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

 

Lake Wales and Longwood

Hey, everyone!  It is Tuesday morning and I am enjoying my day off after another Monday finish yesterday.  The afternoon was washed out on Saturday so we played the final round for the IOA Classic on Monday instead.  These last two weeks in Florida weren’t really what I was hoping for, but part of the game is learning to be patient and fight thru the times when the game is testing your patience and determination.  

We started this Florida swing playing down in Lake Wales two weeks ago.  This was an event sponsored by Florida’s Natural Orange Juice, and thanks to my roommate, Marissa, she smuggled enough orange juice in her golf bag to last us until next years event.  I was struggling with my ball striking going into Lake Wales, but felt I did pretty well with what I had.  It’s amazing how you can win an event in Los Angeles one week and be on the range in Florida 2 days later frantically sending videos to your coach.  The ups and downs in the game can drive a player crazy.  The final day in Lake Wales I struck the ball very well, but of course couldn’t make a putt outside of 2 feet.  It is always something!  

As always, I stayed in a host house in Lake Wales.  Marissa stayed with me as well and we feel that when it comes to host houses we hit the jackpot.  Long story short, our host has been the tennis pro for 35 years at a club in Lake Wales called Mountain Lake.  Now, we had never heard of Mountain Lake before so didn’t think much of it.  However, after a few days at the tournament and chit chatting with different girls, we quickly realized that Mountain Lake is like the Augusta of Florida.   100 estates on property, 100 members.  Nearly all of the 12,000 people that reside in Lake Wales will never see the inside of those gates or even know it is there.  On our way to dinner one night, our hosts took us through the property.  It was one of those places that is hard to describe.  I had never seen such a beautiful, peaceful place. The houses were straight up southern mansions, and the course was a pure of golf course as you have ever seen.  Needless to say, when they offered to have us back to play, we jumped at the chance.  I don’t know what you will be doing Easter Monday, but we will be playing golf at Mountain Lake. :)  

We came back on Sunday night and were super excited to be able to stay at our own place for the event in Longwood, FL.  Alaqua CC is literally 10 minutes from our house.  Since we were playing so close to home I had a friend volunteer to come out and caddy for me and several other friends that came to watch a few holes throughout the weekend.  It’s always great to have a tournament at home.  I didn’t play “lights out” but I was definitely closer to where I want to be. Driver was solid, putting was ten times better than in Lake Wales (not that it could have been worse) and I made progress on my iron game throughout the week.  With a 3 under closing nine, I snuck into the top twenty for the week.  

We now have a three week break before we start a 5 week stretch of events at the end of April.  In these three weeks I will make a quick trip to Sioux Falls to see my coach, watch Adam Scott win his second Masters, and move out of our apartment for the summer.  There is always something going on, but I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t have some sort of trip planned!  

I hope that wherever you are reading this from, you will be getting out on the course soon! Summer is almost here!  

KK 

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The Symetra Tour has partnered with the Annika Academy and will thus do six “Winning Approach” sessions.  Charlotta Sorenstam was the first presenter!

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Collegiate Colors day in Lake Wales.  Glad to have these two Tech grads out here with me!!  Guns up!

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Practice round with Jean Chua, Marissa Steen, and Nicole Morales!  Nicole is going to play at Alabama next year and got the sponsor exemption into the IOA Classic.  She made the cut and finished at +4. Keep an eye on this girl, she is the real deal! 

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Great photo from the final round of the IOA Classic at Alaqua CC.  

West Coast WIN!

Hello, everyone!  I am sitting on my flight from Phoenix to Houston and couldn’t be more excited to get this blog written!  These past two weeks have flown by and have been very eventful.  I’ve gone from Orlando to Phoenix, Phoenix to Los Angeles, back to Phoenix, and will end up in Orlando tonight.  I know you all already know that I took home the trophy from the Volvik Championship out in L.A., but there is so much more that has happened over the past two weeks.  I could take this blog in so many directions, so I’m going to touch on a little bit of everything. The good (winning in Los Angeles!), the bad (my play in Phoenix, yikes!) and the ugly (mudslides in California?).

