Katherine Kirk – file photo Bruce Young

Australian Katherine Kirk’s year in 2021 has been a struggle to date but, just as her fellow countrywoman, Su Oh, did last week in Portland she might well have turned a corner with an opening round of 8 under par 63 in the opening round of this week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in Rogers.

Oh turned a round a very ordinary season with her runner-up finish last week and it appears Kirk could also make 2021 a whole lot better this week.

“It was fun,” said the 39 year old. “I got off to a good start and this is the kind of golf course where you just have to keep the pedal down and I was able to do that, rattling off four birdies on each side so am really happy with the round. This course is more of a sprint than a marathon so I am super happy.

“Lots of good stuff happened last week,” added Kirk referring not only to a hole in one she recorded in Portland but an improved showing. “I needed a little bit of a confidence boost as this year has been a bit of a grind.

“I have been striking the ball well but have not been scoring that well so it has been frustrating but as a veteran I know I have to remain patient and keep doing the right things and eventually it will turn the corner.”

Kirk finished 7th in this event last year so has nice memories of the Pinnacle Country Club. “I love this golf course so have good memories and good vibes so it was a matter of going out there and I had a great pairing so that was nice too.”

Kirk shares the lead with South Koreans Eun Hee Ji and A Lim Kim the trio one ahead of American Sarah Burnham.

Minjee Lee is the next best of the Australasians in 16th position after her round of 67, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko was round in 68 to be tied for 29th, Sarah Kemp is 39th after her round of 2 under 69 and Sarah Jane Smith a 1 under 69.