Kerr leads Matthew by one at LPGA ShopRite Classic after last-hole birdie

cristie kerr
Getty Images
Cristie Kerr carded eght birdies in her second-round 65 on Saturday.
By
Tom Canavan
Associated Press

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Published: Saturday, June 04, 2011 | 7:24 p.m.

Cristie Kerr was in the zone on the range before the second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic and even a double bogey on the 12th hole didn't cause her to lose focus.

"Yeah, I think it's maturity," the 33-year-old Kerr said Saturday after shooting a 6-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead over Catriona Matthew heading into the final round.

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2011 SHOPRITE CLASSIC

The ShopRite Classic was a staple on the LPGA Tour from 1986 to 2006, and returned to the schedule in 2010.

"But I recognize that you can make some birdies on the stretch coming in. It just didn't feel like a bad double. It sounds odd, but just didn't feel like I made double. So when you make a stupid mistake or something happens and you make double, you get more mad at yourself."

Kerr didn't get angry. She just made up for the mistake with three birdies on the final five holes to move within a good round of her first victory of the year and her 15th on the LPGA Tour.

The last birdie came from roughly 8 feet the par-5 18th and gave Kerr an 8-under 134 score on the Bay Course at the Seaview Resort, where the 20 mph wind of Friday's opening round was replaced by a mild breeze.

The result was 54 sub-par rounds compared to 13 the day before. If the conditions don't change, a low score will probably be needed Sunday to collect the top prize of $225,000.

Kerr intends to be ready, especially with 12 players within five shots of her lead, including fellow American Brittany Lincicome just two shots back and third-ranked Jiyai Shin three behind.

"I think it starts with the mindset, `Are you ready to go low?'" said the fourth-ranked Kerr. "`Are you ready to, no matter what comes at you? Are you able to handle it?'

"I felt like I was like that today. I pray every day I'm in that mindset. Because that's a good place for me, very intense, knowing what I've got to do, taking care of my job."

Kerr, who won this event in 2004, took care of business Saturday, rolling in eight birdies along with her double bogey.

Her one mistake was missing the small green at No. 12, a 320-yard par 4. Her flop shot on her third shot ran off the green and her chip ran about 8 feet past the hole. When she missed the putt she fell two shots behind Matthew, but rallied with a 30-foot birdie at No. 14, a birdie on the par-3 16th and then the final hole.

"It was weird making double, but I didn't feel like that bothered me because I had been playing great today, and I didn't feel like I did too much wrong on the hole," Kerr said. "So I just stayed composed and keep going."

Matthew is looking to become the first player in her 40s to win on the LPGA Tour since Helen Alfredsson won in China in 2008 at 43. The 41-year-old mother of two who has won only three times in 17 years on tour, had a 67 on Saturday. Her last win was the 2009 British Women's Open, 11 weeks after she gave birth to her second child.

Alfredsson is doing color commentary for the Golf Channel this week.

"As you said, I've been on tour a long time," said Matthew, who had six birdies and two bogeys. "I've learned from those situations before and I'll be nervous tomorrow. So I just need to hopefully learn from being there in the past and cope with it."

Lincicome, looking for her first win since 2009, was alone at 6 under after shooting a tournament-best 64 that featured seven birdies and no bogeys.

"I drove it well, I hit it to most of the greens well and I just seemed to make everything," said Lincicome, who was tied for 30th after the opening round. "Nothing really went in yesterday so I must have been saving them for today."

Lincicome has not won since capturing the Kraft Nabisco Championship with an eagle on the final hole for her first and only major.

"I am just looking to win and get back in the winner's area, even the same zip code," she said. "It's been a while so it's nice to be near the top of the leaderboard. It's nice to be back in the media room and getting asked questions about my round. Everything is going in the right direction. I am working hard and playing well."

First-round leader Jiyai Shin (71), fellow South Korean Amy Yang (67) and American Mindy Kim (65) were tied for fourth place, three shots behind Kerr. Brittany Lang (66) and Shi Hyun Ahn (67) were four shots behind the leader.

Anna Nordqvist (68), Katie Futcher (68), I.K. Kim (70), Karen Stupples (70) and Haeji Kang were all at 139, five out.

There were some amazing second-round turnarounds.

Birdie Kim followed an opening-round 85 with a 70, but still missed the cut at 4 over. Beatriz Recari of Spain shot a second-round 65 to move from a tie for 89th to a tie for 20th at 1 under. Sandra Gal, who was a shot behind Shin after the opening round, had a 74 and also was at 1 under.

Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer were at 1 over after rounds of 71.