Cristie Kerr’s year of milestones
It has been a year of exciting developments in Cristie Kerr’s world on the LPGA Tour.
The Miami, Fla. native has continued to be one of the more dominant players on Tour, notching her 16th career victory in a dramatic two-hole playoff with Norway’s Suzann Pettersen at the Kingsmill Championship in May. It was the third time she broke into the winner’s circle at the event, but what made it more special was having her father there to see her win for the first time in her golf career.
“I think the highlight on the course was winning and having my dad in Kingsmill,” said Kerr. “It was the first time he was able to see me win in person because he’s had several knee surgeries and kind of struggled with that. But that was definitely a highlight for me so far.”
Kerr’s 16 victories and 140 top-10 finishes in her career have all led up to a few milestones that she has crossed in her 17th season on the LPGA Tour. With a tie for 20th finish and a $37,920 check at the U.S. Women’s Open in Southampton, N.Y. this past June, Kerr surpassed Mexican golf legend Lorena Ochoa in career earnings, pulling her to third overall with more than $15 million.
She also made played her 400th LPGA Tour event in September at the The Evian Championship, the Tour’s fifth major. Reflecting on her year, Kerr said that she’s thrilled to have marked so many achievements this season and is more impressed she did so while battling a few injuries.
“It’s been very interesting and has been kind of bitter sweet,” said Kerr of her season. “I can’t believe this year is almost over. It has been a year of milestones and a lot of things happening. I won again, but you know I’ve been struggling a little bit with some elbow tendonitis. I haven’t played as well as I’ve wanted to after Kingsmill and to this point, but I’m going to refocus and try to get another win before the end of the year. I want to end the year on a high note.”
The 35-year-old also balances her successful playing career with an active philantrophic life off the golf course . That includes Kerr overseeing a women's health center, hosting an annual fundraiser event for breast cancer awareness and even producing a top-quality wine where all of the proceeds benefit breast cancer research.
Over the past nine years, Cristie Kerr’s Birdies for Breast Cancer event has raised more than $2 million for cancer research and treatment. This year’s event, held on September 23, raised more than $750,000, which will benefit the expansion of the Cristie Kerr Women’s Health Center at the LibertyHealth Foundation at Jersey Medical Center.
Since its opening in 2010, the center has grown from just two receptionists in a small building to six receptionists and an ever-growing patient list and a facility that is open seven days a week. The center has performed more than 25,000 procedures and is now a Certified Women’s Health Center of Excellence. Kerr plans to expand the center and open it up to other conditions like cardiovascular disease, infertility, but to remain mostly focused on breast cancer screening.
“I would have to say my charity event and its success has been the highlight for me off the course,” said Kerr. “Finally getting that big donation that we’ve been looking for for a long time, it’s very satisfying.”
As Kerr rounds out another successful season on the LPGA Tour, she says although it’s remarkable to have been able to accomplish so much in her playing career, she’s most grateful for her personal development through such accolades.
“I think I’ve matured on both levels,” said Kerr. “Inside the ropes, I’ve become more patient. I use my emotions to play well. I have become more patient and if things don’t go my way I can turn them around more easily whereas when I was younger and I had that much emotion it seemed to really hinder my play.
“Off the golf course as well I think I’ve matured. I’ve been able to handle a lot of things besides golf like my charity event and wine business and other things. I feel like I’ve kind of grown up.”