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Golfer Cristie Kerr toasts Aussie Open with South Australian wine


Top American golfer Cristie Kerr has warmed up for this week’s LPGA event in South Australia with a trip to one of the world’s leading wine regions and Australia’s most famous cellar door.

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The world No.9 is Down Under to play in the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open, which begins Thursday in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.

Kerr is an avid wine connoisseur and is studying to be a sommelier. She also has her own wine brand, Kerr Cellars.

Australia is the sixth largest wine producing country in the world and South Australia produces about half of the nation’s wine.

Kerr visited Penfolds Magill Estate on Monday – Australia’s most famous cellar door and the home of the world-renowned red wine Penfolds Grange.

On Tuesday, Kerr went on a private wine tour of the Barossa Valley, Australia’s leading wine region about an hour’s drive north of Adelaide. The Barossa is home to several top Australian brands such as Jacob’s Creek, Penfolds and Wolf Blass.

“I love experiencing different wineries in the States and it was great to get the private tour there and to be able to purchase some wines that we can’t get in the States,” Kerr said.

“I bought a couple of cases of wine and am trying to figure out how to ship it back now.

“It’s all research for me, I’m studying to be a sommelier, but I’m also here for the golf.”

The 40 year old yesterday turned her full attention to golf by competing in the Pro-Am at the challenging Kooyonga Golf Club ahead of the opening round on 15 February.

It will be Kerr’s first LPGA event of the year and is the first time she will tee it up Down Under since playing in the Australian Open in 2012.

This week’s field features eight of the world’s top 20 players including So Yeon Ryu, Kerr, Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson and Ariya Jutanugarn. The players will compete

Eight past Women’s Australian Open champions including Karrie Webb, Ha Na Jang, Haru Nomura and Laura Davies will also vie for a US$1.3 million purse and 500 points in the Race to the CME Globe.

Kerr, who won twice last year on the LPGA tour, is the highest ranked American player in the field and will be joined at the tournament by more than a dozen fellow Americans including Morgan Pressel, Angel Yin, Marina Alex and Nelly Korda.

Kooyonga in suburban Adelaide has held the men’s Australian Open five times but is hosting the women’s event for the first time this week. Players have praised the condition of the course but are wary of its firm greens and tricky layout.

“This golf course is certainly going to test anybody’s golf game,” Kerr said.

“It’s a very challenging course, it’s a good test.

“You have to control your golf ball and you have to be a short game wizard out there, have good touch around the greens.”

As well as being a world-class wine-producing state, South Australia has also positioned itself as a hub for elite women’s sport and hosts annual international cycling event the Women’s Tour Down Under.

It is the third year in a row the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open has been held in Adelaide following successful events Royal Adelaide and The Grange.

It was announced this week that the South Australian capital will continue to host the event until at least 2021.

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