Kerr is do­ing her best to get lead­ers’ at­ten­tion

LPGA vet­eran shoots 70 in U.S. Women’s Open, then chats with Trump

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY JESSE DOUGHERTY jesse.dougherty@wash­post.com

bedminster, n.j. — Af­ter Cristie Kerr saved par on the 15th hole, an ac­ro­batic feat af­ter her drive found a bunker and her se­cond shot found the rough, she set out on another tough mis­sion.

Stand­ing just off the 15th green, Kerr turned away from the course and waved at a tent-shaped build­ing with big glass win­dows. In­side was Pres­i­dent Trump, a friend of Kerr, watch­ing the U.S. Women’s Open at his Trump Na­tional Golf Club for the se­cond straight day af­ter ar­riv­ing Fri­day.

Trump didn’t see her, and a se­cond wave also went un­no­ticed. Then Kerr started do­ing jump­ing jacks as the crowd laughed be­hind her. That didn’t work ei­ther, and she shook her head and smiled as she walked to the tee at No. 16.

Kerr’s day even­tu­ally ended with a visit to the pres­i­dent in his en­closed view­ing area. It also ended with a 2-un­der-par 70 on her score­card, putting her at 4 un­der for the tour­na­ment and within striking dis­tance of the leader, China’s Shan­shan Feng, at 9 un­der. South Korea’s Amy Yang and 17-year-old South Korean am­a­teur Hye-Jin Choi are tied for se­cond at 8 un­der through three rounds.

“Ob­vi­ously I know him fairly well,” Kerr said of try­ing to get Trump’s at­ten­tion at the 15th hole. “I don’t see him that of­ten, but he’s a huge sup­porter of women’s golf and it was just fun, just go­ing, ‘I know the pres­i­dent,’ you know? But now I think the peo­ple you used to know I don’t know them that well any­more be­cause he’s re­ally hard to get to.”

Play­ers moved in two di­rec­tions Satur­day, fad­ing from con­tention or se­cur­ing Sun­day rel­e­vancy. The 39-year-old Kerr achieved the lat­ter, but that’s about all she has in com­mon with the rest of the con­tend­ing pack. She is the only Amer­i­can of the nine play­ers who are at 4 un­der or bet­ter head­ing into the fi­nal round. She is also the only player over 30 in that group.

Of the 62 play­ers who made the cut and teed off Satur­day, only 19 were 30 or older. At the start of the tour­na­ment there were nearly as many play­ers age 15 to 19 (20) as there were age 30 to 39 (30). Of the 13 play­ers who went into Satur­day at 3 un­der or bet­ter, none was older than 27.

“I think they are start­ing so young. Ba­si­cally, these am­a­teurs, they are pro­fes­sional am­a­teurs,” Juli Inkster, a 57-year-old pro who is part of the tour­na­ment broad­cast, said this past week. “They play world­wide. They play in the sum­mer. They are play­ing like ev­ery week or ev­ery other week. They are play­ing a lot of golf. I think you get to a cer­tain age and you are like, ‘Man, there’s more out there. I want to do dif­fer­ent things.’ I think that’s what you see a lot of.”

This stage isn’t new for Kerr, who won the U.S. Women’s Open a decade ago and has 19 vic­to­ries on the LPGA Tour. She nearly with­drew from the tour­na­ment Fri­day be­cause of mus­cle spasms in her back but hung in to shoot a 1-over 73 and felt much bet­ter dur­ing the third round.

Kerr is loud and an­i­mated on the course, of­ten bark­ing at her ball to “Sit!” or “Go!” or “Come on! Stay right!” Con­ver­sa­tions with her cad­die can usu­ally be heard from out­side the ropes lin­ing the course. Af­ter her im­prob­a­ble par on No. 15, Kerr’s drive sailed past the ropes at No. 17 and be­yond the cart path.

She whacked her ap­proach shot from a grassy hill and quickly shuf­fled up it to see how it looked. It landed right on the edge of the green, draw­ing cheers from a big crowd, and she again saved par.

“Just do­ing the same thing I’ve done for 20 years,” Kerr said, be­fore she was asked whether she meant to say 21.

“Twenty-one,” she an­swered, shrug­ging. “I’m old. I can’t re­mem­ber.”

Her round ended with a chance to birdie No. 18, but she left the putt a bit wide and fin­ished with a tap-in par. She then snaked through the crowd around the club­house and walked to­ward Trump’s view­ing area. He stepped to the front win­dow and beck­oned her up, and she pointed to her score­card to in­di­cate that she had to go sign it first.

Af­ter she did that and con­ducted a few in­ter­views, Kerr walked past the play­ers’ locker room, up a flight of steps and did what she couldn’t do at the 15th hole. Now, the pres­i­dent’s at­ten­tion was hers.

“We’ll just talk, I guess,” Kerr said be­fore head­ing to visit Trump. “I don’t know. I’m not go­ing to talk pol­i­tics. I can tell you that.”

ELSA/GETTY IM­AGES

Of the nine golfers at 4 un­der par or bet­ter en­ter­ing the fi­nal round, Cristie Kerr is the only Amer­i­can and the only player older than 30.

ERIC SUCAR/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Kerr talks with Pres­i­dent Trump on Satur­day af­ter fin­ish­ing the third round. “He’s a huge sup­porter of women’s golf,” she said.

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