Lets start with the bad.  We opened the Symetra season in Phoenix at Longbow Golf Club.  Weather was perfect, course was in great condition, I was ready to go.  After three days of fighting for par on holes where I had a wedge in my hand, I was less than enthusiastic and even a bit bewildered by my +1, T41 finish.  When I say it was bad, it was BAD.  I won’t even discuss the wedge shot that I shanked the first day.  However, the tournament finished and there was absolutely nothing I could do to change how I played or the result.  I had to move on and start thinking positively for the Volvik Championship in L.A..  Short-term memory loss is a golfer’s best friend.

On the bright side, I had a ton of fun in Phoenix staying with some good family friends.  I’ve known the Totman’s since I was a young girl and it was great to spend some time with them. They were fantastic hosts for my first week on the road! My coach was also there with some girls from Team 605.  No matter how you play, it’s always nice to see some familiar faces following you around.  I hope they had some fun and were inspired to keep working hard.  I have no doubt that each of those girls can be inside the ropes some day!

So I leave Phoenix in a bit of a funk, and head to sunny L.A. in hopes of making something out of this west coast swing.  I had never been to southern California and was really looking forward to seeing what all the hype was about.  To make a long story short, it took 54 hours for the field to complete the FIRST round of play.  Sunny, dry, perfect southern California decided to host the biggest rainstorm of the century during out tournament.  Thank you, California.  Every morning we turned on the news to hear more about mud slides, water spouts, and house evacuations.  What is going on? Are we playing golf in India? Nonetheless, the tournament was quickly cut to 36 holes when it became obvious that 54 holes was out of the question. After playing 18 holes on Saturday, and my final 18 on Monday, I’m not complaining. :)

Yesterday’s round was one of the best rounds I’ve played in a long time.  I hit some great shots that lead to tap in birdies, made a couple of long ones for birdie, and scrambled to save some good pars.  I think any great round of golf generally contains a mix of those three elements.  This win was so different from my win in Michigan last year.  I played in the second to last group, and at the turn I knew that the leader was at -6, I was at -4, and a couple girls were at -2 and -1.  However, there were no scoreboards on the back nine.  I had no idea where I stood.  I got to the par 5 18th hole at -7 and figured it would be a good idea to make one more birdie.  As I walked up to the green to look at my 30 yard approach I was pleasantly surprised and even a bit skeptical to see myself with a four shot lead.  However, it made my pitch shot into the green and routine two putt a bit less stressful.

My plan for the day was to stay in the present and the phrase I kept reminding myself of on the course was that I was there to just “play good golf.”  You can’t control the leader board; you can only control the shots that you hit.  I told my coach on Friday that regardless of the weather and the shortening of the event, somebody was still going to walk away with a trophy and a check.  I’m glad that person was me.

To put this round and this win into context, about 4 months ago I started working with my coach on what felt like a complete swing overhaul.  Changing major parts of your swing can be extremely frustrating and sometime even make you question if you belong on the tour.  I was essentially trying to retrain muscle memory that had been grooved in for years.  Nonetheless, we kept at it and believed in our plan.  Most people are always looking for the “quick fix.” Sometimes, there is no quick fix.  If you truly believe that what you are doing is right, you just have to put in the time and be patient. I feel this week and this win really validated what we had been working on for the last several months.

A big thanks to everyone who I know was following along via live scoring this week and for all the nice messages, tweets, and emails.  A big thanks to Volvik for sponsoring this event and to everyone who made it possible including the Symetra Tour staff and the Pacific Palms Resort.

I will be home in Orlando for a few weeks before playing again in Lake Wales, Florida in the middle of March.  Enjoy all the photos below; I owe you from last week.

KK

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Team 605, Todd, and I at the VisitMesa.com Gateway Classic

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All the Kolbs!

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Great view of hole #4 at Industry Hills in L.A.

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Love those big cardboard checks!

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West Coast Swing.

Good Morning everyone!  I am up early this morning getting everything ready to go to Phoenix today.  More precisely, trying to figure out how to pack my entire closet into one suitcase.  I’m not overpacking, but you never know when you might need 4 sweatshirts and 2 scarves in Arizona.  

