WILLIAMSBURG—Cristie Kerr's new attitude is serving her quite well.
Kerr, fresh off working with "Zen Golf" author and golf instructor Joe Parent on her mental approach, put his peaceful principles into practice Friday, tying the River Course record with an 8-under-par 63 in the second round of the Michelob Ultra Open that left her three shots back of Lorena Ochoa.
Kerr, the 2005 Mich Ultra champion, is in a three-way tie for second at 10 under with In-Kyung Kim and Song-Hee Kim, who also shot 63 on Friday.
"(Parent) firmly believes that you really have to go through the process each time, each shot, of what you're trying to do, and get involved in that," Kerr said. "He says if you do that well every single time, you add (the shots) up, and at the end you'll probably be pretty happy, and today I was."
Kerr woke up Friday morning feeling she might do something special. After opening with two pars off the 10th tee, she proved herself right on the 396-yard, par-4 12th hole with the first of eight birdies in a bogey-free round.
"That kind of jump-started my round," said Kerr, who birdied five holes on the back nine, including Nos. 3, 4 and 5. "The putt went in on the next hole, and I just said, 'Let's just see how well we can do with every shot.' You just kind of ride the momentum. You don't really think about it too much. I try to stay in the present, because you always still have shots ahead of you."
The present clearly is comfortable for Kerr, who has tied for second, finished fifth and tied for fifth, and tied for seventh in so far in a profitable 2009 to pocket more than $385,000. But her past is none too shabby, either.
She's won 11 tournaments, including the 2007 U.S. Women's Open, and almost $9 million since her 1997 rookie season. In 2005, she shot three straight rounds of 68 and cruised to a five-shot victory at Kingsmill.
Since then, "I think I've just gotten better," Kerr said. "I've worked on the mental side of the game. I was trying to get to that next level where I can be in contention more. That's where I like to be."
She's there this weekend and isn't intimidated by world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa grabbing the leaderboard by its throat at 13 under.
"I've been out here long enough to kind of know not to really put the pressure on myself," Kerr said. "You've still got to go out there every shot and do your job, and if you do your job, then it will yield a low number. It's not a given that (Ochoa) is going to win. You've just got to be able to put pressure on whoever the leader is, whether it's her or somebody else."
That all goes back to staying in the moment, maintaining focus on every shot and waiting until the end of the round to assess the day. But as even-keel as she's trying to be, Kerr admits she's ready to win again. She hasn't hoisted a trophy on Sunday since her Open victory on July 1, 2007.
"I know that if I keep putting myself in this position, it'll happen," she said. "I've done very well being process-oriented on the course and not really thinking about results, because I don't do well when I think about results. I do well when I think about my process."
The Zen Golf doctor would be proud.