A First Time for Everything

I’m driving back from Toledo today and know I need to give everyone an update on these last couple of weeks. I’ve only played two events since my last post, but I feel like I have been on the road for a month. Going to Europe and back for one event was pretty grueling. Not to mention when you miss your flight out of England. That’s a story for another day, though.

So I played in my first British Open, which was also my first major, last week at Royal Birkdale. The whole experience was pretty incredible. There were so many “firsts” that week. My first trip to Europe, first major, first time playing true links golf, a practice round with world #1 Stacey Lewis, and walking inside the ropes with Sunday’s final group of Inbee Park and Suzanne Petterson. I finished at +10 and missed the cut by four shots. It wasn’t stellar play, but there were a lot of positives that I took away from the week. My sand play and overall short game was very good, I just needed to find the fairway more. Even for a straight ball striker it’s a difficult task when each fairway is about 4 yards wide.

The tournament was held in Southport, but I actually stayed in Liverpool, home of the Rolling Stones. Just kidding, home of the Beatles!! I obviously had a couple days on the weekend to do some sightseeing and took full advantage. There was a train station pretty close to my hotel so I took the train into central Liverpool. I checked out the Beatles History Museum, Liverpool Museum, Liverpool One shopping center (of course) and the Cavern Club. The Cavern Club was by far the coolest place I went. This is the club where the Beatles started. It’s a small, underground room maybe ten yards wide and very long with the stage at the front. I went in there at around noon on Saturday, but you couldn’t tell if it was noon or midnight. I think it was about 110 degrees down there, and the band had been performing long before I arrived. Such a cool place with an awesome vibe. I posted a good picture below.

I could talk a lot about my trip to England, but I also played in Toledo and just finished up yesterday. There were a lot of positives in Toledo as well. I made the cut (I know, its been awhile), had a great bogey free Saturday 67, and felt really good about my putting. On the not so positive side, I didn’t have the greatest day on Sunday and thus finished T-42. I felt I was in a position on Saturday to finish much higher, but it is what it is. With the T-42 finish I made a pretty small check and once again fell a couple spots on the money list. My big goal is to play in Asia at the end of the year, which is achieved by staying in the top 60 (roughly) on the money list. I’m currently 72. As hard as it is, my goal for the next 4 events in August is to not think about the money list at all, but to only focus on the shot in front of me. So much harder than it sounds!! My type-A personality gets in the way, but I will try my hardest. ☺

I have a couple weeks off at home now. I will as usual spend time in Clark, Sioux Falls, and Sutton Bay. I am also helping out at the Watertown Fireman’s charity event this weekend and playing in the Boys of Summer Cup next weekend in Sioux Falls. They are both fun events that I am really looking forward to.

Enjoy all the photos and thank you to everyone for your continued support and for following my career. :)

KK

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Hole #7 Par 3

 

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Central Liverpool

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Three buildings in central Liverpool known as the “Three Graces”

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I spent a little time down at the beach by my hotel.

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The crowd outside the Cavern Club.  I think Beatlemania is still alive.

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Inside the Cavern Club

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My dad and I at the Marathon Classic in Toledo.

 

 

British Bound!

I know it has been awhile since my last post, but I didn’t forget about you. I’ve just been enjoying my three weeks off and it isn’t very exciting to write a blog about my standing on the practice green hitting 3 foot putts. While I wasn’t traveling to any events to play, I still found myself spending plenty of time in the air and on the road. Before coming home I spent a week in Lubbock for my best friend’s wedding; a much needed and refreshing break from tour life. When I finally made it back to the homeland I split time between Clark, Sioux Falls, and Sutton Bay. I struggle with staying in one place for too long.