In case you missed it, I did play in a SunCoast series event last week at LPGA International.  I finished solo second after a final round 69.  I’ve spent this last week just practicing and playing every day getting ready for Phoenix.  I’ve been in Orlando for just over 3 months now and am a little surprised to find how much I like it here. I was so set on moving to Phoenix when I turned professional that when I decided instead to come to Orlando I wasn’t real excited.  I had more friends living in Phoenix and I knew that the Orlando humidity was NOT good for my hair.  However, these last few weeks in Orlando I’ve realized that I really like it here.  My roommate, Marissa, and I have had a great time living and practicing together and there’s a great group of professional and junior players at Heathrow CC that we play with.  I’m sorry, Phoenix, but I’m not missing you at all.     

I also took some time this week to think about the season and what I want to accomplish by setting a few goals for 2014.  I divided it up into statistical goals and performance goals:

Statistical goals:

1. Greens in regulation up to 78%

2. The length of putt left after I chip down to 4′ or less.      

3. The length of putt left after a sand shot to 8′ or less. 

Performance goals:

1. Multiple wins on Symetra Tour

2. Ten top tens

3. LPGA tour card for 2015 

I will start working towards these goals this week in Phoenix! My coach is coming down with 4 of his students to get out of Antarctica, a.k.a South Dakota, to watch the tournament and play some golf.  This works out well for me, if I learned one thing in college it was the importance of making the constant effort to see my coach and make sure my swing is in check on a regular basis.  

After my week in Phoenix I will drive to Los Angeles for the next event.  I’ve never been to southern California so I’m excited to check out L.A..  I will also get to see one of my best college friends and teammates that week.  She is in her first year of law school at Pepperdine so I fully plan to drag her out of the law library against her will to go out and have some fun.  After the tournament finishes in California I will stay an extra night and visit Callaway on Monday morning.  It is a busy couple of weeks but it is definitely time to get 2014 started.

In case you don’t have Twitter (which you should)  and missed it, I announced my partnership with Loudmouth Golf for 2014. I started wearing Loudmouth clothes after my win on the Symetra tour last year and they have always taken super good care of me.  We worked out the details of our contract last week and thus made our partnership official for the 2014 season.

Ok, thats all I got for this time.  Enough procrastinating, I seriously need to figure out this packing situation.  Overweight baggage fees are not in the budget.  

As always, follow live scoring this week on the Symetra tour website!

KK 

 

(Sorry, I have taken zero pictures these past couple weeks! If you normally just scroll down to look at the pictures, just Google some pictures of Florida. Photos from both events will be coming next time for sure :)  

Bahamas.

After a short 5 day trip to the Bahamas and my first PGA show this week, I finally have some time to sit down and reflect on my first LPGA Monday qualifier.  It wasn’t as successful as I hoped it would be, but that doesn’t make it a complete failure!  It feels great to have that first Monday qualifier under my belt and I have three different “take aways” from the week. 

1. I made six birdies.  My first time playing on an LPGA course in LPGA conditions and I proved to myself that I can score.  It wasn’t too long, to fast, or to tough.  If nothing else, I gained some confidence that I can play in the LPGA arena.

2. You can never have too many shots in your bag.  On the very first hole, my approach came up about 5 yards short.  I proceeded to take out my wedge and thought I would convert an easy up and down.  However, the bermuda grass was shaved so closely around the greens and with my shot facing into the grain I completely chunked it.  Great start, Kim. I would make a six footer to save bogey.  Ironically, on my very last hole of the day, another seemingly straight forward chip shot would suffer the same fate.  Yep, chunked it.  Thankfully, an empty grandstand was really the only witness.  Lesson learned? Next time I will spend much more time experimenting with different shots on those tight bermuda lies around the greens.  My playing partner on the day demonstrated a couple times how easily the hybrid can work in those situations.  Although frustrating to see those two shots wasted, its only a failure if I’m not aware of what went wrong and don’t come up with a plan to change it.  Insanity really is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

