PITTSFORD, N.Y. – There is no manual on how to raise a superstar. Golf parents, in particular, tend to be a hands-on lot. Rare is the young female prodigy who doesn’t have at least one family member traveling with her from week to week. And they usually stick around long after the player can rent a car.
Before Michelle Wie’s parents became super-glued to their 6-foot phenom, Cristie Kerr was out on the LPGA as an awkward teen, trying to make it big with her dad on the bag.
“I see it more times than not,” Kerr said. “That father/daughter relationship, you kind of grow apart.”
Here at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, a grown-up Kerr looks to end a two-year victory drought. She knows she wouldn’t be one of the most well-known players in the women’s game if not for her father, Michael. But life hasn’t exactly been a Hallmark commercial.
Last week, Kerr hosted a charity outing at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., for men and women of the armed forces. She included her father, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, in the Memorial Day event. Kerr and her father hadn’t seen each other in several years. Their latest rift came from a book he’d authored without her blessing: “A Father’s Story: Cristie Kerr – A Great American Golfer.”
There was nothing off-base in the book. Kerr simply didn’t want him to write it. She decided to “wave the white flag” and bring him up from Miami. The first thing Michael Kerr did when he saw his daughter was apologize.
“He said, ‘I see the error of my ways, and I just want to be your dad,’ ” Cristie said.
It was a healing moment between the two.
Kerr finds herself in a peaceful state this week. She’s comfortable having her old caddie, Worth Blackwelder, back on the bag. They won five times together from 2003 to ’05. She’s more focused, motivated from being passed by Stacy Lewis last week as the top-ranked American.
Kerr opened with a 70 at Locust Hill, hitting only 10 greens but putting several times from the fringe. She hit half the fairways on a course with penalizing rough.
“I had a good start,” Kerr said. “Nothing wrong with trying to run away with it, either, though, you know what I mean?”