It’s been tough for Cristie Kerr to get much sleep.
Last week in Malaysia, while half the world was sleeping, Kerr picked up her third worldwide win of the season. Sunday morning, golf fans awoke to highlights of Kerr, who had drained a 35-footer on the 72nd hole to avoid a four-way playoff and capture the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia for her 20th career win on Tour. It was the stuff of dreams.
“You can always hope and dream, but when it happens it’s pretty amazing,” Kerr said on a call from her home in Arizona.
Home is a welcome place for the world No. 10, who spent the last five weeks on the road. The stretch began in France, where Kerr won on the Ladies European Tour for her second worldwide win of the season after also picking up the LOTTE Championship in April. Then, Kerr embarked on the LPGA’s swing through Asia where she finished no worse than a tie for 12th, capped off by her victory in Malaysia.
“It’s probably one of my best,” Kerr said when asked about how she would describe her 21st season on Tour.
Needing rest more than ever, Kerr stepped off the plane from Malaysia and right back into her role as a mom.
Sleep would have to wait.
With her son, Mason, and husband, Erik, on hand for her victory in Malaysia, the trio landed just in time to celebrate Halloween.
“It was pretty cool to take Mason for the first time trick-or-treating,” Kerr said about her three-year-old, who dressed up as Sulley from Monsters Inc.
And don’t think mom didn’t get in on the fun, too.
With no time to get a costume of her own, she could have just as easily passed as the most recent winner on the LPGA Tour. Instead, Kerr wore a cowgirl costume she had around the house. The family joined up with a group of kids from their neighborhood and made the rounds.
“My family is the most important thing to me.”
That’s not to say golf isn’t still a top priority.
When Kerr won in Malaysia, she moved to No. 3 on the Tour’s career money list, behind only Webb and Annika Sorenstam. And she’s now only five points shy of qualifying for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame, one of the toughest groups to join in all of sports. Kerr could earn one point with each additional win on Tour, or two points for another major title. She could also earn a point for securing the Vare Trophy, for the lowest scoring average of the season, or Player of the Year. Kerr hasn't earned either during her career, as her focus remains on racking up more titles.
“Winning and the Hall of Fame motivate me. My wine business motivates me, my charity motivates me. I’ve always loved golf and always loved to win and I want to do that, especially at this point in my career.”
Kerr celebrated her 40th birthday just before her win last month. She’s one of a handful of winners this season that isn’t in her teens or 20s, and the first player in her 40s to win since 2011. It’s a distinction she’s eager to make.
“People make such a big deal out of the young kids playing golf now they do forget players in their 30s and 40s can win and I think it's important to show up. I think it’s important to show people, as Karrie Webb put it, ‘these old ducks can win.’”
Kerr hasn’t been able to sleep through the night since she returned home. It’s a combination of being amped up from her win and battling jet lag, which she says “is kicking my butt.” But she’ll have plenty of time to catch-up since she’s taking the next two weeks off. She’ll play again at the final event of the year in Naples at the CME Group Tour Championship.
“Rest has been a big part of my success this year,” Kerr said about the changes she’s made to her schedule. “As I‘ve gotten older I’ve realized rest is part of the program, too.”
Kerr won the CME Group Tour Championship in 2015, but has never been in position to win the Race to the CME Globe, the season-long points race that awards a bonus of $1 million dollars. Following her win in Malaysia, Kerr moved into the coveted No. 5 position in the standings. The top-5 in the point standings can mathematically win the bonus if they win the Championship. And Kerr knows exactly where she stands.
“It’s pretty cool. I didn’t think when I started the Asia stretch it would be possible,” Kerr said of her chances of winning the $1 million dollar prize. “It’s going to be fun and if it comes down to the wire, it would be potentially nerve racking, adrenaline [packed], and a blast at the same time.”
If Kerr wins it all, it’ll be tough for her to get any sleep this off-season.