BEDMINSTER, N.J. — After Cristie Kerr saved par on the 15th hole, an acrobatic feat after her drive found a bunker and her second shot found the rough, she set out on another tough mission.
Standing just off the 15th green, Kerr turned away from the course and waved at a tent-shaped building with big glass windows. Inside was President Trump, a friend of Kerr, watching the U.S. Women’s Open at his Trump National Golf Club for the second straight day after arriving Friday.
Trump didn’t see her, and a second wave also went unnoticed. Then Kerr started doing jumping jacks as the crowd laughed behind her. That didn’t work either, and she shook her head and smiled as she walked to the tee at No. 16.
Kerr’s day eventually ended with a visit to the president in his enclosed viewing area. It also ended with a 2-under-par 70 on her scorecard, putting her at 4 under for the tournament and within striking distance of the leader, China’s Shanshan Feng, at 9 under. South Korea’s Amy Yang and 17-year-old South Korean amateur Hye-Jin Choi are tied for second at 8 under through three rounds.
“Obviously I know him fairly well,” Kerr said of trying to get Trump’s attention at the 15th hole. “I don’t see him that often, but he’s a huge supporter of women’s golf and it was just fun, just going, ‘I know the president,’ you know? But now I think the people you used to know I don’t know them that well anymore because he’s really hard to get to.”
Players moved in two directions Saturday, fading from contention or securing Sunday relevancy. The 39-year-old Kerr achieved the latter, but that’s about all she has in common with the rest of the contending pack. She is the only American of the nine players who are at 4 under or better heading into the final round. She is also the only player over 30 in that group.
Of the 62 players who made the cut and teed off Saturday, only 19 were 30 or older. At the start of the tournament there were nearly as many players age 15 to 19 (20) as there were age 30 to 39 (30). Of the 13 players who went into Saturday at 3 under or better, none was older than 27.
“I think they are starting so young. Basically, these amateurs, they are professional amateurs,” Juli Inkster, a 57-year-old pro who is part of the tournament broadcast, said this past week. “They play worldwide. They play in the summer. They are playing like every week or every other week. They are playing a lot of golf. I think you get to a certain age and you are like, ‘Man, there’s more out there. I want to do different things.’ I think that’s what you see a lot of.”
This stage isn’t new for Kerr, who won the U.S. Women’s Open a decade ago and has 19 victories on the LPGA Tour. She nearly withdrew from the tournament Friday because of muscle spasms in her back but hung in to shoot a 1-over 73 and felt much better during the third round.
Kerr is loud and animated on the course, often barking at her ball to “Sit!” or “Go!” or “Come on! Stay right!” Conversations with her caddie can usually be heard from outside the ropes lining the course. After her improbable par on No. 15, Kerr’s drive sailed past the ropes at No. 17 and beyond the cart path.
She whacked her approach shot from a grassy hill and quickly shuffled up it to see how it looked. It landed right on the edge of the green, drawing cheers from a big crowd, and she again saved par.
“Just doing the same thing I’ve done for 20 years,” Kerr said, before she was asked whether she meant to say 21.
“Twenty-one,” she answered, shrugging. “I’m old. I can’t remember.”
Her round ended with a chance to birdie No. 18, but she left the putt a bit wide and finished with a tap-in par. She then snaked through the crowd around the clubhouse and walked toward Trump’s viewing area. He stepped to the front window and beckoned her up, and she pointed to her scorecard to indicate that she had to go sign it first.
After she did that and conducted a few interviews, Kerr walked past the players’ locker room, up a flight of steps and did what she couldn’t do at the 15th hole. Now, the president’s attention was hers.
“We’ll just talk, I guess,” Kerr said before heading to visit Trump. “I don’t know. I’m not going to talk politics. I can tell you that.”