Kerr eager to defend her State Farm Classic title after two near-misses

cristie kerr
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Cristie Kerr is coming off second-place finishes at both the Sybase Match Play Championship and ShopRite Classic in recent weeks.
By
Associated Press

Series: LPGA Tour

Defending champion Christie Kerr, reigning Player of the Year Yani Tseng and last week's winner Brittany Lincicome headline a loaded field at what is shaping up to be the final LPGA State Farm Classic.

This is the last year of sponsorship from State Farm Insurance Companies after 19 years.

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2011 STATE FARM CLASSIC

This is the 37th edition of the State Farm Classic and possibly the last, because the event needs a new title sponsor to continue.

Playing with the uncertain future of the tournament, players are wary of the viability of Springfield bringing the LPGA Tour back for a 37th year, though they'll do what they can to help.

"I love this tournament. I've been here since I was a rookie and everybody is so nice," said Tseng, the world's top-ranked player. "I really love this place, so anything I can do."

Kerr echoed those sentiments.

"The LPGA is one of the best investments out there," said Kerr, who is trying to win her third State Farm Classic. "There is unlimited upside to what our tour can deliver, not only from a standpoint of customer entertainment, but the value we bring to any community."

Kerr has two runner-up trophies in a row among four top-10 finishes this season. She was second at the Sybase Match Play Championship and tied for second with Jiyai Shin a shot behind Lincicome last week in New Jersey.

"I played great. I can't complain," Kerr said. "A couple of putts on the back nine on Sunday go in and I'm winning two tournaments in a row. It's encouraging, a little bit frustrating, but it's a good problem to have."

Lincicome hadn't won on the LPGA Tour since 2009 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, but had little time to enjoy her ShopRite win last weekend.

"It's been kind of crazy," she said. "I had an outing Monday and I was rushing to the airport on Sunday and then got here late. Everyone was like, 'Did you party? Did you celebrate?' I haven't had time."

The win was a bit out of the blue for Lincicome, who finished second at the RR Donnelly LPGA Founders Cup in March and 13th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. But she had struggled in between, and bringing a new caddie on board has been a big help.

"It's been a great partnership so far," Lincicome said of hiring former LPGA Tour player-turned-caddie A.J. Eathorne. "I just needed that change. I just needed to hear something different."

Last year's State Farm Classic was forced to finish on Monday after storms rolled through the area during the third round. Rough weather could be a factor again as strong thunderstorms are possible Thursday and Friday at Panther Creek Country Club.

Lincicome is concerned about the weather's effect on conditions after playing nine holes on a nearly pristine golf course Wednesday.

"It seems to be perfect," she said. "Felt a little wet, but hopefully we don't get any rain in the next couple of days, which the forecast doesn't look too good for. The greens are great, the fairways are great. The rough is really thick like it normally is here. Fairways are going to be the key this week."