 

Last Sunday my mom and I hit the road for Arkansas and the Northwest Arkansas Championship. I felt like I was headed out to a Symetra event; it’s been awhile since I’ve road tripped it to an event. The event is held in Rogers, AK and is sponsored by Walmart because Walmart actually started in Rogers. Before Walmart (pre-1970’s) Rogers had about 7,000 people in it, it now consists of several towns that run together to make up “Northwest Arkansas” and has a population of around 500,000. While we can all have our own opinions about Walmart and whether or not we like or dislike the massive store, I can say that they definitely know how to put on a first class event. The highlight of the event took place Saturday night when we all got two tickets to a Dierks Bentley concert held at their own Walmart Amphitheatre.   An outdoor concert completely free to probably 5 or 6 thousand people – pretty cool. Also, they had the 17 hole surrounded in box seating and the goal was to make it the “Loudest Hole on Tour.” I think they did a pretty good job! We were encouraged to bring things to throw up in to the stands like towels or hats. On the last day I thought about throwing my clubs up there.

 

If you were following along you probably noticed I had a pretty colorful scorecard the first day that ended up in an even 71. Not bad, not great. Tough to finish 2 over in the final three holes, but I was still on the right side of the cut line. However, I went out in the morning Saturday and it was less than spectacular. A couple of early bogeys and I just couldn’t get it turned around and find any momentum. It is always very hard when you feel all aspects of your game are good, but you just can’t score. It is frustrating to add another MC to the list, but I leave for the British Open on Saturday and am trying to focus all my energy on what I need to do to prepare for that.

 

Finally, I have had a lot of questions about my caddie and whether or not I have hired someone. First off, to clear things up on how the whole caddie/player thing works, I am completely responsible for hiring my own caddie. I can bring a friend from home, a parent, grab a new local caddie every week, or hire a professional full time caddie. The only requirement is that I must have a caddie for all days (including practice rounds) of an event. I can fire a caddie at any point during a tournament or season, and he or she can also quit at anytime they want, too. The LPGA tour has absolutely nothing to do with setting up players and caddies. Caddies and players are essentially all their own businesses; players looking to hire a caddie, and caddies looking for employment.

 

After Dallas, I decided that if I was to stay out here for the rest of the year I needed to do it right and hire a professional caddie. With that being said, I am putting an emphasis on “professional.” There is absolutely nothing more frustrating than when someone comes up to me and thinks that caddying is something that anyone can just pick up and do. Let me put it this way, some people are bankers, some people are hairstylists, and some people are tour caddies. It is a profession like anything else that requires a lot of time, knowledge, and experience. I do not care how good of a golfer you think you are or how much you think you know about the game, you probably don’t have the slightest idea of how or what it takes to be a caddie on tour. If you don’t believe me, take a look at a tour caddies yardage book and try to decipher it, then let me know what you think. Ok, my caddie rant is over, but I hope you have picked up on the point. With that being said, I have hired Worth Blackwelder and he has been on my bag since Kingsmill. He has been caddying on the LPGA for over 25 years, most notably for Julie Inkster and Christie Kerr. If I were to rate his experience on a scale of 1-10, he would get a 100. As a rookie there is probably nothing more valuable than a caddie that has been to a course a thousand times since I may only get to see the course once. I feel very lucky to have such a respected veteran caddie on the bag. Not only is he great on the course, but he also knows everyone out on tour and has been able to introduce me to a lot of good people. I am really looking forward to the rest of this year and I know we are going to have some great success together.

 

I think that is all for this week. I took a lot of photos this week so check those out below. As I said earlier, I leave Saturday for the British Open in England, which will be played in Southport at Royal Birkdale. This will obviously be my first major event and my first trip to Europe. I will be traveling solo on this trip, but will fly directly into Toledo, Ohio upon returning to play in the Marathon Classic and my father will be there for that one.  

 

Happy 4th of July!

KK

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Me and the bride, Kelsy Hope! :)

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A very fun night out at Tre Lounge in Sioux Falls  (Thank you, Randy!)

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College World Series on Father’s Day with my dad and some family from Omaha.  Fun watching Tech play in their first every CWS!

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Me and dad cheering on Tech…

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Annual Sutton Bay trip with John Clausen, Rick Chapin, and Dave Moritz. I left three dollars ahead ;) 

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My new friend, Nile.  Best pro-am caddie ever! 

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My high school golf coach and his wife came to watch.  How awesome is that! Thanks, John and Robin. :) 

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My mom and I at Dierks Bentley, the real reason she drove 9 hours with me.  

