2006: Kerr stares down Annika
Broken Arrow, Okla.
Git ’er done!” a fan shouted as Cristie Kerr walked up the 18th fairway en route to a second-round 10-under 61 at the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic.
To say Kerr got the job done Sept. 10 in Green Country doesn’t seem to say enough about the moxie it takes to go head to head against Annika Sorenstam.
For the first time in her career, Kerr squared off against the rock-solid Swede in the final group on Sunday and came out on top. Kerr carded a final-round 68 at Cedar Ridge Country Club in suburban Tulsa for a 14-under 199 total, edging Sorenstam by two shots.
“It’s the most satisfying feeling in the world,” said Kerr, who joins Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Karrie Webb with three titles this season.
Sorenstam, who vaulted past Kerr last week at the State Farm Classic with a closing 62, looked like she might run away with her third consecutive John Q. title after matching the course record with an opening 7-under 64. But Kerr answered with a 61 on Day 2 to take a one-stroke lead.
Sorenstam hit 18 greens and shot 2-under 69 Sunday but couldn’t catch Kerr, who birdied Nos. 15 and 17 to pull away.
“When I look back, I wish I would have made a few more birdies, but I didn’t make any mistakes,” Sorenstam said. “When I walk away from here, I think I’ve got to give myself credit for that. I didn’t really give away any shots.”
Heading into the final round, Kerr held a slight advantage on Sorenstam in final-round scoring with a 69.556 average. Sorenstam came in at 69.923.
Kerr came alive this season when she put a new Ping Rapture driver in her bag before the final round at the Evian Masters. She closed with a 65 and finished 10th in France, then went on to tie for second at the British Open, win the Canadian Women’s Open, tie for ninth at Wendy’s, finish runner-up at the State Farm and prevail in Oklahoma. Kerr said the driver has given her 10-15 extra yards off the tee, and more importantly, two to three extra fairways per round.
Kerr, 28, feels she’s been somewhat overlooked this season. Her victory in Tulsa solidified her position as the tour’s top American. She is No. 4 on the money list, and has won eight titles in the last three years.
“I think people are starting to realize, ‘Hey, you know what, we don’t have to play under pressure. We don’t have to give it away and give it to (Annika) just because she is the best player in the world,’ ” Kerr said. “Let her stand up for herself and play great golf and see what kind of a match you can make out of it.”
In Kerr’s case, a pretty good one.
Shorter, straighter for Sjodin: Karin Sjodin has been leading the LPGA in driving distance, but it wasn’t getting her very far. The 23-year-old rookie averages 284.1 yards off the tee but ranks 127th in driving accuracy.
Following the Women’s British Open, Sjodin went home to Sweden to play in the TPC of Scandinavia and met with her coach, P.O. Dahlman. Sjodin tied for ninth in Sweden and brought a toned-down game back to the U.S. While she still goes full throttle off the tee, the former Oklahoma State standout hits her irons a club and a half shorter – and straighter.
“I thought after college you’d get longer courses and everyone would be great ballstrikers,” said Sjodin. “You still have the ones who have a great short game and make a living off of that. I enjoy watching it but it frustrates me.”
The new approached worked well for Sjodin in Tulsa, where thick rough penalized errant shots. With the OSU team cheering from the sidelines in homemade T-shirts, Sjodin notched her second top 10 this season, tying for seventh.