Kerr experiences golf at the world level for Canada

Susan Filkins

Last summer a committee in Canada sat down to pick four of the country’s top golfers to represent them in the World Amateur Tournament. Basing the decision on each golfer’s previous two years of tournament competition, they selected Gophers junior Rob Kerr as one of the four.
“It was an honor,” Kerr said. “I guess I was surprised that I was picked, but I think it was because of my finish in college last year and a successful summer that did it.”
Last spring Kerr won top honors at the NCAA Central Regional, cashing in on his first collegiate tournament victory and All-American status. Over the summer, Kerr, a native of Pointe Claire, Quebec, won the Quebec Amateur Tournament, putting him in the front running to be named to the Canadian Amateur Team.
He joined three other college students — who compete for New Mexico, Ohio State, and Arkansas — to play in the four-day World Amateur Tournament in Manila, Philippines.
Canada finished three shots behind third-place Spain in fourth, marking its best finish since it won the tournament in 1984. Australia finished 10 shots ahead of second-place Sweden to win. The United States, which won the competition two years ago, finished ninth.
“We were in seventh place at first, but we made a move on the second day to move in to second place,” Kerr said. “Then we had a poor round that dropped us out of medal contention. We rebounded in the last round though. Overall we were pretty pleased with our finish.”
The way the tournament was set up, two players competed in the morning round and the other two played the afternoon session. Kerr shot a 70 in the last afternoon round to bring his team up from its original seventh-place standing. He finished 30th overall from a field of 200 players. Kerr said the tournament was a great experience.
“The tournament was covered on national TV,” he said. “There were cameras on every hole, and they even had big leader boards everywhere. It was a pretty big deal down there. This tournament is like the Olympics of golf, because golf is not an Olympic sport. It is definitely the coolest thing I have ever been a part of.”
Two typhoons passed through the Philippines a week before the players arrived, making the already difficult courses more of a problem for the first four practice days. The two courses, both designed by PGA golfer Jack Nicklaus, were soaked, but dried out nicely for competition rounds.
“There were some ridiculous puddles to contend with at first, but then the weather was warm and windy, and it really dried the courses up,” Kerr said.
The World Amateur Tournament originated in 1960 and is held every two years. Fifty countries competed in this year’s tournament, several of which do not have strong golf programs. The Russian team was just happy to be there representing its country.
Kerr also participated in an annual NCAA tournament during the last week of October, honoring all returning All-Americans. The three-round tournament was held in El Paso, Texas. Kerr shot a 71, 75, and 74 — good enough for an 11th place finish out of 20 players.
“It was a pretty good time,” Kerr said. “We got a lot of free stuff — even a pair of cowboy boots. We also went out a lot. I guess the tournament would be sort of like a bowl game in football.”
After suffering through more than 30 hours of traveling and a five-hour layover in Toronto, Kerr finally returned home to Minneapolis on Tuesday night. The last thing he wanted to do was catch up on homework, he said, having been gone for two weeks playing golf and enjoying the warm sun.