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Great show, fun atmosphere! Thank you, Walmart and P&G, for such a cool event.  

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My pro-am group for the day.  Great group of guys! 

Successful Seven.

Good morning from Philadelphia!  After seven weeks of playing (thats every week since Hawaii if you lost count) I am finally waiting to depart for Lubbock.  My best friend from Tech is getting married on Saturday and I couldn’t be more excited to take a week off and spend it in Lubbock with some really great people.  That also means I only have 5 days to fix these tan lines. Miracles do happen.  

I finished up the ShopRite in Atlantic City yesterday and overall it was a productive week.  I finished -4 and in a tie for 23.  I did some great things to save par, but couldn’t seem to get the birdies going on Sunday.  I’m not sure what it says about my game when I have more eagles than birdies in a round.  However, after two straight missed cuts, it is always good to be playing on Sunday and cashing a check.  It is easy to sit at home and watch girls (and guys) miss cut after cut and wonder what they are doing.  I used to do it myself.  But after being out here a few weeks and missing a few cuts of my own, I can see how easy it is to get on that train and not know how to get off.  Therefore, I am happy and grateful that I was able to forget those weeks and start fresh in Atlantic City.  That is often easier said than done.  

My putting had been giving me problems the past several weeks, so I decided that I would ask the Callaway rep to look at my putting and maybe suggest a new putter.  After a few minutes on the green I had the Odyssey Two-ball Versa in my hand and I knew that it was going to make a difference.  Being a rookie out here, I’m still not used to trying out a putter and being able to just take it.  It felt like Christmas. :) I still have some work to do, but I feel it is headed in the right direction.

Last week in Mobile my mom and sister came to watch me play for the first time on the LPGA. They flew down and then drove my car back home; the travel logistics out here can be so difficult sometimes.  I saved my absolute worst golf of the year just for them, but it left some time for us to do a few fun things on the weekend.  We visited the USS Alabama and of course put in some quality time at the mall. 

This week we played at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club. It is right across from the Jersey shore and Atlantic City.  I have been to New Jersey a couple of times but never here.  I have to say it may be my favorite stop on the tour so far.  If you are ever in the area I would highly suggest coming out here and playing the course.  It’s an old Donald Ross course from the early 1900′s.  It is the type of course that has so much character that no matter what it is just fun to play.  I am really looking forward to coming back here next year.  The people were great and it is the best crowds I’ve seen so far as well.  Well done, ShopRite.  

This week the tour is playing in Canada, but I will obviously be skipping the event.  I did not make it to the US Open, so my next event will be the last week of June in Arkansas.  I’m looking forward to going home after this week in Texas and splitting time between Clark and Sioux Falls.  I’m also planning a trip up to Sutton Bay for a few days.  

As always, thank you for the support and following my career.  Seven weeks ago I wasn’t even thinking about the LPGA, and here I am now on the tour full time.  I would say it was a successful seven week stretch.  

KK

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Mom, Ashley, and me in Mobile. 

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USS Alabama

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Nice photo from the 18th at ShopRite.  Not sure who the photo credit goes to, but its a great pic!

 

It’s a journey….

Just over two weeks ago I wrote a blog summarizing what was probably my best week on the course to date.  Two weeks later, instead of catching a plane back to Orlando I have finally arrived at a hotel in Mobile where I’ll spend the night after missing my first ever professional cut.  I drove here from Williamsburg, VA but made a nice pit stop in Raleigh, NC yesterday to watch the Texas Tech men’s golf team play their final round of the NCAA Regional tournament.  I couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend my weekend after missing a cut than watching some good friends try and make it to the National Championship.  Although they came up a few shots short of overtaking Florida State, they fought hard all the way until the end.  I wish them all the best and know without a doubt they will be back in contention again next year.  Once a Red Raider, always a Red Raider.

