It was another fight to the finish in Williamsburg, Va. at the Kingsmill Championship, as Cristie Kerr outlasted Suzann Pettersen in a two-hole sudden death playoff for her 16th career victory. Kerr sank a two-foot par putt on the 18th hole to clinch the win and break into the winner’s circle for the third time at Kingsmill. Kerr, who shot a 2-under 69 in the final round, said she grinded out in regulation and felt lucky to even be in contention.
“I'm just so thrilled. Honestly, the way I hit it today to even have a chance to win,” said Kerr. “I just made so many putts out there to save par and kind of save any momentum, and I started hitting it a little bit better late in the round just in time to make a ‑‑ catch up a couple shots. Yeah, really hard fought, really hard fought. I'm very happy.”
Kerr and Pettersen went head-to-head the entire final round that saw two ties and two lead changes throughout. Pettersen started two shots off the lead to start the day and got to work early with her first of four birdies on the par 5 3rd hole to reach within one stroke. Kerr found herself in some trouble on No. 5 and dropped her first of two shots of the day, providing the first tie for the lead with Pettersen at 9-under par.
Kerr made her first birdie of the day on the par 5 7th hole to reclaim the lead and made the turn up one shot at 10-under. The duo would exchange birdies on No. 12 before a two-shot swing came at the 14th hole, where Kerr carded her second bogey of the round and Pettersen with her third birdie of the day.
Kerr failed to convert on an eagle putt on the 15th and tapped in for birdie but Pettersen responded with her own three-foot birdie putt to maintain the lead. Kerr carded her fourth and final birdie of the day on the 16th hole to tie the lead again at 12-under. Both players failed to convert on birdie chances on the final two holes in regulation and brought a wave of deja-vu to the large crowds at Kingsmill Resort when they returned to the 18th hole for a sudden-death playoff.
Kerr missed a six-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to win, but said the hiccup did not disturb her in the least bit.
“My confidence? It didn't shake my confidence,” said Kerr. “I probably made 12 15‑footers today. Missing one is probably law of averages. It didn't really shake my confidence. I was kind of disappointed that I wasn't able to just close it outright there because it was getting really cold and the monumental nine‑hole playoff between Paula and Jiyai last year, I didn't want that to happen, So it was good to get another chance. I absolutely roasted my tee shot the second playoff hole and hit a fairly good iron in there, maybe just blocked it a little bit, but she kind of stumbled a little bit and that's what you need to win a playoff.”
On the second playoff hole, Pettersen’s third shot from the back left fringe of the green failed to get the roll she was looking for and left her about 12 feet of work to save par. She failed to convert and dropped her first shot of the entire day, setting Kerr up to close out. Kerr sealed the deal with a two-foot par putt to earn her 16th career victory and improved her career playoff record to 3-2. She said the win was special because of the way she rallied toward the end of the round and kept her mental game intact.
“Yeah, it definitely makes it really sweet because I definitely didn't have the swing today until the end of the round,” said Kerr. “Just couldn't stay centered, just moving a little quick, a little quick with my transition, maybe a little extra adrenaline been in the final round. That's happened before. When you're hitting it really well and like Suzann was, it's getting a lot of birdie opportunities, so when you have to make a lot of those par‑saving putts, it's do or die, whatever it takes.
“I've won all sorts of different ways and this is definitely one of the sweeter ones because I didn't have the A game today and my mental game, you know, kept me in there and kept the momentum kind of going in the right direction and I just hung around until, you know, I could find a better swing and start hitting it a little better coming in.”
Seventeen year old Ariya Jutanugarn finished out her week on a strong note, carding one of the low rounds of the day of 5-under 66. The Thailand native carded six birdies, five coming on the back nine, and one bogey which moved her into a tie for third with Ilhee Lee. Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis shot 1-under 70 and finished at 9-under in a tie for fifth with playing partner Angela Stanford (-2). Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park trailed the duo in seventh place after a nice 4-under 67 in the final round.