The Final Countdown

One of the only great things about jet lag is that you get a lot of things done.. at 6 am. My plan today was to throwback to my college days and write this blog while enjoying a frappuccino at Starbucks. However, when you’re wide awake at 5:30, writing in bed sounds better than getting dressed and actually leaving the house.

I’ve been back in Florida for less than 48 hours, but can tell you that I am SO happy to be back in the USA. Asia was an awesome experience and I love to travel, but only when you come back home do you realize how much you actually love being home. We live out of suitcases and eat so many of our meals in hotel restaurants that coming home to do your own laundry and buy your own groceries seems like a treat. I’m sure the joy I got out of doing my laundry yesterday will soon pass, but it really is nice to not have to leave all my clothes with some guy running a semi-shady laundromat in a strip mall in Korea and just praying that you communicated that you wanted it “washed and dried only.”

My last two weeks were pretty similar to my first two weeks in Asia. After my pit stop in Houston for a fabulous wedding celebration and a little relaxation in Lubbock, I left for Taipei, Taiwan. I believe that this was my favorite city we stayed in. Taipei is a major city in Taiwan and we stayed right in the heart of it. There were so many things to go out and do and I tried to do my fair share. I was able to get away and check out the night market (pictures below), enjoy the very popular Taiwan foot massage, and even enjoy a little wood-fire pizza joint that my caddie happened to come across and thus became a popular caddie and player spot for the week. I perhaps also enjoyed Taiwan because it was my best finish in Asia. I played four days of pretty solid golf and for the first time in Asia felt that I was actually playing and not just trying to survive.

After a hot week in Taiwan we packed up and headed to Japan for the final event in Asia, the Mizuno Classic.  This is an event co-sanctioned with the JLPGA and thus features 45 LPGA and 35 JLPGA players.  The event is hosted at the Prime Resort Kashikojima and is two hours from civilization.  After spending a week in the extremely lively city of Taipei, I opened my curtains Tuesday morning to see nothing but the bay and zero sign of activity.  The resort was closed down for the week, so us LPGA players and staff were the only ones there.  As if we hadn’t spent enough time together, we were definitely going to now.  There was somewhat of a town 1.5 miles away, which I walked to once to get some Japanese peanut butter, but other than that you had to try and occupy your time on the resort.  I was happy to find CNN was broadcast in English, but after three days of US election results, the countdown to coming home was getting real.

Although my finish in Japan was the lowest of all four Asia events, I actually didn’t feel I played my worst.  The course was pretty simply with big greens, and thus the scoring was just super low.  It’s tough to shoot under par and still lose ground on the field.  Regardless, I feel pretty good about where I’m at and am hoping that my scoring reflects that more at our final event next week.  The CME championship will officially wrap up the 2014 season and my rookie year.  Wow, how fast did that go?  Is it just me that feels like I played my first event in Hawaii last week? Although its been an incredible year that has far exceeded my expectation of spending another year living out of my car on the Symetra Tour, I still have one event to go and am very focused on playing well and ending the season on a high.

I thank everyone for continuing to follow me throughout the Asia swing, and especially those of you that couldn’t help sneak a peak at the live scoring when you woke up in the middle of the night.  Playing in Florida this week is good for all of us.  I can drive and your sleep schedule can go back to normal. :)

12 days until the end of the season.  Let the countdown begin!

KK

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I don’t want to forget my quick stop in Lubbock.  A trip to Fuzzy’s was a must with these ladies!  Wreck ‘em!

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After Lubbock I headed to Houston the Brittany’s wedding (middle) with Kelsy Hope (left).  Such a fun weekend with my favorite roomies!

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Taipei, Taiwan

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One of several night markets in the city. Extremely busy every night of the week.

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Night Market

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The welcome party was held at the Taipie guest house, where the President hosts his guests.  Very cool setting and the vice-president was even in attendance.

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Party entertainment- This guy is made out of play dough!

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Prime Resort Kashikojima #11.  Japan.

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Dori Carter and I at the Mizuno Classic pro-am party :)

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Wednesday afternoon boat ride to watch these women dive for oysters, a very ancient tradition that is still used today to harvest pearls.

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We were really more concerned about getting a good photo over a good pearl ;) (with Laura Diaz)

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Making a rice cake.  Another Japanese tradition.  Cool stuff!

 

Asian Invasion

Two weeks in Asia have come and gone pretty fast. I write this blog on a rainy morning in Lubbock, TX after a quick nine holes on the course. I would have to say that my first two weeks in Asia were not as successful as I would have liked, but as always I learned plenty of things from my travels and first experience in Asia.

