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Top US player here for the golf - and the wine

Sport

Top American golfer Cristie Kerr has warmed up for this week’s LPGA event in Adelaide with a trip to one of our leading wine regions and Australia’s most famous cellar door.

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The world No.9 is in Adelaide to play in the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open, which begins today at the Kooyonga Golf Club in Lockleys.

Kerr is an avid wine connoisseur and is studying to be a sommelier. She also has her own wine brand, Kerr Cellars.

She visited Penfolds Magill Estate on Monday and then went a private wine tour of the Barossa Valley on Tuesday.

“I love experiencing different wineries in the States and it was great to get the private tour there and to be able to purchase some wines that we can’t get in the States,” Kerr said.

“I bought a couple of cases of wine and am trying to figure out how to ship it back now.

“It’s all research for me. I’m studying to be a sommelier, but I’m also here for the golf.”

The 40-year-old yesterday turned her full attention to golf by competing in the Pro-Am at the challenging Kooyonga course ahead of today’s opening round.

It will be Kerr’s first LPGA event of the year and is the first time she will tee it up Down Under since playing in the Australian Open in 2012.

This week’s field features eight of the world’s top 20 players including So Yeon Ryu, Kerr, Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson and Ariya Jutanugarn.

Eight past Women’s Australian Open champions including Karrie Webb, Ha Na Jang, Haru Nomura and Laura Davies will also vie for a US$1.3 million purse and 500 points in the Race to the CME Globe.

Kerr, who won twice last year on the LPGA tour, is the highest ranked United States player in the field and will be joined at the tournament by more than a dozen Americans including Morgan Pressel, Angel Yin, Marina Alex and Nelly Korda.

Kooyonga has held the men’s Australian Open five times but is hosting the women’s event for the first time this week. Players have praised the condition of the course but are wary of its firm greens and tricky layout.

“This golf course is certainly going to test anybody’s golf game,” Kerr said.

“It’s a very challenging course, it’s a good test.

“You have to control your golf ball and you have to be a short game wizard out there, have good touch around the greens.”

Australia’s greatest golfer, Karrie Webb, will chase her sixth national title and 42nd LPGA win when she tees off today but said she is also chasing some work-life balance to extend her career.

Webb, 43, said that in unlike past years when the ISPS Handa Australian Open was the first of six events in seven weeks, the tournament could be one of only about 10 this year for her on tour.

“I think this will be my 23rd season and golf’s a 12-month commitment. As the years have gone on I’ve still put golf first but the last handful of years I haven’t felt good about always choosing golf,” Webb said.

“I’m trying out the part-time schedule this year … so hopefully I can take part in some life events and still play some golf, because I still feel like there’s a little bit left there.”

Webb is also considering playing some events on the Legends Tour in the United States, which she will be eligible for once she turns 45.

It is the third year in a row the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open has been held in Adelaide following successful events Royal Adelaide and The Grange.

It was announced this week that Adelaide will continue to host the event until at least 2021.

– The Lead

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