Cristie Kerr Turns in Record Performance to Claim 2017 LOTTE Championship


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By Kyle Galdeira
 
The only thing that seemed to go wrong during Cristie Kerr’s final round of the LOTTE Championship was a well-wisher prematurely popping the cork of a champagne bottle on the hill above the Ko Olina Golf Club’s 18th green as the golfer took an approach shot.  
 
Kerr would soon enjoy a celebratory dousing with the aforementioned champagne after firing a 10-under-par 62 on Friday to tie the course and tournament record, and following that performance up with a six-under round on Saturday to claim her first LPGA Tour win since 2015. The stellar effort by Kerr broke the 72-hole tournament scoring record of 19-under set by Suzann Pettersen in 2013; Kerr also tied Lizette Salas’ tourney record-low single-round score of 62 (-10) established in 2013.
 
“It feels amazing…I found something and was able to turn it on,” said Kerr, who is coming off knee surgery in November. “Coming back, the recovery was really, really slow. The first ball I hit was eight weeks after surgery (and the recovery time) was supposed to be half that.
 
“I was enjoying being in the moment and relishing the fact that I was able to go forward.”
 
While she refused to address the “age” question (she has been playing professionally longer than some competitors have been alive), but noted that her experience at Ko Olina and around the globe via two decades of LPGA action is vital to her continued success.
 
“Experience is huge, very few players are lucky to have a career as long as I’ve had,” Kerr said. “It’s an advantage, I think. As soon as I made my first birdie, it was off to the races.”
 
Lydia Ko, In Gee Chun and Su-Yeon Jang all finished three shots off the lead, while Kerr’s bogey-free effort allowed her to take the lead and hold it on the back nine. With the win, Kerr takes home a $300,000 check as part of the event’s $2 million purse.
 
“I’ve always loved coming here and looking at the ocean,” Kerr said. “Not only are ladybugs good luck for me, but so are turtles,” which she swam with on Friday.
 
As Kerr prepared to leave the media area following her championship performance, a youngster asked her for some tips on putting. She responded: “Don’t be afraid of it going long or short. Feel the speed in your hands, go and just do it. Try to roll it with the right speed.”
 
This year marks the sixth LOTTE Championship Presented by Hershey at Ko Olina Golf Club in ‘Ewa, O’ahu. The 144-player field included 80 of the top 100 players in the world, and five of the seven tournament winners from this season.
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