Kerr, others are excited it is returning to tour
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- If anyone mourned the LPGA's departure from Kingsmill Resort, it was Cristie Kerr, the final champion of the Michelob ULTRA Open in 2009.
Three years later, few are happier than Kerr that the LPGA has returned to the famed Pete Dye design on the banks of the James River. The Kingsmill Championship tees off Thursday.
"Nobody's looking forward to it more than me," said Kerr, 34. "I've got great memories here."
Kerr, the only two-time champion in the seven-year run of the Michelob ULTRA, has 14 LPGA victories but none over the last 26 months. If there's a logical place to end the drought, it's here.
"The golf course is one of my favorites, if not my favorite on the tour. Just good feelings all around when I come here," Kerr said. "I want to win really bad. It's getting to the point where, OK, it's time for one."
If any event seemed secure in its sponsorship, it was the Michelob, staged on a course owned by Anheuser-Busch. But when Belgian firm InBev took over the beer company, it discontinued its sponsorship and sold Kingsmill to Colorado-based Xanterra.
After he took over the sagging LPGA in 2010, one of commissioner Mike Whan's primary objectives was to re-establish an event at Kingsmill. A year after discussions began with Xanterra, a two-year deal was struck.
"There are places on the LPGA where we go and fans know us," Whan said. "They know the players. They know the history. They treat it differently than anywhere else. There are places like this that we needed to get back to."
Next year the tournament will move to May, a better date considering this year's event competes with college football, the opening week of the NFL and a NASCAR race in Richmond. Whan is working toward finding a permanent sponsor.
Whan realized how popular the event was with players when he announced its return.
"It's not too often that I send an email to players that gets unanimous support," said Whan, who played in the pro-am Wednesday. "This was unbelievable -- high fives all around."