3. Finally, I need to learn to finish.  As I already mentioned, I made 6 birdies on the day.  In fact, I was 4 under with two holes to go.  While hindsight is 20/20 and its easy to look back and think how easy it should have been to make two simple pars, I can promise you it is a whole lot different standing on the par 3 17th with a 5 iron in your hand and a 15 m.p.h. wind blowing left to right thinking you are two holes away from playing your first LPGA event.  However, I know that as professional athletes we are often in these situations and only if I am aware of what happened, admit that it happened, and remember how it felt do I have a chance of changing it for the next time. It takes a lot of failed attempts before it finally sinks in that being nervous, fearful, etc. will NEVER help.  I can tell you I have never won a tournament and thought,”I think I won because I was super nervous.”  No, you win tournaments and finish good rounds when thoughts of the outcome, score, or bad shots are nowhere on your mind; often referred to as “in the zone.”  I wasn’t in the zone this week, I was close, but not quite.  

 

On a lighter note, I was lucky to spend a little time in the atmosphere of the LPGA.  Everyone stayed at the Atlantis resort this week, and although it was super nice, it was super expensive. I’m fairly certain there was a charge for breathing.  Before I booked my trip I knew that I wouldn’t go if I had to pay for my own room.  Therefore, I split a room with a girl, and her mom, that I knew but had never really met.   It is often surprising the things we all do to save some travel expense.  It may also be surprising that nine times out of ten, it turns out really good.  We had a great time.  I felt really lucky that by some sort of fate we ended up rooming together and after 4 days of work and 1 day of vacation I ended up with a new, really good friend.  

Last but not least, I experienced my first PGA Show in Orlando at the end of the week. If you don’t know what the PGA Show is, it’s held at the second largest convention center in the nation, Orange County Convention Center,  with over 2,000,000 square feet of exhibit space. (Yep, Googled it.) In other words, it is MASSIVE.  Every vendor in golf is present from Callaway to the guys that invented the “golf bike.” Don’t ask.  It is primarily a way for people in the golf industry to buy merchandise and see what new products will be coming to the market.  However, it is also a great way to meet people and network. The bright side of missing the Monday qualifier by a shot is that I was able to come back to the show and see my coach, my agent, and even play some golf with a sponsor.  This was the definition of a busy and productive week.

Looking forward to a couple normal weeks of practice and a Sun Coast event next week.  As always, I’ll keep ya’ll posted.  

KK

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I know I have a palm tree coming out of my head, but this was the BEST view on the course.

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If you have an extra bazillion dollars lying around you can buy a yacht and park it at Marina Village at the Atlantis resort. I literally could have spent hours staring at these things.  I’m clearly from the midwest!

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Vendor in Nassau at the straw market.  Good to go and see the “real” Bahamas.

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A little beach time on Tuesday.

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PGA Show in Orlando.   

 

  

two.thousand.fourteen

Welcome to 2014 everyone!  I hope everyone had a fun and successful time ringing in the New Year and are now into your third week of your “new life” with whatever resolution you came up with.  Whether it be losing weight or taking more time for yourself, I’m actually a big proponent of New Year’s Resolutions.  There is something special about turning the calendar to a new year that sometimes gives you that little extra spark that you need to make a change.  Or, perhaps it is the fact that there isn’t a holiday centered around overeating for at least a few more months.  Probably a combination of both.  When I was in college, my friend and I would often come up with different resolutions or “challenges” that we would do to better ourselves and our golf games.  In my last semester, we made a plan to work up to a 4 minute abdominal plank (feet and elbows on the floor holding yourself like a bridge).  Starting at a minute and a half, we added five seconds every day; and I mean EVERY day.  I vividly remember walking 36 holes in Phoenix and doing a 3 minute plank that night at our host house.  After about 7 weeks, we finally completed our goal.  A solid, sturdy, 4-minute plank. No butts in the air! :)  There wasn’t really a reason or motive for doing it besides the sheer satisfaction of proving to ourselves that we could. There is possibly no greater feeling.