Thinking about my own play the last two weeks it has been less than ideal. Sometimes the hardest week to play is the week right after a successful tournament.  The Symetra event in Greenwood was definitely a “down” week.  In hindsight, it may have been a good week to take off, but when you’re playing well I figured it doesn’t hurt to just keep playing.  I had a really great host family and found that I absolutely love South Carolina.  When you can take a relaxing pontoon trip down the river for dinner, I’m sold.  I haven’t spent a ton of time in the Carolinas, but every time I go I like it more and more.  It was what I hope to be my final Symetra event and the tour staff and players were all very kind in bidding me farewell.

This past week at Kingsmill I experienced my first ever missed cut.  I fought it out until the end, but came up two shots short.  This may be my first missed cut, but it definitely won’t be my last. I hit the ball super well, just couldn’t make a two footer.  Literally.  I actually four putted from 6 feet on Friday.  Just like I can’t control the leader board when I’m trying to win a tournament, I can’t control it when I am trying to just make a cut.  I played the best I could last week and it wasn’t quite good enough to play on the weekend.  Instead I got to go see the men’s team play and took my time on the 14 hour drive to Mobile, AL.  What I’m really trying to get at here is that its not the end of the world.  I spent Friday night enjoying a delicious meal with my host family in Williamsburg; I wasn’t on suicide watch.  I am playing golf to try and win tournaments and earn a living, but I’m also just enjoying life as well.  No round or tournament is life or death, a career is defined over years and years of play, not just one round.  I hope that thru this blog and me always sharing my thoughts that everyone can understand this mentality that I would argue most players have.  Playing on any tour is truly a journey and not a destination.

With that being said, hooray for a new week!  We are playing on the gulf coast in Mobile, AL this week on the Robert Trent Jones golf trail.  I am most looking forward to having my mom and sister in town for the week.  They will hopefully bring me a little luck and do my laundry. :)

Here’s to a new week!

KK

 

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My biggest fan in Greenwood!  Granddaughter, Jaeda, of my hosts David and Carol. :)

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The 18th at Kingsmill. Absolutely beautiful.

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Great shot of me on Thursday. (Thanks Vickie Cox for the photos!)

 

 

The Big Week

Good morning from South Carolina everyone. Hard to believe that only three days ago I was in Dallas, and have since flown back to Orlando and driven to South Carolina.  If the amount of texts, emails, and phone calls is any indication, I think ya’ll already know that my week at the North Texas LPGA Shootout was a big week for me.  After having a few days to look back and think about it, there are three things that stand out that I would like to share.

1.  I love playing in Texas.  Being a Texas Tech alum, there probably couldn’t have been a better stop on tour for me to have a successful week.  The Tech fans were excited to have one of their own in the field, and I was excited to have fellow alum cheering me on.  Playing in Texas will always be special to me.

2.  Last time I played on the LPGA was in Hawaii and I was pretty excited to have played with Lydia Ko for the final two rounds.  This week I stepped it up even more when I was paired with Suzann Petterson and Azahara Munoz on Saturday.  If you don’t follow the LPGA that closely, it was like being paired with Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald.  I could have easily let the fact that I was playing along side two high profile players distract me from my game.  However, I made a decision before I started that I was going to continue to play the golf course the way I had been regardless of who was playing beside me.  It probably helped that Suzann talked to me from the very first tee.  She really didn’t have to have any interest in me at all, but she did and it was extremely nice of her.  She is what the LPGA is all about; very classy.  Likewise, after signing my card on Sunday, I exited the scoring tent and Christina Kim greeted me with a handshake and a “Welcome to the LPGA.”  Pretty cool.  The LPGA has a motto of “See Why It’s Different Out Here,” and THAT is why it is different.

3.  I stuck to my game. I made some mistakes and gave away some shots, but I grinded it out through the ups and downs.  I was in a good place mentally where I didn’t try and play the leader board, but instead just played the golf course.  At the end of the week it was great for me to see that when I just play my game it is good enough to finish in the top 5.  

