Katherine Kirk – brilliant start at a golf course on which she feels comfort.
One of the more interesting aspects of the performances of Australians in the opening round of respective events on the PGA and LPGA Tours this morning was the encouraging turnaround in form of both Katherine Kirk and Steve Bowditch.
Kirk was playing a venue which no doubt has great memories for her having won her third LPGA Tour title at the Thornberry Creek at Oneida course in Oneida in Wisconsin but her lead-up form prior to arriving in Oneida was hardly convincing having missed five of her last six cuts and finished 61st in the other.
Kirk, though, was upbeat about the week despite her confidence sapping run of late but despite a horror round in her last event last week she was still relatively positive when she spoke yesterday before today’s opening round.
“Yeah, I’ve had a few swing issues this year that I was obviously not happy with,” she said in her Wednesday media conference. “I think I’ve got a little bit of that ironed out. I love this golf course, so hopefully this will be another turning point for me.”
It certainly was a turning point as she raced to the turn in 29 today and when she reached 8 under for the day through 12 holes, thoughts of joining Annika Sorenstam as a ’59’ shooter on the LPGA Tour became a distinct possibility.
The momentum did slow but she was still able to add two more birdies for a round of 10 under 62 to lead by one over Sei Young Kim.
It’s kind of interesting,” added Kirk. “I think I told you guys yesterday I had no expectations to win. Obviously, there are good vibes here and I have a lot of confidence on this golf course. Just suits my eye.
“It’s a marathon; it’s not a sprint. It’s going to take another three really good rounds to be in contention on Sunday.”
When asked why the layout suits her eye Kirk explained. “Partly because it’s generous off the tee. I’ve never been a very straight driver of the golf ball. I don’t know. Just reminds me of some courses back in Kansas.
“Obviously, I’ve got some good shots in mind from last year. Yeah, it’s a pretty golf course. There are lots of easy targets to pick; greens are perfect. So, yeah, it’s a fun golf course to play.”
Given that her previous round last week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was a horror 83, to have a 21 shots swing between rounds must be some sort of record and she was finding it hard to explain.
“Well, I mean, there’s kind of a human element in there, right? Golf is funny. When you’ve played it as long as I have professionally you realize, Hey, some days will be good and some will be bad.
“I did get really frustrated on Saturday (last) on the range when I was trying to work on a new swing thought. Not a new one, but an exaggeration I should say. I felt really good at the end of Saturday and told myself, Hey, listen, you’ve played well up in Green Bay. You know how to score around there. Just go do it. Like it’s not the rocket science.
“So, yeah, just mentally always have to say, Hey, it’s a new day. Let’s go get it. Yeah, I played horribly on Friday, but that’s Friday. It’s gone. I can learn from it and just put it behind me.”
Whether Kirk can continue on with her amazing start remains to be seen but a return to the scene of triumph or good memories or a golf course that fits the eye is an amazing tonic for a wayward game and to some extent the same could be said for Steven Bowditch.
Bowditch has been at an all time low with his game over the past two years missing 34 of his last 36 starts and in fact we need to go back to January of 2016 to find the last time he recorded a top ten, that coming at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Fast forward or, in the case of Bowditch, slow forward all those months and starts to this year’s AT&T Byron Nelson where a second round of 68 threw out signals that perhaps improvement was on the way despite again missing the cut
Bowditch won the AT&T Byron Nelson in 2015 admittedly on another golf course but again a return to an event or a course where success had been achieved previously appeared to provide a boost provided a boost.
Then to this week’s event at White Sulphur Springs TPC, a layout over which Bowditch had finished runner-up in 2013.
His round of even par 70 was hardly earthshattering but it is fair to say that it is one that offers further encouragement for the 35 year old from Queensland and even though he will need a round of perhaps 2 under or better tomorrow just to make the weekend things are definitely looking rosier for the immensely talented Bowditch.