The putts for birdies were still on their way to the hole and Cristie Kerr was already marching behind them, as she knew they were going to drop in.
On Sunday the Kia Classic had a familiar feel to Kerr, even though there have been big changes in her own life. With four birdies over a stretch of five holes, Kerr was able to erase a deficit of three shots during the final round of play. The four consecutive birdies came on the back nine at Aviara Golf Club and allowed her to pull away from her competitors Mirim Lee and Lydia Ko the world’s No. 1.
Kerr shot a final round 7-under 65 to win by two strokes over Lee and three over Ko. The win was her seventeenth on tour but this one was different from every one before it. Prior to posing with her tournament trophy, Kerr first grabbed her son, 15-month old Mason, to celebrate her first victory as a mom.
Kerr said she had hoped the day would come when she could grab her son after a victory and it finally arrived. Kerr ended 42 consecutive events on the LPGA without a win that dated back to the Kingsmill Championship in 2013.
She finished the tournament at 20-under breaking the scoring record for 72 holes at the tournament by 6 shots. The tournament was first held in 2010.
The win also ended a streak of seven straight events on the LPGA won by players born in South Korea that dated back to last year’s CME Group Tour Championship.
Lee came close to making it 8 straight for the South Koreans when she was able to drive the short par-4 16th to within 4 feet for eagle. She sank the putt to move within one of Kerr. However, her tee shot on seventeen was pushed into the trees and she never recovered. She finished the par-5 17th with a double bogey and ended her chances of winning.
Ko tied for the lead after recording a birdie on the par-3 14th. However, the world’s No. 1 player could not birdie again over her final four holes. She three putted for a bogey on the closing hole to finish in third place.
The round was Ko’s 28th straight under par on Tour and puts her one short of Annika Sorenstam’s record set back in 2004. Ko will play next at the ANA Inspiration the first major of this year on the LPGA. It was also the 10th straight top 10 finish for Ko.
Kerr could not hold back tears when she won. The 37-year old said her caddie’s father died last week and she wanted the victory for both of them.