GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN | Former world No. 1 and the record-holder for the most points in U.S. Solheim Cup history shot 7-under 65 on Saturday in the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, marking Cristie Kerr's lowest round since the 2019 Pure Silk Championship in Williamsburg, Vir. where she fired a 63 to finish in a tie for ninth.
"I felt like myself out there today for the first time in a couple of years, maybe three, four years. Who knows how much longer I'm going to play? Just got to have maybe not two or three jobs, maybe just one," Kerr said.
Kerr emerged from the morning round without a single bogey, hitting 11 out of 13 fairways, 17 of 18 greens, needing just 28 putts to get the job done at Blythefield Country Club.
"You know, yesterday was a tough day. Got off to a tough start, but I brought it back and played great, obviously to make the cut,” she said. “I've been playing well. I just struggled with the driver a bit. Put a new driver in play this week. Went back to a Ping driver, and I've just hit it awesome.”
The LPGA Tour veteran had back-to-back birdies on holes 14 and 15, following it up with two more on 17 and 18 to end the round with a remarkable finish.
"I was just trying to stay really committed to every shot I was hitting and saying to myself, in the past, it's proven if I do that, if I take care of my job mentally and I know where my game is in the spot, then the results take care of themselves, and I get a lot of birdie looks coming in," she said.
At the peak of her career, Kerr finished in the top 10 in half of the tournaments she entered and ranked second in scoring average on the LPGA Tour, only behind Annika Sorenstam. The American golf icon has won 20 Tour events, including two majors, and the 44-year-old is still determined to be competitive before retirement.
"For the last couple of years, there wasn't much balance, and I think that's why my game suffered. COVID really put a damper on everybody's life, and nobody really knew how to handle it. The beginning of 2020, we had let somebody in the operational role go (at Kerr Cellars), so I picked it up because it didn't look like we were going to play golf, and it turned out I was pretty good at it." she said.
Kerr said she realized in 2021 that she couldn't excel on tour while balancing a demanding position at Kerr Cellars, the company she founded in 2013.
"Going into this year, I said, if I want to have a comeback, if I want to try to do really, really well again, I can't (play golf and do wine full-time). I've got to focus all my energy on golf, on my fitness, which is starting to happen again. I've put everything into golf this year," she said.
The mom of two and wine aficionado has been through a lot of hardship the past few years, dropping out of tournaments when her mom was battling breast cancer, losing French LET player and friend Cassandra Kirkland to lung cancer in 2017, and having to let go of long-time caddie Worth Blackwelder this year so that he could focus on his health.
"He caddied for me for up until ShopRite, and he's got a little bit of heart issues going on that he's got to take care of and have a procedure. So, my thoughts are with him," she said.
Since then, Kerr has found Dave Lindquist, who has caddied on the PGA TOUR in the past.
"I got really, really lucky finding Dave Lindquist. Found him and we have had insane chemistry on the golf course, and that never happens for me. So somehow, some way it went from not knowing really where the driver is going to go to, wow, I have a straight driver, wow, I have a great caddie, and wow, my game is turning around," Kerr said.
Kerr said she has great memories at Meijer and that the golf course has never been in better shape.
"I mean, the greens are as good as any greens we putt on tour, even in a major. The rough is really up this week, and the fairways -- I mean, you could eat off the fairways," she said.
Heading into contention tomorrow, Kerr said the while the game is getting younger, the golf ball doesn't know her age and she's going to keep working hard to compete.
"You never know out here. I've come back from eight shots back to win a tournament. I might be a little too far back to do that, but I'll keep working at it.”