Kerr worked a lot of overtime to win last year's Takefuji Classic. Back to defend her title, she certainly would like to repeat, but maybe a little quicker than a year ago.
'People were eating dinner and wondering 'Are they still out there?' I heard that from numerous people,' Kerr recalled. 'I was so tired that night going to dinner that I couldn't appreciate it. You have no idea how much it takes out of you.'
Kerr bogeyed four of the last six holes of regulation to squander a four-shot lead, including missing a short par putt on No. 18. She finally won with a 3-foot par putt after Jeon hit into trouble on the seventh extra hole.
'It was unbelievably draining,' Kerr said. 'Seven holes is long enough without a 40-mile per hour wind and it being really cold.'
That victory, only Kerr's second on the tour, turned out to be a springboard -- she went on to win two more tournaments last year.
'It gave me a lot of confidence, to persevere through such a long process,' she said. 'I showed myself a lot. I can be courageous. I can hit the shots under pressure. I can be there, and I think found a new level in my game that week.'
Kerr is off to a fine start this year, with her $286,959 in earnings second to Annika Sorenstam's $660,000. Sorenstam, who has won five tournaments in a row, is taking the week off.
Although she hasn't won this year, Kerr has been a model of consistency. She has finished in a tie for second, tied twice for third, and her lowest finish was a tie for 18th.
'I'm really happy with my game. I'm improving my swing, my short game, my putting, mental aspect, being able to work it right-to-left and left-to-right and trouble shots,' she said. 'I'm trying to step up my fitness a little bit this year when I'm on the road.'
Kerr's Las Vegas win last year came after she finished the 2003 tournament tied for second with Sorenstam and Soo-Yun Kang behind winner Candie Kung.
Among those who will try to deny Kerr consecutive victories at The Las Vegas Country Club is Natalie Gulbis, who has a bit of a home advantage.
'I live about 30 minutes from the golf course,' she said. 'It is always nice to sleep in your own bed and it is nice that when I get off the golf course I can go over and see my instructor Butch Harmon who is in town.'
Jeon, who said after last year's tournament that going head-to-head with Kerr was a great education, is back to try to show how much she learned.
The winner will earn $165,000 of the $1.1 million purse. The par-72 course will play to 6,550 yards.