Kerr Takes on Vets and Teens at State Farm


2005 State Farm ClassicSPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Cristie Kerr figures she'll have plenty of time to relax in a couple of weeks.
For now, she's busy preparing for her title defense in the LPGA State Farm Classic and next week's stressful Solheim Cup matches.
``This is my third week in a row and then Solheim will be my fourth ... I have a couple of weeks off after that,'' Kerr said. ``I'm a little bit tired right now, but I'm going to go probably back today and take a nap and get ready to play and compete.''
Kerr, the defending champion this week in Springfield, Ill., won the Wendy's Championship for Children on Sunday in Ohio to lock up the top spot on the U.S. Solheim Cup team and move into third place on the money list.
The 27-year-old Kerr knows she's the center of attention after her fifth win in the last two years. It's her sixth title overall since joining the tour nine years ago.
``It makes me want to perform better and keeps me intense inside the ropes,'' Kerr wrote in an e-mail interview. ``My success has created more attention to me as a golfer as well as a person than before and I am trying to balance all these things for people to see the real me,''
Kerr heads a field that tees off Thursday at Rail Golf Club without the tour's top money winners, Annika Sorenstam and 19-year-old Paula Creamer, both taking the week off to prepare for the Solheim Cup next week at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind.
Kerr edged Sorenstam and Creamer by a stroke last week in Ohio.
``There are so many great golfers out on tour now. Just take a look at how many first-time winners we've had this year,'' Kerr said. ``You can't just think of Annika as the biggest challenge anymore though you still need to be mindful when she's out there.''
Sandy Dehner-Wheeler says the field is the strongest in her 27 years as tournament director, with 103 of the top 119 money winners, seven of the 12 U.S. Solheim Cup members and six from the European team, including captain Catrin Nilsmark.
The lineup for the $1.3 million tournament ranges from veterans Laura Davies, Juli Inkster and Karrie Webb, with a combined 80 LPGA victories, to Lorena Ochoa, who has four wins in her three years on tour.
U.S. Women's Amateur champion Morgan Pressel and former Duke star Brittany Lang are playing on sponsor exemptions. The 17-year-old Pressel and 19-year-old Lang tied for second in the U.S. Women's Open in June.
``I think from one to 100, it's the best I've ever seen,'' said Dehner-Wheeler, who is retiring after the tournament.
Kerr said she's eager to get back on the 6,649-yard course where she had consecutive 63s in the second and third rounds last year en route to a tournament-record 24-under 264 total.
``I'm really looking forward to this week rather than feeling pressure,'' Kerr said. ``I really know the course well. It's a good test of golf and has great scoring opportunities.''
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