Kerr aiming again for No. 1 ranking at Open

Cristie Kerr during Round 2 of the Women's British Open.
Cristie Kerr during Round 2 of the Women's British Open. ( Associated Press )

Monday, February 14, 2011

SOUTHPORT, England – The phrase “a relaxed Cristie Kerr” might be golf’s ultimate oxymoron, but the feisty two-time major winner is trying to change her attitude in order to win a third.

It clearly isn’t easy.

Kerr reached a new high in women’s golf when she catapulted to world No. 1 after winning the LPGA Championship. Along with the accolades that went with reaching that historic milestone came more responsibilities.

Kerr fulfilled those duties admirably. However, her golf suffered as a result of off-course responsibilities.

“It makes you realize when Annika (Sorenstam) and Lorena (Ochoa) were No. 1 for years how hard that is, because it’s not just golf,” Kerr said. “It’s a lot of other stuff, too.

“It was the first time an American had got to No. 1, and Americans hadn’t won a lot of tournaments. It was a big deal for the tour. I stepped up. I did all the media stuff, but I didn’t manage my time very well to get enough rest.”

Kerr’s play in the U.S. Women’s Open suffered as a result. She tied for 19th and was never really in contention to win. Last week, she lost her No. 1 ranking to Jiyai Shin, when the Korean won the Evian Masters.

The 32-year-old isn’t too pleased at being relegated to world No. 2

“Now that I lost the No. 1 ranking, I want it back,” she said. “I have to look at what do I have to do to get it back. And that’s doing the same things that got me here.

“I’ve learned that I was fine with all the other stuff, but it was a time management thing. I didn’t manage my time well enough to get enough rest.

“Going into the Women’s Open, I did a lot of stuff and I didn’t get time to practice and I was tired when I was practicing.”

Kerr arrived at Royal Birkdale resolved to take a new attitude onto the golf course.

“I was determined to be more relaxed out there. I’ve been putting pressure on myself to get to the No. 1 ranking,” she said.

Kerr managed to do that with a second-round 67 around the Birkdale links to move into contention in a major she’s come close to winning in the past. She’s finished inside the top 10 in this event in four of the last five years, including a runner-up finish in 2006.

The new Cristie might have fashioned the 5-under score, but the old one surfaced in the pressroom. Kerr bristled when asked about chasing a two-time major winner in Yani Tseng with a four-shot lead.

“I’ve won two majors,” she quickly reminded the press corp.

Suffice it to say, Cristie isn’t totally relaxed this week. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.