Kerr, 43, captured the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, North Carolina, defeating Lorena Ochoa and Angela Park by two strokes.

Kerr, a 20-time winner on the LPGA Tour, will be making her 24th consecutive start in the U.S. Women’s Open. She has finished in the top 10 eight times, most recently in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle in San Martin, California. Kerr was also a member of the 1996 USA Curtis Cup Team.

“Winning the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles was a career- and life-changing moment,” said Kerr, who grew up in Miami, Florida. “I’m grateful to everyone at the USGA for this special exemption and the opportunity to continue to play in what I consider our sport’s greatest championship. I can’t wait to arrive at The Olympic Club and tee it up in my 26th U.S. Women’s Open.”

Kerr’s special exemption brings the total number to 13 U.S. Women’s Open champions in the field.

Paula Creamer, the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champion, accepted a special exemption to play in this year’s championship last week. Prior to Creamer, two-time champion Karrie Webb, of Australia, was the last player to receive a special exemption into the U.S. Women’s Open, in 2018 at Shoal Creek in Alabama. The two most recent special exemptions before Webb were given to Se Ri Pak in 2016 at CordeValle, and Juli Inkster in 2013 at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York.

“I’m grateful to everyone at the USGA for this special exemption and the opportunity to continue to play in what I consider our sport’s greatest championship." - Cristie Kerr.

After 41 major-championship appearances, Kerr arrived at Pine Needles in 2007 without a major title on her resume. Battling inclement weather and a challenging course, Kerr played 6-under-par golf over the final 36 holes to win her first major and solidify her position among the game’s greats.

Kerr followed Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb as U.S. Women’s Open champions at Pine Needles, which will host its record fourth U.S. Women’s Open in 2022.

The 76th U.S. Women’s Open will be the 11th USGA championship to be played on the Lake Course at The Olympic Club, including five U.S. Opens (1955, 1966, 1987, 1998 and 2012). The club also previously hosted the 1958, 1981 and 2007 U.S. Amateurs, the 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur and the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in 2015. It will also host the 2025 U.S. Amateur Championship.

The Lake Course was designed by course superintendent Sam Whiting and first opened for play in 1924. Improvements and updates were made by Robert Trent Jones Sr. before the 1955 U.S. Open and by Bill Love ahead of the 2007 U.S. Amateur and 2012 U.S. Open. The Olympic Club is recognized as one of the first 100 golf clubs established in the United States.

Considered the world’s premier women’s golf championship, the U.S. Women’s Open is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA.

The championship began in 1946 and its winners include Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Betsy Rawls, Mickey Wright, Hollis Stacy, Amy Alcott, Meg Mallon, Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak, Juli Inkster, Paula Creamer, Inbee Park and Michelle Wie West.

In December 2020, A Lim Kim birdied the final three holes at Champions Golf Club to capture the championship’s 75th edition, defeating Jin Young Ko and Amy Olson by one stroke.