Sarah Kemp – photo Getty Images Sean Haffley

Australian, Sarah Kemp, has made a fine start to the Lotte Championship at the Hoakalei Country Club on Oahu in Hawaii, the 36 year old adding a second round of 69 to her opening 68 to be in second place as the event heads into the final 36 holes.

Kemp is at 7 under par and three shots behind the leader and four time LPGA Tour event winner, Hyo Joo Kim.

Kemp has played the LPGA Tour in fits and starts since 2008, often struggling to retain status but 2021 was one of her better seasons and although 2022 has been a tough start to date, this is an encouraging effort ahead of a return to play an event in Australia next week.

Her early 2022 season was hampered by issues surrounding Covid, making her unable to play the WAPGA Championship staged in conjunction with the Australian PGA Championship in Brisbane in January and others in Australia and she was unable to get her season underway until early February.

Her results to date in 2022 have been well below her best but this week she has found something, three hole-outs aiding her cause but clearly it has been more than that which sees her contending heading into the weekend.

“Yeah, really solid,” said Kemp. “Lots of fairways, greens. I had a chip-in. Rolled it really well. It was just steady. I hit one fairway bunker short, but, yeah, just overall really steady. I haven’t played that good all year, so it’s nice to finally get the year started.

“You know, same kind of stuff. Like I’ve been terrible at being patient I felt like. I missed the cut by one at ANA and I sort of trended slowly, very slowly in the right direction.

“But it’s been super frustrating, and it’s just nice that, yeah, I guess I remained patient and just kept doing the same thing.

I haven’t started off the year very well at all. I have slowly gotten a little bit better, but I still missed the ANA cut by one and San Diego by a few more.

“But I gradually got a little better each time. That was in the back of my mind. But, yeah, you know, overall, my life’s pretty good off the golf course, so that’s the main thing, so I’m happy with that.

“But, it was hard the first couple months. Wasn’t the start that I wanted to. I got COVID in January and I missed the first event; didn’t get to play a tournament in Australia.

Kemps’ two best performances on the LPGA Tour came in 2021 when finishing 4th and 5th in two events and while yet to win a career event on either the LPGA or LET Tours, it appears the New South Wales golfer is getting better with age.

Hannah Green and rookie Stephanie Kyriacou are the next best of the Australasians although Green will be ruing three dropped shots late in her round after being inside the top 5 beforehand. Green and Kyriacou are 19th at 2 under par.

Defending champion Lydia Ko is at even par and Su Oh at 3 over.

Queenslander, Karis Davidson, making her debut on the LPGA Tour, has missed the cut after rounds of 76 and 74 while Sarah Jane Smith was even further back.