Cristie Kerr still smarting from Solheim loss
Cristie Kerr says she's still hurting.
Her sore right wrist, however, is feeling better, thank you.
Kerr, the top-ranked American in the world at No. 3, sat out the final day of singles play at the Solheim Cup two weeks ago as Europe beat the United States. With tendinitis sending Kerr to the sideline, she was forced to concede to Europe's Karen Stupples, and the Americans eventually failed to retain the Solheim Cup by one point.
Kerr is back on the golf course, ready to tee off Friday in the 54-hole HanaBank Championship in Incheon, South Korea, but she's not yet over the ache of disappointment.
Kerr told reporters this week that her Solheim withdrawal was a "traumatic day." She had been healthy all season but was bothered by tendinitis almost from the moment the U.S. team arrived in Ireland. She played through it in early matches but couldn't go to the finish.
"I guess just playing 36-36 [holes] at the Solheim just really made it angry, and I had weakness and unbearable pain," Kerr said. "There was no way that I was going to be able to tee off. It's hard to tell people how much pain I was in, but playing for your teammates, your country, yourself, your captain, and not being able to do any of that was really tough for me."
For nine days after the Solheim Cup, Kerr said she had her right arm in a splint while taking anti-inflammatories three times daily.
"It was excruciating," she said. "It was the worst pain of my career. I've played through a broken rib, I've played through knee issues, neck issues, and this was really the first time I'd ever been sidelined or benched playing, so that gives people an idea of how much pain I was in on Sunday."
After arriving in South Korea, Kerr hit balls on Tuesday for the first time since the inflammation and announced plans to keep her right arm in a splint this week whenever she is not playing or practicing.
"I'm going to have to baby it and treat it and I'm expecting to be in some discomfort," she said. "I was in very little pain [Tuesday], but I only hit about 30 balls. So it's doing better than expected, but I'm going to have to monitor it and treat it. Tendinitis, sometimes it flares up and sometimes it goes away completely. You can have it for a very long time or there can be other things that come of it. So we're just going to have to take it day by day and see."
Choi happy at home
How do you say, "Home, sweet, home" in Korean?
Easy: HanaBank Championship.
Not only is South Korea's Na Yeon Choi in her homeland this week in search of her third consecutive HanaBank title, but in the event's nine-year history all but two winners have been South Koreans.
Norway's Suzann Pettersen in 2007 and Taiwan native Candie Kung in 2008 are the only non-Korean winners.
Last year Choi carded a final-round 69 for a 2-stroke victory over Vicky Hurst. Choi has posted seven top-10 finishes this season, including a one-hole playoff loss to Pettersen at the Safeway Classic, but she is still looking to secure her first LPGA Tour victory of 2011.
"A lot of people expect me to three-peat, and honestly I have a lot of pressure but I hope to use that pressure in a good way," Choi told reporters this week. "Like to use it to my advantage. But you know, I will say that I can't control the result. So the one thing is that I will try my best and I will try to show the gallery the best that I can do. I feel that I want a three-peat, but I know it's difficult to do."
This is the first week for the LPGA's late-season "Asian Swing" that continues in Malaysia and then moves to Japan.
World No. 1 Yani Tseng headlines the limited field of 69 players who will be competing for a $1.8 million purse and a $270,000 first-place prize. Eight of the top 10 players and 48 of the top 52 in the Rolex Rankings are in action.
Tseng in command
This year's LPGA postseason awards are likely to be presented with an absence of suspense.
Yani Tseng, come on down.
With five LPGA wins and eight worldwide in 2011, the 22-year-old from Taiwan has held the world No. 1 ranking for 33 consecutive weeks, and she is poised to sweep the year-end LPGA awards.
Heading into this week, Tseng has a lopsided $778,622 lead over Kerr on the money list, a 144-point lead over Stacy Lewis in the Rolex Player of the Year race -- which she won last year -- and a 0.75-stroke advantage over Kerr in the race for the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average.
Statistically, Tseng ranks first in seven categories: birdies, rounds under par, rounds in the 60s, top-10 finishes, greens hit, scoring and driving distance (268.6). She also ranks third in eagles and fourth in putts per green in regulation.
"Every time, every tournament I just try my best," Tseng told reporters in South Korea. "If I told myself to do something, I feel that I can do it almost always 100 percent. So I need to keep working hard and keep learning, and I still have a long ways to go. There are a lot of things that I can achieve."