Resilient Kerr ready to tackle Kraft Nabisco


2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Cristie Kerr endured a tough off-season.

Her mother, Linda, who has survived breast cancer and a heart attack, had 10 inches of her colon removed in a battle with diverticulitis.

Her father, Michael, was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Even her dog, Bailey, a mini-Chinese Shar-Pei, was stricken, glaucoma taking most of his sight in one eye.

Cristie Kerr
Cristie Kerr has won two major championship titles. (Getty Images)
So it’s notable that Kerr looks so renewed and fit as she prepares for Thursday’s start of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the year’s first major.

“Everything has kind of calmed down for me,” Kerr, 33, said. “Everything is all right now.”

Kerr reports her parents are doing fine, and she’s feeling transformed once again after re-committing to a fitness and diet regimen at the end of last season.

“I wanted to lose five or seven pounds,” Kerr said. “I ended up losing 12 or 13 pounds ... Stress probably helped me lose that extra five pounds.”

It’s been a decade since Kerr made her dramatic transformation, as much psychological, she says now, as physical, when she lost 50 pounds, got rid of her wire-rim librarian glasses and started appearing on the cover of magazines as one of the tour’s glamour girls.

At the end of last year, Kerr returned to the same diet that helped her make her first transformation, restricting “processed carbohydrates, white bread and white flower.” A wine connoisseur, she even abstained from alcohol for six weeks.

“I trained a lot of times twice a day,” Kerr said. “I’ve been training hard and I feel a lot better.”

Kerr’s game took off with her first transformation. She says her devotion to change turned her game and life around.

“I think it’s hard to put a value on that,” Kerr said. “I think if I stayed the way I was, I wouldn’t have the career to date that I have, or be as happy.

“I try to always re-invent myself and have a new look and kind of like to always surprise people.”

People who knew Kerr in high school might walk past her without recognizing her if they haven’t followed her career.

“It’s nice to be in a different place, where you can look good in clothing and feel good versus being a sixth-grader where people make fun of you and call you fatso,” Kerr said. “I got teased a lot in high school. So, it’s nice to finally, maybe, turn into a little bit of a swan.”

Fatso? Did she actually hear that?

“Are you kidding?” she said. “Absolutely. Kids in high school and middle school are not very nice if you aren’t one of the 'in,' popular kids. I wore these big thick glasses. I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures. I’m not that person anymore, so it feels really good to have conquered that.”

Kerr would like to conquer the Dinah Shore Tournament Course in a bid to win the Kraft Nabisco. She has a history of contending in this event but no title to show for it.

A 14-time LPGA winner, with two major championships to her credit, including last year’s runaway 12-shot victory at the LPGA Championship, Kerr has finished fifth or better five times at the Kraft Nabisco. She tied for second in ’09, when Brittany Lincicome won with an eagle at the final hole.

“I’ve always loved this golf course,” Kerr said. “I’ve had a lot of close calls here. So I’m ready for the challenge to try and play every day the best I can. Hopefully, at the end of the week, it will add up to some good things.”

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell