Overlooked no more, Kerr wins U.S. Open

Cristie Kerr
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Cristie Kerr finished at five under par.

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (AP) — Even with the silver trophy at her side, Cristie Kerr felt uneasy sharing the premonition she had all year about coming to Pine Needles and winning the U.S. Women's Open.

She might not have scripted it quite like this.

With a swing she spent the weekend trying to fix, Kerr played the final 45 holes with only two bogeys. She three-putted only once all week on the treacherous Donald Ross greens by using a putter she purchased at a pro shop in South Korea.

And going head-to-head with the No. 1 player in the world Sunday afternoon, Kerr drilled an 18-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole to take the lead and then watched as Lorena Ochoa made another series of mistakes down the stretch in a major.

"When I stepped on the grounds this week, it was just magic,'' Kerr said after closing with a 1-under 70 for a two-shot victory over Ochoa and Angela Park to end her 0-for-41 drought in the majors.

"Going head-to-head with Lorena and beating her ... it was special memories. You can't make this stuff up,'' she said. "These are thing you take to the grave and you just smile about.''

It was all too familiar for Ochoa.

With a chance to capture her first major and remove any doubt about who's the best in her sport, Ochoa struggled again with a quick swing under pressure and failed to hit a green in regulation over the final five holes.

"It hurts, but I did everything I could,'' Ochoa said.

The 25-year-old Mexican star closed with a 71 to tie for second with Park, an 18-year-old rookie who birdied the final hole for a 70. Morgan Pressel, who won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April, was two shots behind with five holes remaining until playing them in 5 over par for a 77, leaving the course in tears.

The celebration belonged to Kerr, who dropped to her knees and cried after tapping in for par on the final hole. She tossed her golf ball to fans who had circled the green, then leapt into the arms of her husband, Erik Stevens.

Kerr finished at 5-under 279 and earned $560,000 for her 10th career victory.

"It's been a dream of mine since I was a little girl,'' she said.

Kerr had been left out of most conversations about top young American players, with most of the attention going to Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome and Pressel. No one can ignore her now, not with her name ready to be engraved right below Annika Sorenstam on the biggest trophy in women's golf.

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