PGA Tour

Kerr becomes No. 1 in dominant fashion

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Cristie Kerr had her sights set on becoming the No. 1-ranked female in the world for a long time.

She went old-school Tiger Woods at the LPGA Championship last weekend, winning in dominant fashion, to finally earn that No. 1 ranking.

Kerr's performance was reminiscent of Woods at Augusta in 1997 or Pebble Beach in 2000. After sharing the first-round lead, she was five clear after two rounds, eight ahead through three and won by an "obscene" - her word - 12 strokes.

She had two other telling quotes on Sunday after wrapping up the victory, "It's a dream performance" and "I didn't limit myself."

Those phrases suit her weekend to a "T". She posted rounds of 68-66-69-66 while setting the LPGA Tour record for lowest score (269) in any of the four major championships. Her 19-under total also set a tour record for lowest score in relation to par in a major.

The dominating performance allowed her to jump from the fifth spot to the top of the women's world rankings, which started in 2006. She became the first American woman to be ranked No. 1.

Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa owned the top spot for the first four years, but Kerr is the fourth different player ranked No. 1 this year alone.

Ochoa started the season as the top player, but surprisingly announced her retirement earlier this year allowing Jiyai Shin to replace her atop the rankings.

Shin, who came back perhaps a little too soon from an emergency appendectomy last weekend, lost the top spot to Ai Miyazato while recovering from her surgery.

Miyazato needed to finish solo second behind Kerr to retain the No. 1 ranking for a second straight week. A pair of late bogeys cost her that chance, but also opened the door for Kerr to take over.

Though Locust Hill had four par-fives, Kerr did not make an eagle all week. She more than made up for that with 23 birdies versus just four bogeys, three of which were in the third round.

As she stated, Kerr didn't want to limit herself, and it showed down the stretch on Sunday. A birdie on the 10th gave Kerr a 10-stroke cushion. She posted three more birdies en route to a 12-shot victory. It helped that she didn't make a bogey over the final 22 holes of the championship.

The performance even impressed her competitors.

"That's almost too good," Miyazato joked.

Song-Hee Kim looked at it this way, "Forget about her and her round. She is too far away."

O'HAIR, THREE OTHERS RETURN TO ARONIMINK

Sean O'Hair has a distinct advantage over the rest of the field at this week's AT&T National. He is a member at the event's host course, Aronimink Golf Club.

He had seen the course before becoming a member though, and jokingly said he couldn't hit it out of his shadow back then.

Back then was the 1997 U.S. Junior Amateur. O'Hair lost in the semifinals that week -- to Trevor Immelman, who 11 years later won The Masters. O'Hair is one of four players in the field this week that competed in that event.

He will be joined at Aronimink by 2009 U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover as well as Steve Marino, who is still searching for his first PGA Tour title, and Hunter Mahan, who picked up his second PGA Tour victory earlier this season at the Phoenix Open.

O'Hair, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, may need his home-field advantage a little more than originally thought because he injured his back last week and had to leave the course Wednesday during the pro-am due to back pain.

In the 13 years since those four competed at the Junior Amateur, much has changed at Aronimink. Scores of trees have been removed and hundreds of yards have been added.

The added length won't concern these four much. O'Hair is the shortest driver of the group. Don't cry for O'Hair though, he averages over 285 yards off the tee and that is plenty long this week.

He'll just have to rely on the home-course advantage for knowing where to hit and not hit his shots, and to compensate for the balky back.

MINI-TIDBITS

- Bubba Watson collected his long-awaited first win last Sunday and did so while leading the field in driving. The only other player to lead the field in driving and win a tournament in the last two years was Dustin Johnson, who has done it twice in that span.

- Lee Westwood had a scare Wednesday when his right calf swelled and there was concern that he may have a blood clot. Doctors think it was just a reaction to the heat in Paris, and have given Westwood anti-inflammatory medication.

- European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie is also struggling with injury right now. He tore a calf muscle last week and that in turn has led to some Achilles problems.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

Follow Kevin Currie on Twitter and Facebook.

Powered by The Sports Network.