Kerr in the hunt

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

Cristie Kerr is intent on defending her Canadian Open title.

And yesterday she got off to a good start.

Kerr shot a two-under 69 at the Royal Mayfair Golf Club to stay within striking distance of the leaders at the CN Canadian Women's Open.

"I hit the ball pretty good," Kerr said following her opening round. "I didn't putt as well as I'd like to, I had a lot of chances out there for birdie and I missed a couple of short putts out there today.

"I have a lot to work on but with all that being said, I shot two-under, I'm only four back of the leader at this point and it's only Thursday, so I have a lot to be positive about."

Kerr walked off the 18th hole four shots back of leader Laura Diaz.

Kerr had a pair of birdies on the front nine, but fell back with a bogey just before the turn. Birdies on 14 and 16 had her at three-under at the 18th tee. But she finished the round with a bogey on the 402-yard par 4.

"I think there were a couple of holes that were downwind and played kind of easy," she said. "Then coming in, 16, 17 and 18 were into the wind. And 18 is playing tough - you're going to see a lot of bogeys there. I hit into the right rough, I had a bad lie and I made bogey."

A year ago in London, Ont., Kerr opened the tournament with a 67. She then found herself, at one point, eight shots back before shooting a 65 on the final day to win the tournament by one stroke over Angela Stanford.

Yesterday she was part of the last morning group with South Koreans Sun Ah Yim and Jeong Jang. Today she'll tee off from the 10th hole in the afternoon.

"I think the people that played early in the morning might not have had quite as much wind as we did," she said.

"But I got a good round under my belt. I missed a couple of short putts - one that I misread and one that I actually hit pretty well and it just lipped out. I left some out there today, but I'm encouraged by my play and I'm happy with my start."

Kerr came into the event having won the U.S. Open earlier this season. She sits third on the LPGA money list with $993,883 in earnings this year.

Last year's Canadian Open win was one of three tour victories for the native of Miami, Fla. She has one win in 2007.

"It's always been a goal of mine to defend here and it's a good start for me," she said.

"I think there are some greens that are really smooth and some that are really bumpy, just because they had a lot of rain last week.

"I think the reads are very subtle out here, but it's the first day on the course in competition and I shot two under, so I have to be pretty positive about that."


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