Going forward from here, I will play this week in South Carolina as I noted earlier, but will then play LPGA from here on out.  All the talk about Symetra Tour money lists and LPGA conditional status can be thrown out the window.  Now, I will play for my LPGA card just like all the other girls on the LPGA play for theirs, by remaining in the top 80.  Everything changed so quickly, which also means i will be looking for a full time caddie as well. The player/caddie relationship can be difficult, so finding a caddie that meshes with my game and personality and can be with me for the long term is the ultimate goal.  Right now my agent is finding me the best caddie he can and we will likely do a three week trial over the next three events.  

So, I will leave South Carolina after this week and head to Virginia to play the Kingsmill Championship.  I know this is one of the favorite stops on the LPGA tour so I am really looking forward to it.  After Virginia I will drive to Mobile, Alabama where my mom and sister will join me for the week for that event.  They will drive my car home from Alabama (some good bonding time for them) and I will fly to Los Angeles that Monday for the U.S. Women’s Open qualifier.  I will hopefully get in a quick practice round that afternoon and then play the 36 hole qualifier on Tuesday.  Lucky for me there is a red eye out of LAX on Tuesday night that will get me to Philidelphia by 6 am for the Shoprite in Atlantic City that starts on Friday.  After playing the Shoprite Friday-Sunday, I will fly to Lubbock, TX for my best friends wedding.  After playing 7 weeks  in a row it will be an off-week well spent.  I’m exhausted just writing about my traveling plans.  

Ok, time for me to get some practice in for this weeks event! This is the biggest event on the Symetra schedule with a purse twice the average.  It is a four day event starting tomorrow!   

Thank you to everyone for all the kind messages, emails, and phone calls.  I was busy traveling from Dallas to South Carolina but did my best to respond to everyone!  Thanks so much! 

KK

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Texas Tech alum Pat Green performed for us at Las Colinas on Friday night.  Great show!! 

 

 

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A rare selfie of me and my traveling partner, Megan McChrystal, having some fun at the show.  

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Former Texas Tech teammate and great friend Rosalyn Rojmar came to watch for the weekend.  So fun to have friends there!

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Me and Sherri Turner, LPGA Legend who joined us for the pro-am yesterday in South Carolina. Very fun!  

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Me and Natalie Sheary having some fun with the photographer yesterday ;) 

 

 

Hawaii

Hi, everyone! I’ve made it back from Hawaii on the red-eye Saturday night and am now in Sarasota for a Symetra event.  These last two weeks have flown by but I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my LPGA career in Hawaii.  After battling the winds for 7 straight days I finished T42.  I’m not sure if that wind was typical for Hawaii, but if it is we can just move the LOTTE to Lubbock next year and host it at the Rawls course. Overall, I was happy with my play the first two days and knew I had things I could improve on from the last two days.  I was fortunate to be paired with Lydia Ko the last two days which was probably the best part of the experience for me. I played with her and realized that I could play with one of the best in the world.  It was great to see thats she made mistakes and bogeys just as I did.  Her demeanor on the course is so great and something every aspiring player could learn from.

This was my first trip to Hawaii and unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of the fun sites because I was pretty sick the first half of the week.  The traveling, jet lag, and practice finally caught up to me and by Tuesday I was stuck at the condo while everyone else was swimming with sea turtles.  Speaking of the condo, while the top players in the event enjoyed rooms at the resorts, us Symetra tour players gladly packed 5 players and a caddie into a two bedroom condo one exit down.  If you were willing to buy an air mattress and sleep on the floor, you were welcomed to stay.  For 23 dollars a night, we all thought we had the best deal of the week.  Although it wasn’t very glamorous, we had a very good time in the house last week.

The question I’ve been asked most frequently is the biggest difference between LPGA and Symetra.  While ignoring the fact that we were in Hawaii, it is honestly a lot of the material things that make the LPGA seem like such a different tour.  It’s the staff bags and caddies, tee signs surrounding all the tees, and ropes lining the fairways.  We get player dining every day for breakfast and lunch, and we have full use of the locker room where you can leave your clubs for the night and a locker which will be stacked with balls and gloves from whichever brand you are affiliated with.  On the playing side, the scores are much tighter.  There isn’t really a drop off as there sometimes can be in college and on the Symetra tour.  In other words, you aren’t going to get to have an “off” day and make the cut.

