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Sarah Kemp faces important week in Auckland

(Photo: Henry Peters )
Sydney golfer Sarah Kemp finds herself at a crossroads in her professional career as this week’s McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open is played at Windross Farm on the southern outskirts of Auckland.

“I am honestly trying not to think about it too much this week as a lot of different scenarios I can play out,” said Kemp ahead of the new LPGA event.

“It’s been one of those years. But the main focus for me is just to play well this week and then make the decision on what I want to do and whether I want to go back (to Q School and the LPGA) or play the LET or play the Symetra Tour - I am just not sure at this stage.”

After nearly ten seasons on the LPGA Tour Kemp will need something extraordinary this week if she is to regain her LPGA Tour status for 2018 after a 2017 season in which has tested her game and even, at times, her desire to continue competing in the female game’s toughest arena.

Not that such a choice will necessarily be hers as if she is unable to find a way to finish inside the top three or four this week then the chance to play the LPGA Tour in 2018 will be taken from her.

That is of course unless she can regain her status through the LPGA Tour School in early December but, clearly, she would enjoy being able to do so before the grind and stress of the Tour School  

“It has been a real mental struggle - I didn’t really start the year well although I haven’t played all that badly, especially tee to green.

“I had a poor year in 2016 and decided not to go back to Tour School which, in hindsight, perhaps I should have but instead played the early season events and because of a reasonable week at the Australian Open I did ok in the re-rank and managed to play a reasonable amount of events but kept missing cuts.  

“I look at those around me and feel I can compete but it is just that one up and down or one birdie putt that didn’t go in and there is my 1 or 2 over and on the LPGA Tour you can’t afford to shoot over par as the cuts every week are generally under par.

“So, it has been tough to keep going in the hope that something will turn around and keep pushing through it and ten events later I still haven’t made a cut.”

Kemp, one of Australia’s best amateurs ahead of her professional career, is into her 10th season on the LPGA Tour so to have maintained her status for so long has been an achievement in itself.

Kemp did show signs of her capabilities when winning a 36 hole ALPG Tour event in Auckland over the weekend producing a stunning start to that event when recording an opening round of 64 to lead by seven after round one and eventually win by four over New Zealander Hanna Song who these days plays the Korean LPGA Tour.

But the fine line between pleasure and pain in terms of LPGA Tour success was on display despite Kemp’s great opening round last Thursday.

“I was telling John (coach John Serhan) I honestly didn’t hit the ball any different but I got it up and down here and there. It is such a game of patience and such a fine line that I don’t feel I have played any different.

“It would be easier to accept this year if I was hitting it all over the planet and I was able to tell myself that I deserved that one or two over but that has not been the case and my mindset has been that it is so close and now the 1 and 2 overs are turning into something better.

Her coach John Serhan, from St Michaels Golf Club on Sydney’s southern coastline, is with her this week and she is playing a golf course that might well fit her eye and suit her game.

Windross Farm is not a long golf course and despite the constant rain in Auckland for much of the winter the fairways and greens are firm. It is not a ‘bombers’ golf course but one where strategy and placement will likely win out.

If the worst case happens then a return to the Ladies European Tour might be on the cards for the likeable 31 year old and, while not the place she would like to be playing, she is aware of the suitability of Europe to her game.

“I have had a better record there and that the courses are a bit shorter probably suits me but it would be nice to get back to the States.”

With the win last week, albeit it in a much lesser event, the subsequent boost in confidence, the presence of her coach Serhan and a golf course which might just work in her favour, Kemp has the ingredients necessary for that big week she is looking for.

“The course is nice and wide open and the second shots are important although dependant on the weather the scoring should be quite low.”

If she does not, then there are options still open to Sarah Kemp but she is determined to put first things first and handle what is in front of her this week and try not to think about what lies beyond.










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