Cristie Kerr just a minute ago made a four-foot birdie putt to become the world’s number one golfer of the LPGA (Ladies’ Professional Golf Association). Not only was this a Major Tournament, but her score of nineteen under par was the lowest score in a major in the history of women’s golf. She won the tournament by twelve strokes over her nearest competitor, a margin surpassed only by Louise Suggs back in 1949.
I first ran into Cristie at Priddis Greens Golf & Country Club in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, at the du Maurier Classic in 1999. Cristie then was an extremely heavy girl on a 5 foot 4 inch frame. And she wore those humongous plastic-framed eye glasses that were fashionable in those days.
I must confess that I did not start out looking for her. In that year, Kelli Kuehne was the up and coming star and she attracted the largest crowd…me included. Along with her was Emilee Kline who was also well known at the time. I followed the trio for nine holes and therein evolved my reflection of Cristie Kerr.
For the nine holes that I followed them, everyone of course, was following Kellie Kuehne and Emilee Kline. Everyone was probably wondering what the heck that bespectacled, frumpy golfer was doing out there. For the nine holes that I followed, as soon as Kellie finished putting out and walked towards the next green, everyone started to move away, leaving Emilie and Cristie to still putt out or oftentimes, it was just Cristie left on the green to finish putting out. Cristie looked unflappable, but I remember reflecting how callous golf fans can be.
Even though I followed the LPGA all those years, Cristie was lost from the radar screen as the media, I presume, did not pay any attention to her. The next time I did see Cristie on TV, I had to do a double and triple take to actually believe that this was Cristie Kerr. She had shed about sixty pounds to a svelte one hundred and twenty pounder; and she shed her glasses for contacts. She was a beautiful young golfer, ready to take on the world. Her golf game improved as the reduced weight helped improve her golf swing, largely because it eliminated her back problem.
The rest is history, as they say. Her golf game continued to improve to the point of winning tournaments year after year and in the process, included a U.S. Women’s Open in 2007, her first Major.
Today’s victory at the Wegman’s LPGA Championship, her second Major tournament, was, in the mind of this LPGA golf fan, a fitting milestone over the long, long and arduous golf journey for the Number One LPGA golfer of the world, Cristie Kerr!