It wasn't just remarkable that Cristie Kerr played golf on Thursday. It’s amazing that she even got out of bed.
Kerr was hospitalized last Friday after being thrown from a golf cart when she collided with another cart in total darkness at the Volunteers of America Classic. Her caddie, Matt Gelczis, was also hospitalized.
Yet, just six days later, Kerr opened the U.S. Women's Open with an even-par 71 on the Jackrabbit Course at Champions Golf Club. It was an astonishing feat given she'd suffered three dislocated ribs, had visible bruising on her arms and had to regularly take pain medication in order to make it through her round.
“We were both thrown from the cart, and I just I can't remember. I remember landing, I remember the impact, and ... I'm sorry,” Kerr said, pausing to gather herself through tears. “Maybe I shouldn't talk about it. I remember landing on my chest, and it was awful.”
Kerr said she could barely get out of bed for days after the accident because the pain in her back and chest was so severe. But the two-time major champion has played in every U.S. Women’s Open since 1998 and she was determined to not let her injuries sideline her from what she calls her “favorite tournament.”
Kerr is making her 25th U.S. Women’s Open appearance this week. In 2007, she won at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club and has seven more top-10s.
“It's our national championship. I feel like we're so lucky to play it with COVID that I just love it,” Kerr said. “If there is any way possible, I'm not going to miss this tournament.”
The timeline to getting her body in a condition in which she felt like she could compete was a step-by-step, day-by-day ordeal. On Monday, the two-time major champion says the idea of competing didn’t seem possible. On Tuesday, she chipped and putted and hit a few 60-yard chip shots that were painful. But her former caddie Brady Stockton, who stepped in for Gelczis this week, encouraged her to stay positive. By Tuesday afternoon Kerr was able to hit a few three-quarter iron shots on the range. On Wednesday, she moved up to hitting driver and long irons.
Kerr says she has undergone multiple daily cryotherapy treatments and worked extensively with the LPGA's physical therapists. She’s also icing down her body for two hours in the morning and the evening to get her body ready for play.
“I'm here, and I played, and I was tough today," Kerr said, "and I feel like I'm going to keep getting better every day.”