Cristie Kerr further confirmed her position amongst the elite of the LPGA Tour with her convincing five-shot win at the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Virginia.
The victory was her fourth LPGA Title but importantly Kerr seems to be putting herself into a position to contend nearly every time she tees it up. This was her fifth top three finish in seven starts this season, coming on top of a season last year where she was a three time winner and twice second.
Kerr joined the LPGA in 1997 via the Q School in 1996 and while it took her until 2002 to win her first event, she had made steady improvement each and every year. Even before winning on a regular basis, she had become known as a big event player with several good finishes in majors including a runner up at the US Open in 2000 behind Karrie Webb. She has today become the leading American on the USLPGA Tour and will be an important cog in the US Solheim Cup wheel later this year.
Kerr underwent somewhat of a metamorphosis in 2000 losing much of the weight that had been so much of a burden to her physically and mentally in her youth. Now she is one of the glamours on the LPGA Tour and has a game and record to match. She is an object lesson to all, both on and off the golf course, as to what hard work and dedication can do in the quest for self improvement.
Her win today was never really in question. While Sergio Garcia was blowing a six shot lead in Charlotte, Kerr took a four shot lead into day four here and although the gap was reduced to just three at one stage her lead was never really under threat. She drew away again to win by five over Jill McGill with Kerr's good friend Natalie Gulbis and Scotland's Catriona Matthew one further back in third place.
Annika Sorenstam was on the back foot early in her bid to win a record six in a row on the LPGA Tour. After an opening 76 she worked her way back into the tournament with rounds of 67 and 69 but she was always too far back and her last round of 74 proved that there are no guarantees, even for the greatest player the female game has seen.
Albury's Lindsey Wright, in her rookie year on the LPGA Tour, did well to be the best of the Australians along with Rachel Hetherington in 19th place. They will each earn US$23,000 with Wright more than doubling her earnings to date this season. Wright was a member of the 2002 winning Australian Espirito Santo team and has made a solid start to her LPGA career after gaining her full status via the Futures Tour last year.
Rachel Hetherington for the second consecutive week had a great final round, her 68 seeing her move from 55th to 19th. Wendy Doolan was 27th, Katherine Hull 66th and 53-year-old Jan Stephenson 79th after an opening 69.
The LPGA now moves to Stockbridge Georgia for the Chik-fil-A Charity Championship.