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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Maybe the End of an Era

You might think I'm talking about Leta Lindley's final tournament on the LPGA. Her missed cut Friday marked her retirement from the LPGA Tour. Her kids are 6 and 8 now, and she wants to spend her time with them. (I suppose that goes for her husband as well, since he's her caddy.)

But I'm not. Sad as a retirement is, that's not what I'm talking about.

And I could be wrong about this... but I don't think I am. So I want to mention it before it (probably) becomes final on Monday.

For 438 weeks Cristie Kerr has been in the Top 10 of the Rolex Rankings. That's over 8 years, and it's quite an accomplishment. But Cristie's struggles over the last few months finally dropped her down to #10 last week... and she too missed the cut at Kingsmill Friday.

Cristie's point average is 6.01 on the current ranking. Mika Miyazato is #11, a mere .07 points behind; she's T15 after the second round. And Jiyai Shin is #13, .6 points behind... and she's leading the tournament.

Cristie KerrIt doesn't look good for the current #10.

I have felt for a long time that Cristie was the best American player among the women. She's been a little uneven at times -- most players are -- but she just kept coming back. And that 438-week run in the Top 10 was the proof.

But I think -- and most folks agree -- Cristie is just getting in her own way right now. She's pressing, trying to get back in the winner's circle. Although the LPGA is slowly recovering from its economic problems, the schedule still isn't full enough to allow players to develop a rhythm of play... and I think that's affected her more than most.

Stacy Lewis is the unquestioned top American right now. I don't know how long it will last -- even Stacy's had a few struggles this year, and most of the LPGA players seem to be struggling with the lack of playing time -- but Stacy's definitely putting up the necessary numbers for now. And I see no reason to believe she won't play well going forward.

I suspect Cristie will rebound from her mini-slump and re-enter the Rolex Top 10 eventually. But it looks like the record will probably end this week. It's just another example of the changing of the guard we seem to be seeing in the world of golf across all the tours and around the world.

It was a good run, Cristie. Maybe now it's time to relax a bit and -- I hate platitudes like this, but in this case I think it's accurate -- "just let the game come to you." You really can't hold on to this game too tightly; a tense grip will kill your game faster than almost anything. And given that your putting seems to be suffering most right now, that sure sounds like the source of the problem.

Take a tip from Rory: Try to start enjoying yourself out on the course again. It certainly worked for him.

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