Cristie Kerr drained a 30-foot birdie on 18 to complete an ultra-impressive week in Malaysia with a final-round 71 to win the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, her 20th career victory over 20 special years on Tour. Kerr made 20 birdies and four bogeys over the final three rounds at TPC Kuala Lumpur for her second win of 2017. She finished with a four-day total of 15-under, 269 to win by one-stroke over Jacqui Concolino, Danielle Kang and Shanshan Feng.
"It was meant to be," said Kerr about the putt on 18. "What a way to win. I always said I wanted to get a win in my 40's and I got it pretty quick."
There was one weather delay as thunder and lightning cropped up as the lead group was making the turn. Horns blew at 12:38 p.m. local. Players returned to the course as conditions improved at 1:46 p.m.
It was a milestone win. Kerr becomes the 27th player in LPGA history to record 20 career wins. She is also the first 40-year-old to win on Tour since 2011 when Catriona Matthew won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational at 42. Further, Kerr earns her 22nd point towards induction into the LPGA Tour Hall-of-Fame and is just five points away from qualification.
"To do what I do for a living is amazing," said Kerr. "This tournament is a beacon for women's health and raising awareness for breast cancer is near and dear to my heart. I'm so proud to be the champion of this tournament."
Kerr made an early birdie on hole two to stretch her lead to two shots over Shanshan Feng. Kerr didn’t cruise to victory. Things tightened drastically on hole seven when Kerr hit her tee shot on the par-3 into the hazard. She had to walk back to the tee to hit again and made double-bogey. Meanwhile, Feng drained a critical 10-foot par putt and the two were tied for the lead at 14-under.
Nelly Korda made five birdies over her first 11 holes to get to 12-under and all of a sudden, there were more in the mix than Kerr and Feng. Jacqui Concolino and In Gee Chun were also at 12-under before Kerr and Feng were on the back nine
Another turning point came on hole nine. Kerr hit a gorgeous 7-iron to ten feet. Just seconds later, Feng missed her approach way left and her ball plugged in the hazard near the water. Under the circumstances, Feng hit a very nice chip to 12-feet. The twists and turns continued as Kerr dropped her birdie in the center of the cup to get to 15-under. Feng then missed her par putt left and Kerr took a two-shot lead. It was Feng’s first bogey of the tournament (first 62 holes without a bogey).
Concolino pulled within one of Kerr with back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12 following the resumption of play.
With a two-stroke lead and four to play, Kerr hit her tee shot on the par-3 15th into the bunker. She hit a nice bunker shot to 10-feet, but missed the par putt to drop to 14-under.
Concolino drained a 15-footer on 17 to move to 14-under and into a share of the lead.
Less than a minute later, Kerr made a remarkable birdie on 16. She hit a shaky drive on the par-5 into the bunker and had 185 yards to the hole with her third and hit a wood to 15-feet and then put a perfect stroke on the putt and walked in her birdie to get to 15-under.
Kerr missed her tee shot on 17 long onto the second cut of fringe and three-putted for bogey to drop down to 14-under. Seconds later, Concolino lipped out for birdie on 18 and made par to close in a share of the lead at 14-under.
Feng made back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17 to equal Kerr, Concolino and Kang, who had a massive back nine with an eagle on 12 and birdies on 13, 16 and 18.
Neither Kerr nor Feng were in close with their approaches into 18 so a four-way playoff started to appear likely. Kerr was first to play and drained a 30-foot birdie putt on 18 to get to 15-under. As it was approaching the hole, she put her right fist in the air on its final few rolls into the cup.
"Oh my god, I can't believe I made that," said Kerr as she walked towards the scoring tent. "I just said to myself give it a chance to go and it never left the hole. It was a really tough win, but a great win."
Brooke Henderson posted the low round of the day, a 7-under, 64 to finish in a tie for fourth at 13-under.