Symetra Tour Cristie Kerr fired a final-round 3-under 69 and overcame a two stroke deficit to win this year’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex and Jalisco.
“It feels amazing,” said Kerr. “You know, coming in those last couple of holes it didn’t feel like I had won before. I kind of just squeaked in. I won by a shot, that’s all that it takes, I’ve lost plenty of tournaments by a shot, but winning by a shot feels a lot better.”
Kerr entered today’s final round two-strokes behind second round leader Angela Stanford but carded six birdies and three bogeys to secure her first LPGA Tour victory in two years. The Floridian fired rounds of 67-69-67-69 to take home her 15th win on the LPGA.
Rattled Nerves… Coming into this week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex and Jalisco Cristie Kerr had not won on the LPGA Tour since the 2010 Wegmans LPGA Championship. With nearly a two year hiatus from the winner’s circle, Kerr felt the pressure standing over her 4-foot par putt on the final hole which she needed to make to win.
“Yeah, I was nervous,” said Kerr. “I haven’t been in this position to win in a while. You know, to even have one putt to win, or two putts to win, I wasn’t nervous for messing up but it was hard to control the amount of adrenaline that was in my system. So I just tried to take some breaths and calm myself down and I still can’t believe how hard I hit that first putt. I gave the fans and myself a heart attack, but you know what I stayed in there mentally until the end you know, I tried to give it away but I wasn’t going to.”
After clinching her 15th career win, Kerr was overcome with emotion during the award’s ceremony when she thanked husband Erik Stevens for his support during a difficult two years.
“He’s been really encouraging, you know, my solid rock,” said Kerr. “Like never letting me doubt myself, always helping me to believe in myself and to move forward when things aren’t going well, this is great for us.”
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 15
Moderator: Alright, I’d like to welcome this year’s winner Cristie Kerr to the interview room. Cristie, it’s been a couple of years. How does it feel?
Cristie Kerr: It feels amazing. You know, coming in those last couple of holes it didn’t feel like I had won before. I kind of just squeaked in, but I won by a shot, that’s all that it takes. I’ve lost plenty of tournaments by a shot, but winning by a shot feels a lot better.
Moderator: I know you and Lorena are close friends. How does it feel now, to not only win a tournament, but to win Lorena’s tournament?
Cristie Kerr: It feels amazing. You know, this is, since the first year it was here has been one of my favorite tournaments and I admire Lorena not only for what she’s done in golf. You know I’ve played so much golf with her and she’s such a fierce competitor. But also for what she’s done with her foundation and for the kids in Mexico. It’s really an honor to win this tournament. It means a lot more to me than just a win and it feels great.
Question: You really came from behind. The first couple of days you were you know kind of not in it all the way. What was the strategy for you to be able to come back and be the winner?
Moderator: Well, I don’t think I was ever that far out of it. You know, I was never really more than two or three shots behind and you know, I’ve come from behind a number of times to win. And from as many as eighth back, so you know having the lead statistically isn’t great for the leader. You know, it’s harder to play with lead than it is to play from behind. So, you know, I knew I had to play a solid round, I thought actually I had to shoot for or five under to win. So, you know, it was great to be able to hang on at the end and you only need to win by one. So, it feels great.
Question: Hi Cristie, congratulations. What were you thinking in that last shot. Because I saw you like breathing and taking air. What were you thinking and feeling?
Moderator: Yeah, I was nervous. I haven’t been in this position to win in a while. You know, to even have one putt to win, or two putts to win, I wasn’t nervous for messing up but it was hard to control the amount of adrenaline that was in my system. So I just tried to take some breaths and calm myself down and I still can’t believe how hard I hit that first putt. I gave the fans and myself a heart attack, but you know what I stayed in there mentally until the end you know, I tried to give it away but I wasn’t going to.
Question: Cristie, just one more. Your speech that you had you thanking your husband for the last years, can you explain what were you feeling?
Cristie Kerr: Well it’s, you know, winning, there can only be one winner every week. And I had come really close in the last years, but hadn’t won and it had become a pretty big deal in the media. You know, that I hadn’t won. And being such a good player and having so many wins under my belt in my career and I don’t have to answer those questions anymore. So, I’m really happy about that. And he’s been really encouraging, you know, my solid rock. Like never letting me doubt myself, always helping me to believe in myself and to move forward when things aren’t going well, this is great for us.
Question: and you were pretty successful in the past. When did you start working together again?
Cristie Kerr: Let’s see, what was the first tournament back. Oh, Atlantic City this year was when I first got him back on the back and it’s been great. He’s a great partner and he’s the most positive caddie I’ve ever had as far as being encouraging. Encouraging me to stay patient out there, not letting me get to down on myself. You know, things could have gone really wrong after I missed that putt on thirteen but he said forget about it. You know it was kind of a silly pin and I had to make a good putt for par there and he was like “hey, forget about it, you have five holes left or however many wholes you have left” and you know it was hard. It was hard to finish, I hadn’t won in a while. It was really good to get his experience under my belt and with him again, knowing I can win with him again. So I think, maybe, with him I have won six tournaments. We had five before and now we have six or seven. This is great for us as a team, so you know, I’m looking forward to the future
Question: Cristie, if you had to rank this victory among your other fourteen titles, how high would it be?
Crisite Kerr: You know, they’re all different, for different reasons but you know being that it’s Lorena’s tournament and I’ve always wanted to win it. I’ve been close here, and I haven’t won in a while. And this golf course, I love this golf course so much and this place that we come to here, it’s just one of my favorite ones. Really, it is one of my favorites. No, I can’t. They’re like children, you know, all different. Hopefully I won’t have fifteen kids but they’re all different.
Question: What are you planning on doing with your prize money? We know there’s a foundation and Lorena’s played in your event. Are there any plans to collaborate maybe with Lorena and her foundation?
Cristie Kerr: Well definitely, you know. We’ve already spent over $2000 on her tequila this week (laughs). You know, we’ve already bought seven bottles of her tequila. I’m sure we’ll do something special. I’ve supported the foundation in the past and given her a check for a couple kids for a couple different years so I’m sure we’re going to do something special. It’s just an honor to win the tournament and again, I admire her so much for what she does. Actually, I don’t think she’s played in my charity event. Maybe now that you’ve said that, she’ll come play in my charity event. She won’t play professional golf, but maybe she’ll play some charity golf. So yeah, it’s really special, you know, I always support Lorena in what she does and I’m honored to be a part of it.
Question: Cristie, what did you think about the crowd and the city of Guadalajara?
Cristie Kerr: I think it’s fantastic. You know, the crowd here every year is so full of energy. And they make this tournament. They’re always rooting and they appreciate the golf and you know the city of Guadalajara is terrific. You know, it’s very safe. It’s very great weather every year, I mean wow. It’s the same, every single day when you come here this time of the year and it’s great to be here.