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Cristie Kerr wins by a shot

Cristie Kerr won the rain-delayed LPGA State Farm Classic by one shot over Anna Nordqvist and Na Yeon Choi on Monday.

The final round of the event was played a day late due to weekend rain interrupting play. Kerr fought off flulike symptoms and late challenges from Nordqvist and Choi, shooting a 3-under 69 in the final round to finish at 22-under 266 at Panther Creek Country Club.

Kerr had a two-shot lead heading to the final hole, so a bogey on the final hole gave her the one-shot victory. It is her second State Farm Classic win, and she becomes the first American to win on the LPGA tour since Michelle Wie won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last November.

“That definitely motivates me to be the top American and top player on tour,” said Kerr, who won $255,000 to move into the second on the money list, $60,000 behind Ai Miyazato. “I’m just happy not to have to answer, ‘Why are there no American winners anymore?’ “

Juli Inkster, whose first-round 65 had her tied for second, shot 68-71 on the weekend to end in 35th.

Karrie Webb made her way into a tie for 11th with a final-round 65. Natalie Gulbis went 4 under in her closing round to finish tied for 36th and Wie finished at 6 under, tied for 52nd.

Kerr led after third-round play was completed Sunday morning and would have been the champion if the fourth round had been washed out. But with more than half the round completed when heavy rain and lightning rolled in Sunday, tour officials decided to try to finish the tournament Monday.

Kerr never wavered. After Saturday’s delay, she made six more birdies to finish with a 63. Monday, she birdied three holes before an inconsequential bogey on 18.

Kerr said the stormy conditions Sunday helped her.

“It was actually to my advantage that they called play last evening, because I was just exhausted,” she said. “I didn’t sleep well at all on Saturday night, just up coughing the whole night.”

Kerr came down with flulike symptoms early in the week and then weathered two storm postponements that left birdie putts on the course to post rounds of 67-67-63-69. She missed the green and bogied 18 on Monday, but with a two-shot lead over Nordqvist and Choi, her two-putt was good for the victory.

“You know, you always want to try and complete the tournament to be able to feel like you earned it,” Kerr said. “I would have taken it, don’t get me wrong, but this feels better.”

Choi birdied three of her last four holes to get to 21 under, but Nordqvist, who birdied four straight before the rain stopped play on Sunday, was up and down after the break. She bogeyed the par-4 12th and before birdies on Nos. 13-14. She had another birdie chance on the par-5 16th, but missed a short put. She had to get up and down from the sand on 18 to save par, but the bad read on 16 is what really cost her.

“I knew I had to make a couple of birdies those last couple of holes to give it a shot, but I gave this my best,” she said. “I thought I hit a pretty good putt, it just broke a little too much. I mean, that’s life.”

First-round leader Shanshan Feng and Hee Young Park, who just missed a birdie putt on 18 that would have given her a final-round 62, ended tied for fourth at 20 under. Feng, the only Chinese golfer on the tour, loves to play Panther Creek.

“I think this course fits me. It’s not an easy course, but I feel like it’s good for me as a long hitter,” she said. “My putting was really good. My putting is not usually that good, but it’s good here.”

Park’s 63 was a personal best and included nine birdies. She was playing on an injured knee and the delay may have helped.

“It’s getting worse, so I rested it,” she said. “That was a good choice.”

A day into the new week on tour, Kerr was already thinking of what lay ahead.

“Winning is a great feeling, but you can’t stop there,” she said. “You’ve got to be able to set new goals. I’ve got another tournament (this) week and then I’ve got another major.”

Rain forces a Monday finish

The weather-plagued LPGA State Farm Classic at Panther Creek Country Club has been delayed again, with the final round being pushed back until Monday.

Cristie Kerr and Anna Nordqvist held the tournament lead Sunday at 20 under. Na On Min, Jee Young Lee, Katie Futcher, Gwladys Nocera and Na Yeon Choi were three shots off the pace.

It was debated whether to award the title to Kerr, the leader after 54 holes, and cancel the fourth round but LPGA rules official Jim Haley said they will try to finish the 72-hole tournament on Monday.

Players will attempt to tee off at 7:30 a.m. CDT. There is an 80 percent chance of rain on Monday.

“Because so many players finished their 72 holes, we decided to make every effort to give everyone the same chance,” Haley said. “We got more holes in than we thought we would today and it just wouldn’t be fair to everyone.”

Heavy rains fell Saturday for three hours, which delayed the completion of the third round until Sunday morning.

The tail end of a storm cell moved over the course from the north on Sunday afternoon, creating lightning strikes and more heavy rain. At 2:46 p.m., the course’s storm alert system triggered a halt in play.

Officials thought play could resume around 5:30 p.m. Water was cleared off the greens and tee boxes, but another quickly developing storm washed out play for the day.

Kerr started her third round fast on Saturday, posting an eagle on the par-5 No. 1 hole at Panther Creek. She added a birdie on No. 4 and was standing over a short birdie putt on the No. 5 when the storm alert system sounded with lightning in the area.

She maintained her momentum on Sunday, holing the birdie putt and then posting birdies on two of the last four holes. She shot 30 on the front nine and finished with a 63 in the third round. Her tournament total of 19 under gave her a three-stroke lead.

Nordqvist moved into second place alone with a third-round 65 and followed that with five birdies around a bogey on the nine holes she completed to climb into a tie with Kerr.

“It’s all about patience,” Nordqvist said. “I had a lot of momentum (Saturday) and I kept it going. I’m actually excited about a Monday finish.”

Especially since Nordqvist now has a chance to win the tournament.

“It takes a lot of energy not knowing what’s going to happen,” she said. “But it’s the same for everybody.”

Kerr cooled a bit between rounds on Sunday, carding just a single birdie over her first eight holes. She will be facing a short birdie putt when she begins play on Monday.

Min is the only player among the top eight golfers who finished her final round.

Karrie Webb and Yani Tseng shot 65 and 67, respectively, and are in a group of six at minus-16. Amy Yang has the most holes left in that bunch with 10. Sun Young Yoo was playing No. 15, first-round leader Shanshan Feng was at 13, and Hee Young Park was on 12 when the storms came.

Second-round leader M.J. Hur fell off a quick pace set before the postponement to a third-round 71. Defending champion In-Kyung Kim was steady all weekend, shooting a 275, but she never approached the top 10.

Scores

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