I started my Asia journey in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the Sime Darby LPGA Classic. The trip took 30 some odd hours to complete and I think the jet lag wore off sometime on Thursday. I quite honestly enjoyed my time there for it was a very Westernized city. We stayed at a hotel connected to a huge mall with plenty of American shops and restaurants, so my fear of starvation was held off for at least one week. As expected, it was stifling hot and humid. There was so much haze from the heat and humidity that I literally didn’t see the sun in 7 days. Exhausting.

I was really looking forward to playing these events with no cut. It is four guaranteed days with no pressure of making the cut and if I’m going to be honest, a guaranteed paycheck. Unfortunately, I think I left my swing on the plane. It was four of the longest, most brutal days of golf I had experienced all year. Add poor ball striking with 90 degrees of heat and humidity and you get one very long week. I tried to stay positive by reminding myself how fortunate I was to be playing these limited field events and that I could be sitting at home instead. It sounds good, but hard to remember when you’re chunking 5 irons in the water.

While we spend most of our time at the hotel or golf course and don’t have much contact with people outside the tournament, the reality is that we are in a very foreign country with very different rules and standards. We had a very scary situation occur when four caddies were stopped and questioned by two police officers, one of which was prominently carrying a machine gun, as they walked to their hotel during the middle of the day. The police likely wanted to be paid off, but the caddies were smart and were insistent that they did not have much money. Secondly, on Wednesday night we came to find out that there had been a terrorist bomb at a karaoke bar about ten minutes from where we stayed. One person died and about a dozen were severely injured. I bring these situations up because when people watch on TV they just see another golf tournament, but for us its real life. We actually live in these places for a week and deal with these security issues. The LPGA brings it’s own security staff each week and does a great job at trying to warn us of what is going on in each country that we visit; but we are as susceptible to crime and terrorism as anybody else living there. It’s eye opening to say the least.

The tournament finished on Sunday and I finished near the bottom of the pack. Not ideal, but fortunately I had another week to improve. A majority of the field went to Korea so we were all on two different red eyes Sunday night. One of the things that is different about these Asia events is that the entire player and caddie body travel all together.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in Korea, but I played my practice round in pants and a jacket and I couldn’t be more happy to feel a little bit of fall weather. It is after all October and I just can’t help but feel that it should be fall! I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to living year round in warm climates. I could tell I was going to like this place.

As you could probably see by my scores and stats, Korea was a much better event for me. I had a solid opening round in some really windy conditions (playing 4 years in Lubbock really paid off), regressed to some more poor ball striking in the middle two rounds, and then found my groove in the final round making five birdies and finishing 2 under. It definitely wasn’t an all star performance, but it was a step up from Malaysia and heading in the right direction.

I left Korea Monday morning and flew 13 hours direct to Houston. I got to Lubbock late afternoon and will spend three days here before flying back down to Houston for a friend’s wedding. It is a lot of time and travel to come back to the states during the Asia swing, but it is just part of life on tour. If we become so consumed with our life on tour and stop living life outside the tour, then what is the point in playing in the first place? While I do give up many things to go to events, there are just certain times where other things must come first. It’s a balance that I think we are always striving to find.

After my week here in Texas I will leave Sunday morning and fly back to Taiwan. I will play Taiwan and Japan and then come back to Florida for good. I did not get into Mexico this year, but will very likely play the CME Tour Championship in Naples in the middle of November. Three events to go! Time to finish the year out strong.

KK

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#2 at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club

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View of Kuala Lumpur from my hotel

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One of the few remaining palaces in Seoul, Korea.. with Rosa and Julieta Granada.

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Buddha Temple in Seoul.

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Praying to Buddha.

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The “King’s Chair”

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Our lunch in Seoul… I didn’t eat much.

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Team dinner at Fuzzy’s in Lubbock.  Miss these girls!

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The newest member of the Texas Tech Women’s golf team named Cash.  :)

Sweet Alabama

Good evening from Florida. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog from my own living room and I have to say its quite nice. Even if I’m only here for a week. Since my last blog I have been to several states and several countries. Time to get you caught up!

