DeLucca, known as the “Godfather of South Florida Golf,” watched Kerr annihilate the competition when she was growing up in Miami. As executive director of the Dade Amateur Golf Association, he marveled at the cold, ruthless little competitor who never seemed satisfied or content as she rose to No. 1 in the national junior rankings.

That’s what DeLucca was thinking about as he watched Kerr rout the world’s best women pretty much the same way she did South Florida’s best all those years ago.

Cristie Kerr
Cristie Kerr had six birdies and no bogeys in the final round. (Getty Images)
That’s what he was thinking about with all those fans at Locust Hill chanting “USA” and Kerr beaming over the knowledge that she’ll become the first American to ascend to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings when they’re released on Monday.

“I sent Cristie a text Saturday night,” DeLucca said. “I told her I’ve never seen her look like she was enjoying the game more. She just looks different. You can still see when she gets mad about shots, but she’s never looked more in control of herself. She just looks like she’s having fun.”

Kerr literally let her hair down walking onto the 18th green.

She took off her cap, undid her pony tail, and shook her long, blond hair to the delight of the raucous crowd flocked around the final hole.

Still, with Kerr’s final shot, DeLucca could see something internal hasn’t changed at all.

Back when Kerr was growing up in Miami, DeLucca remembers a junior introducing herself to Kerr on the first tee before a match.

“Hi, I’m Susie Smith,” the junior said

The name could have been Jones or Johnson or Floyd.

“Hi,” Kerr shot back. “I’m the girl who’s going to kick your butt today.”

Kerr used a word other than butt.

DeLucca said Kerr went 1-up before a match began after more than one exchange like that.

“She told Robert Floyd she was going to kick his butt when they played in high school,” DeLucca said.

That would be Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd Jr’s son. She beat him, too. Kerr played for the boys’ team at Sunset High, Floyd for Country Day.

“Cristie was just tough,” DeLucca said. “She wasn’t afraid of anybody. She had some hard times, and she could upset some people, but she was just so dedicated and driven.”

Kerr, 32, a 14-time LPGA winner with two major championships to her credit, has evolved. She doesn’t tell playing partners she’s going to kick their butts anymore. She might be thinking it, though.

“Inside the ropes, she’s still a killer out there,” said Jason Gilroyed, her caddie. “She just kept the pedal down all day. She never let up.”

It wasn’t because she was going for a record, Gilroyed said. He didn’t have a sense that she was even aware of how far she was pulling away from the field after opening the final round with that eight-shot lead.

“It was a dream performance,” Kerr said. “I didn’t limit myself. I just wanted to see how far I could take it. It took it pretty far.”

LPGA Champ. at Crossroads
By Randall Mell

So where does the LPGA Championship go from here? The question lingers in the wake of Cristie Kerr’s victory Sunday at Locust Hill Country Club.This was originally planned as the temporary home of the LPGA Championship with Wegmans the temporary presenting sponsor ... Read More

The only number Kerr seemed to have in mind was winning her bet with Gilroyed.

The bet was Gilroyed would have to pay for groceries for the week when they play the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont if she shot at least 2-under on Sunday. If she shot 4-under or better, Gilroyed would also have to pay for the wine. Gilroyed said he doesn’t know how many folks he’ll be feeding, but the house they’re renting in suburban Pittsburgh has six bedrooms.

“I’ll be out a couple thousand dollars,” Gilroyed said.

The caddie couldn’t be happier about it. His percentage of the $337,500 first-place check will help. Kerr’s come a long way in her climb to No. 1. She turned pro at 18 with her parents splitting up and on their way to divorce as she struggled to establish herself.

'There were times when she could look lost,' DeLucca said.

Kerr looks back at all of it now and sees how it shaped where she is today.

“I’ve been this competitive since I was 10 years old,” Kerr said. “My father was very competitive as a baseball player. My mother was a competitive swimmer. Both of my parents are fighters. They told me never to give up. I gave up once when I was 9 or 10, and I didn’t hear the end of it. That’s the last time I’ve ever given up on a golf course.”

Kerr was a chubby, prickly teen who didn’t make friends easily when she first hit the tour, but she’s evolved. There’s evidence of that in the foundation she established to help fight breast cancer after her mother was diagnosed with the disease. There’s her well documented physical transformation that’s landed her on the cover of women’s magazines, and there’s the social transformation. She counts Natalie Gulbis and Morgan Pressel as close friends. She credits her husband, Erik Stevens, for helping her evolve since they married in ‘06.

“I’ve won one tournament without my husband,” Kerr said. “I’ve won all the others with him. He’s been one of the biggest influences on me becoming a better person, changing and evolving and giving back.”

Unfortunately, for Kerr’s fellow competitors, the evolution hasn’t softened the little warrior within who wants to kick their butts.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm