Cristie Kerr rallied from three-strokes back to win the LOTTE Championship Saturday. File photo UPI/John Angelillo | License Photo
Cristie Kerr overcame a three-stroke deficit going into the final round with a bogey-free 66 to win the LOTTE championship on Saturday in Kapolei, Hawaii.
The 39-year-old American finished three shots ahead of three players with a 72-hole total of 20-under-par 268 that broke the tournament record at Ko Olina Golf Club.
Tied for second were Lydia Ko, In Gee Chun and Su-Yeon Jang, a sponsor invitee. Alena Sharp, a 35-year-old Canadian trying to win her first title on the LPGA Tour, finished another stroke back in fifth after she bogeyed the final hole for a 70.
Kerr's victory was her first on the LPGA Tour since the final event in 2015 and her 19th overall.
"Wow, I don't know what to say. It's been an epic day," Kerr said. "It didn't start out so hot, but I knew if I just hung in there and made a couple birdies I would get it going, and the back nine was magic for me this week.
Kerr put herself in position to contend when she blistered the course with a record-tying 62 during the third round that featured seven birdies on the back nine. She wasn't as sharp in the final round but collected six birdies and no bogeys.
Kerr fell five shots behind after the first holes in the final round. But on the back nine, Kerr had four birdies in a five-hole stretch, including three in a row at Nos. 13, 14 and 15. The birdie at 14 moved her into the lead.
"I tried not to really think about anybody but myself," Kerr said. "You know, I battled through so much this offseason, and this just feels is good."
Jang entered the final round with a three-shot lead but closed with a par 72. Ko made a run in a bid for her first title since last July, closing with a 64, and Chun finished with a 67.
"I knew I needed to play amazing and the other girls would need to lose shots," Ko said. "Going into the day eight shots behind -- four shots, five shots, there is a huge difference between eight (shots) to five. I knew that it was something -- it was the round of my life verse a mediocre round by everybody else.
"With how the girls are playing, it's just really hard to mend the gap. Considering where I was after the first day, I'm pleased with where I finished."
Third-ranked Ariya Jutanigarn and Stacy Lewis tied for seventh, six strokes behind Kerr. Jutanigarn shot a final-round 69 and Lewis a 66.