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Cristie Kerr rallies from 3-stroke deficit to win LOTTE title

By The Sports Xchange
Cristie Kerr rallies from 3-stroke deficit to win LOTTE title
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.

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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.

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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."

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Third-ranked Ariya Jutanigarn and Stacy Lewis tied for seventh, six strokes behind Kerr. Jutanigarn shot a final-round 69 and Lewis a 66.

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