Defending champion Kerr goes quietly

EDINA, Minn. (AP) — Cristie Kerr left Interlachen on Friday night with the same cocksure feeling she had when she won the U.S. Women’s Open a year ago.

Speaking with the bravado of a defending champion, she said there was just something about this golf course nestled in the hilly terrain of suburban Minneapolis that stirred the same kind of fires that Pine Needles did last year.

After those bold proclamations and sharp play had her two shots off the lead, Kerr went quietly over the last two days of the tournament. Playing with Annika Sorenstam on Sunday, Kerr shot a 2-over 75 and tied for 13th.

She double-bogeyed Nos. 4 and 9 for a 39 on the front nine.

“I definitely enjoyed it. Yesterday, shot myself in the foot a little bit with the way I hit it,” Kerr said, referring to another 75 on Saturday. “I came out today and played like a champ and shot two over with two doubles. I fought really hard. It didn’t play easy out there. Not at all.”

The most memorable part of this Open for the fiery American undoubtedly will be playing the final round with Sorenstam, who plans to retire at the end of the year.

Kerr had a ringside seat for Sorenstam’s memorable finish, when she holed out for eagle with a 6-iron from 199 yards away on No. 18.

“I said, ‘That’s the best shot I’ve ever seen,”‘ Kerr told Sorenstam as they hugged. “She said, ‘It’s the only way I was going to break 80.”‘

Funny, but true. Sorenstam finished with a 75 as well.

Kerr said she thought she hit the ball very well on a windy day at Interlachen, but had some bad luck on No. 4, when her tee shot went in the bunker and left a tough lie.

“It just landed in a rake mark,” Kerr said. “These bunkers are hard enough without it being in a hole, and I had no shot. So I did the best I could this week.”

LEWIS FALLS BACK: After shooting a 67 on Saturday to become a surprise leader heading into the final round of her first professional tournament, Stacy Lewis came back to earth on Sunday.

She shot a 5-over 78 and tied for third at 4 under.

“I wasn’t that nervous at all,” Lewis said. “It was just a cool experience. The whole day was just awesome. The fans are great. I mean everybody is yelling your name as you’re walking down the fairway.”

The 23-year-old, who needed back surgery to correct scoliosis and wasn’t sure if she’d ever play golf even in college, let alone the pros, had a storybook weekend, even if it didn’t end with a trophy.

“It’s hard to be upset,” she said with a shrug and a smile. “I finished third at the U.S. Open in my first pro event.”

QUITE A SOUVENIR: Call it a case of perfect timing for Sara Anderson.

The native of Shakopee, about 25 miles southwest of Minneapolis, arrived at the grandstand on No. 18 about 10 minutes before Sorenstam’s amazing eagle.

Because Anderson was with her mother, who is handicapped, the two got a seat in the front row of the stands – and one heck of a souvenir.

After Sorenstam walked to the green and pulled her ball from the cup, she threw it into the stands, just over Anderson’s head.

“It got knocked down behind me and then I heard it fall on the ground and it was right down by my foot,” a breathless Anderson said with a smile.

She picked the ball up and jumped up and down at her luck, and later got it autographed by Sorenstam.

“It was probably more exciting getting a hug from her than actually getting it signed,” Anderson said.

URIBE’S TOURNEY: Maria Jose Uribe of Colombia shot 75 on Sunday to finish 2 under tie for 10th, the best showing by an amateur in the field.

Uribe will be a sophomore at UCLA when classes resume in the fall and will get to tell her friends back at school about what it feels like to play with Kerr and Lorena Ochoa the first two days.

“I learned a lot of stuff and just enjoyed the week,” Uribe said. “And I had fun.”

Uribe won the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Crooked Stick last year, but will not be back to defend her title. She decided to skip it because she is playing the four LPGA majors this year and said she doesn’t have time because the British Open finishes the day before the Amateur begins.

“It’s a tough decision,” Uribe said. “Hopefully it’s the right one.”

It all comes down to experience, said Uribe, who has never been to Europe. She wants to get the feeling of playing the British under her belt before she turns pro so she isn’t surprised when the money is on the line.

“Hopefully when I’m a pro I’ll already have a couple of British Opens and I will know how to play those,” she said. “So it’s basically just for experience and to grow as a player.”

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