While it is a lot of fun to talk about playing well in Hawaii, I am now in Sarasota, FL for a Symetra event and that is where my focus will be.  Next week, however, I will head west to Dallas and play in the LPGA again.  Next week will be a big week for me because after Dallas the LPGA will reshuffle our priority numbers based on the money list.  If I can shuffle high enough my goal will be to start playing more on the LPGA than on the Symetra tour.  There are so many variables in deciding which path to take, so I’m trying to continue taking it one week at a time.  I am excited to go to Dallas though because I know that I will be able to find some Tech fans in Dallas! I will fly in Monday morning and leave Sunday night.  Tournament starts on Thursday and as always you can follow along on LPGA.com or catch some of the action on the Golf Channel.

Thank you to everyone who followed so closely last week.  I appreciate all the support and am excited about these next few weeks!

KK

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The North Shore, site of the filming of the Hunger Games!

 

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Hole 12, Ko Olina Golf Club

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The 18 at Ko Olina.  Beautiful finishing hole.

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USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

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Rays vs Twins last night in Tampa.  Some free tickets thanks to our Symetra media guy!

Aloha, LPGA.

Good morning, everyone!  I know I haven’t played a tournament since my last post, but there has been so much going on I thought I should take this opportunity to catch everyone up.  By opportunity, I am referring to my 3 hour layover at DFW.  However, I won’t be complaining about travel today because in about 14 hours I will be in Hawaii! I have finally gained entry into my first LPGA event of the season, the LOTTE Championship, and it just so happens to be in Oahu, Hawaii.  As I tried to explain in my “Category 17″ blog after Q-school finished this past December, I will gain entry into events when enough girls ranked ahead of me decide not to play.  Explaining “conditional status” has become about as easy as explaining how the stars align, so I’m not going to go there again, but nonetheless, I am in the field next week.  With the first major of the year finishing up last week, a lot of the top girls on the LPGA want some time off and especially don’t want to travel all the way to Hawaii for just one week.  This allows for many of the girls with only conditional status to play in the field.   

Prior to me finding out I would play in Hawaii, I had booked a flight home to Sioux Falls for a few days. As I noted in my last blog, my game has been testing my patience and wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be. I decided that if I didn’t go home during this break, I wouldn’t be home to see my family or my coach until June.  I flew home Sunday, took some really good weather with me, and was back in Orlando by Thursday afternoon.  I put in three good days of practice that included some minor swing changes and some fine tuning on my short game.  I think a lot of people assume that professionals never have any swing problems, but we in fact develop bad habits just like anyone else.  It is amazing how many times I can go to a lesson and find myself working on a problem that I thought I had fixed two months ago.  Besides some good time at the course, I was able to see a few friends and my family as well.  Taking a break and just hanging out with friends and family when I have the chance is something I want to focus on more this year; it creates the balance in my life that I think will help me be successful.  

Once I touched down in Orlando the “relaxing” was over and it was full speed ahead to get everything ready for Hawaii.  I played 18 holes Friday morning, then spent about three hours moving all my stuff from my apartment into storage for the summer, and finally finished packing for Hawaii by about 9:00 last night.  I was up at 3:00 am this morning to leave for the airport at 3:30.  While I am more than excited to be headed to Hawaii to play in the LPGA event this week, there is just a lot of work and planning that goes into getting a last minute trip planned like this (I booked my flight on Tuesday!), on top of moving out and finding enough time to continue to practice every day.  Thankfully I have a great agent that helps me out and takes my stress level from 10 to 1 pretty quickly. OK, maybe its not at 1, but somewhere around 3 maybe? :) 

Ok! Time to board my flight to Maui!  If you want to follow along this week the event starts on Wednesday with a Saturday finish.  This allows us to get back home Sunday night if we take a red-eye out of Hawaii Saturday night.  As always, all LPGA events are broadcast on the Golf Channel.  If I am playing well there is a good chance you might see me hit a shot or two, if I’m not playing well, don’t worry, I will be thinking of other ways to get on TV. 

 

Wish me luck!

KK