I went to France for the Evian Masters and had quite a good experience despite missing the cut. I know thats probably an expression I overuse, but to be honest, if I get to a point where I no longer can find something positive to take out of every week then I should probably do something different. One of my tour friends recently stated that she wasn’t enjoying playing as much as she should be, so she took a job as a writer. I commend her for that. Anyways, it was a good week. The course in France is quite difficult to describe; lets just say it is a bit quirky, for lack of a better term. Regardless of whether or not it is fair that a player can hit a perfect tee shot into the middle of the green on a par three and it can spin back into the water, we are all playing the same course. With that being said, 5 over on Thursday didn’t set up well for my goal of making my first cut in a major. Luckily, I was first off on Friday which means greens would be perfect and pace of play would be excellent. At the end of the day I shot 1 over and missed the cut by a shot. I know many people following my score looked at my bogey on the last hole and believed that is what caused me to miss the cut. My bogey on my 36th hole did not push me over the line, my +5 on Thursday did. What I learned this week (which I’ve learned many times out here) is that even if you are 4, 5, or 6, over on the first day, you have to continue to fight for every shot. I ended up way closer to making the cut than I ever thought I would after Thursday. I was actually doing some laundry at the laundromat when I had a glimmer of hope that the cut could even go to 6. It obviously didn’t, but I did successfully wash and dry my clothes using machines with French instructions so I felt things were headed in the right direction anyways.

After missing the cut I had two days in France and not much to do. I can only watch the two English speaking news channels so many times in one day. I luckily have a caddie that’s been to France many times so he knew that the place to go on an off day was across Lake Geneva to Lausanne, Switzerland. So, thats what we did. We took the ferry across, took a bus into downtown, ate a strange pizza (if you think chopped up carrots sound good on a pizza, it’s not) checked out the Olympic museum, and then took the ferry back across. It was a nice break from where we had been staying in Evian, and I can check Switzerland off my list. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the town that we played/stayed at in France. All tour players and caddies stay within a few blocks and we all hang out on the same two or three streets full of shops, restaurants, and bars. I’m looking forward to going back next year. Mainly for the croissants, but the tournament was pretty good, too. :)

I flew back on Monday, and unlike my departure from England, I successfully made my flight from France back to the U.S. I got in late Monday night and went out Tuesday afternoon for a practice round. I don’t know if I have ever played a hotter practice round in my life. It was the middle of September, its suppose to be fall, Alabama! We definitely weren’t prepared for such a hot week, but in the end I was super excited to notch my third top ten of the year. It started clicking in the final round and I shot a career best 7 under. It’s like what I was talking about earlier, you have to fight for every shot because you never know when you’re going to get hot.

After playing the final full-field domestic event in Alabama, I was fortunate to be asked to play in the Safe Harbor Charity Classic in Seneca, SC. This was a charity event hosted by Austin Ernst at her home club. She brought in 8 girls and we raised money for Safe Harbor and the YMCA. Many players hosts events like these and are something that us players can do as frequently or infrequently as we like. For me, it was a great opportunity to help out a friend and I was still able to get to Orlando by Tuesday night.

After playing 6 out of the last 7 week and moving into my apartment in 2 days, it turned out to be the perfect time for me to have a few friends come to Orlando. My friend Rosalyn came with one of her other bridesmaids and we spent three nights in Orlando enjoying a little down time. Every now and then we have to plan a little R&R as well. My coach is coming tomorrow for a few days and we will prepare for a five week stretch in Asia. I have received a ton of questions about Asia so here is the breakdown.

-All six Asia events are limited field. While most invite the top 60 players from the money list, not all 60 go to every event, so it will usually go down the money list closer to 70.

-I have chose to play in Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.

-I had never planned to play the first event in China (this coming week) and will be coming back to the states during the China event that takes places between South Korea and Taiwan for a friend’s wedding.

-None of these Asia events have a cut, so I am guaranteed four days of play in every event (and a paycheck).

-These events are part of the LPGA and count for CME points, Official World Ranking, and LPGA money list just like any other LPGA event.

That should answer 99% of the questions I frequently get. Hope it makes sense! I’m looking forward to my first time experiencing Asia and hoping to keep up the good play over there!

KK

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Hole #2 – Evian Championship

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Evian, France

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On the way to Switzerland!

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Switzerland is in sight!

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Dream crushing.

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Some fun in Prattville with Jaye Marie Green and Nat Sheary!

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Really great pro-am group in Prattville.  -16, so close to the W!

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Left: 5 Red Raiders in Orlando watching some Tech football!

Right: Me, Rosalyn, and Liz at the incredible Diagon Alley at Harry Potter World! This place is insane!

