WILLIAMSBURG—For a second there, it looked like the winner of the Michelob Ultra Open wouldn't be old enough to drink the celebratory beer. Song-Hee Kim, the 20-year-old South Korean with unlimited potential, had just birdied No. 15 to take a one-shot lead.
But Cristie Kerr hadn't won 11 times on the LPGA Tour based on her charm and wit. She only had two birdies in Sunday's final round, but she kept her poise and ended up with a two-shot victory at 16-under par.
Two days after matching the tournament record with an 8-under 63, Kerr went just 1-under Sunday on a much tougher River Course. But while her competitors ran into trouble, Kerr kept it safe and simple.
"I just played solid today," said Kerr, who with her two birdies had one bogey and 15 pars. "I didn't hit it really close, but I'll tell you, the course played a lot different today. It played a lot tougher. They tucked (most) of the pins today, which is why the scores were what they were.
"That's what you had to do. You had to take it low (early) and then just shoot a good, solid round today. I'm a grinder. Even if I'm not playing 100 percent, I will grind it out."
Kerr grinded out her 12th career tournament title and moved to the top of LPGA's money list in 2009 with $711,624. Having also won here in 2005, Kerr has earned $953,610 in seven trips to Kingsmill — $660,000 on her two winner's checks.
In-Kyung Kim, who twice pulled into a share of the lead on Sunday, finished second at 14-under. Lindsey Wright, who shared the lead after three rounds with Kerr, and Song-Hee Kim tied for third at 13-under. Wendy Ward rounded out the top five at 11-under.
With the pin placements creating much higher scores in the final round, the leaderboard got fairly jumbled by mid-afternoon. Twice, albeit briefly, there was a four-way tie for the lead.
The pivotal moment came as Kerr, Wright and Song-Hee Kim shared the lead at 15-under. Kim then birdied No. 15, a par-5, to take sole possession of first. But instead of holding on for what would have been her first win on the tour, she had a nightmare on 16.
After an awful second shot that ended up in the rough, Kim two-putted from 4 feet for double-bogey. Seconds later, back on 15, Kerr was on the green in two and made birdie. Wright pared, and just like that, Kerr had gone from one shot back to one shot ahead.
Kerr still had three holes left, but nobody put any pressure on her. Wright closed with bogeys at Nos. 16 (which gave Kerr, who had a nice par save, a two-shot lead) and 18. In-Kyung Kim finished bogey-par-par. And Song-Hee Kim couldn't recover from that double-bogey on 16.
"I just tried to find my own game and try to be good mentally on every shot," said Kerr, who pared her last three holes. "And the momentum kind of swung in my favor when I birdied 15 and (Song-Hee Kim) double-bogeyed 16."
Wright, looking for her first tour win, got off to a nice start in the final round with a birdie at No. 1. But after making only one bogey through her first 55 holes, she had five in her final 17.
"Unfortunately, I started a little too aggressive in my putting and (had) a couple of three-putts earlier on," Wright said. "Otherwise, it might have been different at the turn. I might have been a couple of shots ahead."
While Kerr began Sunday as an 11-time winner on the tour, the Kims and Wright had a combined one championship (In-Kyung Kim's Longs Drugs Challenge last year). She's also 11 years older than the Kims.
But five weeks ago, Kerr went into the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship in second place — one shot behind Kristy McPherson (no wins on the tour) and one shot ahead of Brittany Lincicome (no major championships). In the end, Lincicome won, and Kerr tied McPherson for second.
"I've finished second a lot of times in my career, and I know you can't take anybody for granted," she said. "It could be somebody else's day if you don't make it your day."