33 year old Kirk (she turns 34 on Friday) is a former winner of the RACV Ladies Masters and has been twice runner-up so it is an event and a venue that has meant a great deal to her especially given that so much of her life was spent in Queensland.
Kirk played her first event in nearly six months last week at the Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide, her status on the LPGA Tour in August of last year not allowing her access to the end of season events.
“My year finished in August,” said Kirk in yesterday’s pre-tournament press conference. “I was 108th on the money list (LPGA) and the top 60 or 70 only get into events late in the year. I thought about going back to Q school but I was just too frustrated through September. I put golf on the backburner and decided to come back with a fresh approach”.
Given the circumstances Kirk played well enough last week, especially early, but perhaps the lack of tournament readiness counted against her over the final two rounds and she finished well back.
“The first two rounds were pretty good but I struggled with my timing on the weekend and shot 76-77”.
Despite her frustrating 2015 season, Kirk is keen to get things moving forward again. “Earlier in the year I missed a lot of cuts by one or two shots. My game wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t great either. I am still hungry and that’s the biggest thing”.
Kirk has been arguably Australia’s second best female golfer over the last twenty years or so and perhaps behind only Karrie Webb, Jan Stephenson and Jane Crafter in the history of Australian women’s professional golf. She won twice on the LPGA Tour, twice on the Symetra Tour in the US, the NCAA Championship title during her collegiate career at Pepperdine in California and was a member of Australia’s Espirito Santo winning team in 2003.
Kirk’s best performance in a major championship was when runner-up to Yani Tseng at the Women’s British Open in 2010.
Kirk was complimentary about the initial changes made to the RACV Royal Pines layout when they were first exposed to this event last year and now that all 18 holes of the championship layout have been completed she likes what she sees.
“The course is absolutely awesome. It’s a totally different golf course to what we’ve played before. What they have done with the greens are incredible”.
Given her lack of tournament play of late, It might still be a bit early for Kirk to be competitive this week but her record in the game and her record at Royal Pines suggests she will have her share of followers.
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