Coast to Coast

I just went back and read a bit of my blog from last time and realized that it was probably the most depressing birthday blog ever written. I should probably go and re-celebrate my 23rd birthday. However, as all golfers know, your game can change quickly. I am happy to report that the latter half of my 4-week August stretch was much more successful than the first. I went from the east coast of Canada to the west coast of the U.S. and found success in each place in a very different way. Thank God, because I know that you didn’t want to read another sad blog and I didn’t want to have to write it.

So I headed north to Ontario for the Canadian Open after possibly my worst ball striking week all year at Wegman’s. As I stated last week, I had two real goals: stay postivie, and spend enough time on the range so that my swing might come back to me. Well, I think I did both pretty well. After 4 very solid days and a final round 66, I finished the Canadian Open in T5 and earned my biggest pay day of the year. I couldn’t believe it. How could such a good week follow such a crummy week? Well, I would boil it down to two specific things:

1.) I have a coach that has built my swing for nearly two decades and thus knows what drills and advice I need without even being there to see it. If I tell him ball flight patterns and how it feels, he’s likely going to have a solution. He is also patient enough to put up with my never ending stream of emails/texts/swing videos. Not that I was in a panick or anything. :) How did people play on tour before internet and iPhones?

2.) A couple weeks ago when I was struggling I decided to dive back into working really hard on my mental game. This is something I did my junior year of college and saw great results. Funny how we slowly work away from things that are beneficial to us. Long story short, I committed to having a specific “playing focus” every day in Canada. While I could write a novel trying to explain how the golfer’s mind works under pressure during a tournament, I’m going to sum it up with the three simple thoughts I had on the course. For my driver, I only thought about the pressure in my feet. For my irons, I only thought about taking the club away from the ball with a square face. For my putting, I made sure I had a very relaxed jaw. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is simple, but it also takes a lot of concentration and constant self-reminders to come back to the “playing focus” for EVERY single shot and to stop your mind from wandering. It is something that took my full commitment, but I knew that I needed that little something extra for me to break thru to another level so I gave it my full attention.

After Canada I came back across the border and flew from Detroit to Portland. After nearly seven hours in the air (via Phoenix) I felt like I had just flown half-way across the world. Wow! Three weeks on the road was catching up to me. To make matters worse, the little over achiever in me signed up for an extra Tuesday pro-am on top of the regular Wednesday pro-am. I can tell you my caddie was super stoked to be carrying the bag 36 Tuesday, 18 Wednesday, and 4 straight tournament days. Everything always sounds better on paper than in real life.

I made it thru the pro-ams and practice days and was feeling pretty good going into Thursday coming off a hot week in Canada. It could have been the high I was on after visiting the Nike Company Store and getting a 50 percent discount on everything, but I really think it was more the good play in Canada. ;)  12 hours later, after an opening 75, I no longer felt so hot. I let the course scare me and didn’t stick to my playing focus. I walked off the course Thursday and went home to see what flights were available to Sioux Falls on Saturday.

Nonetheless, I went out on Friday with a better playing focus in mind and knew that 3 or 4 under was definitely out there for me. Even with a bogey on the 18th, I made the cut by one. I have to say, coming back from +3 to make the cut felt nearly as good as finishing T5 at the Canadian Open. At the beginning of the season I would not have believed in myself enough to do that, and thus I probably wouldn’t have. Those small victories are equally as important as the big ones. That was my first consecutive cut made since Hawaii/Dallas and a solid 7 under on the weekend. Portland was good to me.

As most of you have probably figured out, I will now head to the Evian Masters in France (Yeah!!) and then play the final domestic event of the year in Alabama the following week.   I have also now secured a spot to play in the Asian swing this fall. That was probably my biggest goal after jumping up to the LPGA so I’m very excited for that. Not excited for all that Asian food, but excited to be playing. I will be on the peanut butter and pretzel diet for 4 weeks.

Finally, before I go I need to send my condolences to the Amundson family. During my layover in Phoenix last week, I heard the terrible news that Mark Amundson, CEO of Sutton Bay, had tragically passed away. Mark was the first person in my young career to really step up and sponsor me and I will be forever grateful. Many people say they want to help, but Mark really did. I know he believed in me as a player, but more importantly he just wanted to help me enjoy the opportunity I was given to play. He will be greatly missed by all.

 

KK

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Fellow Red Raider student athlete, Sandra Dynka, just so happened to work in London where the event was!  So fun to see a familiar face and college friend. :)

 

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Sandra took me out on Wednesday night for a Canadian tradition.  It’s called “Poutine” and consists of french fries covered in cheese curds covered in gravy. The dinner of champions, obviously. haha.  It was pretty tasty!

