And it's not like people weren't taking runs at Kerr all week. Kim made 8 birdies and an eagle in her last 27 holes, Azahara Munoz went -6 in a bogey-free stretch of 22 holes on Friday and Saturday, and Amy Yang made 8 birdies in a 28-hole stretch on Thursday and Friday. But Kerr posted the lowest score of the day 3 times this week to crush the spirits of everyone trying to keep pace with her. Munoz played her last 23 holes in +4. Yang played her last 36 holes in +4. Jimin Kang played her last 16 holes in +3. But perhaps the most telling example is Mika Miyazato: midway through Saturday's round, she had pulled within 3 shots of the lead, but she played her final 24 holes in +7!
Ai Miyazato, whose 66 yesterday brought her into a tie for 3rd with Ji-Yai Shin, 14 shots off the pace, said it all when asked about Kerr's scoring this week:
I mean almost that's too good, I guess. Me and my caddie was talking about earlier this week winning scores going to be maybe 5- to 8-under or so. So she played really, really good and she had such a solid round on her second round, I guess. But she is just amazing. I played really good, too. But she is just better than me.
Even though Kerr found only 55.4% of her fairways, she hit the green in regulation 80.6% of the time from some very thick and usually wet rough and putted the lights out (taking only 110 strokes in all on the greens, tied with Song-Hee Kim and only 3 more than Ai Miyazato, who hit 16 fewer greens than she did on the week). Imagine how low she could have gone if she had been only slightly more accurate with her driver!
Kerr's victory this week puts me to mind of what turned out to be Annika Sorenstam's last LPGA win at the Michelob Ultra in May 2008. That was very nearly the perfect tournament, but it was also a kind of swan song, as she announced just 2 days later that she would be stepping away from competitive golf. Just as Annika's probable retirement robbed LPGA fans of a showdown between her and the new #1 Lorena Ochoa, so, too, did Ochoa's this season rob us of a showdown between her and her lead chase pack. Well, Kerr isn't going anywhere, Miyazato and Shin aren't backing down, Pettersen and Tseng are still in the hunt, and there are probably a dozen more players with a legitimate shot at the #1 spot before the season is out.
But right now Kerr and Miyazato have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the contenders for the various crowns the LPGA awards. Kerr's win pulls her with $60K of Miyazato on the money list, 17 points in the Player of the Year race, and helps bring her scoring average down to 69.40 (over a third of a stroke lower than her nearest competitor for the Vare Trophy, Song-Hee Kim). We'll have to wait to see them again at the U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont, where each has a great chance to become the 1st player in 2010 to break the $1M barrier. Neither is playing the
[Update 1 (11:18 am): Not only is Kerr #1 in the Rolex Rankings (.12 ahead of Miyazato), she's also #1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (.07 ahead of Ji-Yai Shin)! Here's Hound Dog and Jeff Skinner with more!]
[Update 2 (11:42 am): Here's Ryan Ballengee and Jason Sobel.]
[Update 3 (6/29/10, 10:50 am): Here's a very interesting follow-up from Ryan.]