SOUTHPORT, England, July 28 - American Cristie Kerr goes into this week’s Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale, the final major of the season, determined to fight her way back to the top of the world rankings.
The 2007 U.S. Women’s Open Champion became the first American to hold the number one spot after she collected her second major title with a record 12-shot victory in the LPGA Championship in Rochester last month.
Having spent three weeks as the world’s best woman golfer, she has now slipped to number three behind South Korea’s Shin Ji-yai, who won the Evian Masters on Sunday, and Japan’s Ai Miyazato.
“I definitely want to finish the year as world number one,” said the 32-year-old Kerr ahead of Thursday’s start. “It is very important to me. I am a proud American and I want to be the number one player but I know I’ll need a couple more tournament wins.
“I love the British Open. The links courses are so different and it is a great challenge. I remember playing here at Birkdale in 2005 (she finished joint fifth) and the weather was really bad. I hope it is better this week, but the wind always helps to make it interesting.”
Kerr’s best finish at the British was joint second behind Sherri Steinhauer at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 2006, while she tied for eighth behind Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, also at Lytham, last year.
Miyazato made her British Open debut at Birkdale in 2005 and finished joint 11th. A multiple winner in her native Japan, she says she struggled to fit into the U.S. way of life when she joined the LPGA Tour in 2006, but she got her breakthrough win in the Evian Masters last year and has added four more victories this season.
She was world number one before being knocked off top place by Shin this week, and showed her liking for links golf by finishing third at Lytham last year.
“I am really happy with my season and I always love the week at the British,” said Miyazato. “The courses are so different and you have to conjure up different shots but it is good fun.”