 

 

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#15 at Columbia Edgewater CC in Portland.  If you’re really into massive trees, this is the place for you.

 

Stay Present, Stay Positive.

I wake up today celebrating my 23rd birthday.  I was truly hoping to be celebrating on the golf course, but once again I will be headed to the practice facility to prepare for next week after an early Friday exit.  After rounds of 74, 76 I missed the cut by 4 at the years fourth major.  However, my string of frustrating golf actually started last week in Michigan when I missed the weekend by only a single shot.

The Meijer Classic held in Grand Rapids, Michigan was a new event held at Blythefield Country Club. A traditional, 85 year old club that was perfect for an LPGA event.  There were so many good things going on last week.  My coach and his wife came up to celebrate their anniversary by watching me golf, I had a friend from Florida and a friend from Clark come to watch, and I had a fantastic host family.  On top of all that I was hitting the ball great.  After shooting even par the first day, I was in great position to have a solid week.  However, golf can so quickly turn good or bad and for me it went south in a hurry with two 3-putts on the back nine.  It was the first time that I missed by only one shot and it was truly gut wrenching to not wake up and not play on Saturday.  I knew that all aspects of my game were good, but I began to think about the cut line a little too much, and under that pressure I became too tense and tentative.  One of my biggest focuses right now is learning to play the same whether I am six under or six over.  The week in Michigan validated how valuable being able to stay in the present and sticking to an aggressive game plan will be one of the keys to me being successful out here.

So, I came to New York feeling good about my game and excited to be competing in my second major.  By the time Thursday rolls around I am usually very positive about the start of a new week again. However, during Tuesday’s practice round I started hitting the ball pretty poorly.  I didn’t want to think too much of it and make a problem where there wasn’t one, so I took it as the result of being  a bit exhausted and losing some focus in the treacherously long practice round.  The next day I played was Thursday, and when I hit it equally as terrible I knew that something was going on.  One of the benefits of having the same coach for 17 years is that I can send him some videos and he immediately sends one back with directions for what needs to be done.  I won’t get into the boring details of the mechanics of the golf swing, but I had worked back into an old habit that was not beneficial to my ball striking.

After three buckets of balls after Thursday’s round, I decided it was probably best for me to go home, get some rest, and then come back out on Friday morning to do a little swing work before my actual warmup for Friday’s round.  There is a find balance during playing days to practice enough, but not so much that by the time you hit the back nine you aren’t physically or mentally exhausted.  I would have preferred to stand there like a robot and hit until a better swing path was grooved in, but it wasn’t the time.  I still had to focus on being ready to play.

If you followed live scoring, you know that Friday was a tough day and I actually shot worse than Thursday.  With that being said I actually hit more good shots than Thursday, just didn’t make as many long putts.  At this point, just hitting some solid irons into the green was probably more important than “luckily” shooting a good score.  I definitely saw some better shots on Friday over Thursday, but still have a long ways to go before I tee it up this coming Thursday in the Canadian Women’s Open.

While I really wish I was playing today, it is still my birthday and my mom and our friend, Tami Nelson, are here and I know they will help me celebrate.  After some good hours on the range I know we will find something fun to do.  Tomorrow I will leave for Canada via charter bus (living the dream, eh?) and get ready for a good week.  I feel it is getting harder and harder to stay positive when I have only made 2 of the last 10 cuts.  However, I know better than anyone that one good week can change a lot of things.  My goal next week is not only to find a better swing, but to stay positive and enjoy the opportunity I have to play against the best in the world.  I feel I am doing all the right things, and if I don’t run out of patience I think I will see it pay off.

I know its not fun watching those bogeys, but I thank everyone for their continued support. Here’s to a great birthday and to better week in Canada. :)

KK

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Megan, Danny, and I during Monday practice round.

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Our fantastic host mom for the week, Holly! :)

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We meet some great people on the road.  Before our pro-am party, a friend of our host family, Mr. Workman, took us to the upstairs of this awesome wine and liquor store.  Very cool experience!! We then continued on to the pro am party in his motor home!

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Wine for days…

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If you grew up in the 80′s, I thought you might enjoy a little “Back to the Future” flashback.

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My longtime coach and his wife Susan.  Thanks for spending your anniversary weekend with me!  You guys are truly the best!! :)

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Birthday celebration in New York.  Lots of good friends and family out here on the road.  Thank you guys for sticking out the hour and a half wait to enjoy some good food with me!

 

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!