With that being said, I have started a new challenge for this year: NoSweets2014!  Anybody that knows me well knows that I have the biggest sweet tooth.  I think its genetic, but nonetheless I have challenged myself to eating no sweets for one full calendar year.  Now, if you really know me, you know that I now have a calendar in my room and I will be checking off the days in a nice, neat, and organized fashion.  So, what does NoSweets2014 mean?  It’s not a diet.  Let me repeat that, I am NOT on a diet.  I will still enjoy chips, bread, pasta, etc.  I’m simply going to refrain from the ice cream, cookies, cakes, brownies, and anything else that has zero nutritional value.  So what’s the goal?  The goal is to see if I notice a difference in my life on and off the golf course.  Will I be able to push myself further in the gym? Will I have more energy and stamina on the golf course? Will I even miss the sugar?  You hear so much these days about the negative affect of pop, aspartame, sugar, etc. and I want to find out for myself if I can really notice a significant change.

Now, I am sharing this for a few reasons.  First, I know for a fact that the more people I tell the more likely I am to be successful.  You all will hold me accountable!  Second, I want to hear about YOUR New Year’s resolution.  What are you doing this year to become a better person? I am always interested so please post it in the comments! Lastly, if I politely deny your world famous chocolate cake, I don’t want you to take it personally. :) Cheers to 2014!

Ok, I haven’t forgotten that this is a blog about golf and my road to the LPGA.  Perhaps cutting out sweets will help me get there.  You never know.  The first part of 2014 is going to be a bit crazy for me.  I am actually going to try and Monday qualify for the first LPGA event this coming Monday (January 20) in the Bahamas.  Monday qualifiers are at nearly every LPGA event and are a one day 18 hole tournament for 2 qualifying spots. If I make it, I will spend the week there, if not I will come home Tuesday and experience my first PGA Show here in Orlando.  At the beginning of February I will play a mini-tour Sun Coast Series event at LPGA International as a final tune up before the Symetra season gets started at the end of February.  As soon as the full Symetra Tour schedule is released I will be sure to get it posted in the “Tournaments & Finish” tab.

I look forward to writing about my first Monday qualifier, and hopefully my first LPGA event, in my next blog.  I have also added the LPGA website as a link on the left hand side of the page.  Don’t forget to share your New Year’s resolution and good luck with it!

KK

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4 Minutes! Look at that form ;) (Spring 2013)

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Practicing out at Heathrow CC.

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Elin came to visit!!  We took a day trip to Sea World.

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We also attended a Solar Bears hockey game.  I will definitely go again!

Category 17

LPGA Qualifying school is often called “marathon week.”  By the time my alarm went off Friday morning at 6:15, I knew where the nickname came from.  I was physically and emotionally tired, and wasn’t even half way done.  The week started with practice rounds Sunday thru Tuesday, 18 holes Wednesday thru Sunday, and finally a 6 hour rookie orientation Monday.  I can now definitely say I am looking forward to coming home for the holidays and the rest and relaxation that will come with it.

My motto going into the week was “No Fear.”  I felt that if I played scared, afraid of making any mistakes, it probably wouldn’t turn out in my favor.  Although this is a great motto to have during any event, it especially rings true when it’s five rounds with nothing to lose.  I already had Symetra Tour status for next year, all I could do was move up to the LPGA.  Unfortunately, playing with “No Fear” is easier said than done.  After an opening round 75, all I felt was fear.  Fear of missing the cut, fear of no LPGA status, and the fear of spending roughly $6,000 dollars on this one week to walk away empty handed.  The week was long enough, and I knew it was going to be really long if I kept finding hazards with my 7 iron.

Over the next four days I shot 7 under, never shooting another round over par.  By the time I came to my 90th hole on Sunday afternoon, I felt that if I birdied the short par 5 I would have a good chance of getting into a playoff.  I had come a long ways since Wednesday.  Unfortunately, I made par on my last hole and would end up missing the play off by 2 shots.

So what does this mean for me now?  This means I am a member of the LPGA under category 17.  Also known as conditional or provisional status.  When the new year starts, everyone is given a number; essentially like a ranking. We all went to Q school to try and gain as high of number as we possibly could.  Jaye Marie Green, the girl that just trampled the field, will start the year at 118.  I will start at 167.  This means that in a full field event of 144 players, I need 23 of the 166 girls ahead of me to not play that week.  It seems like a lot, but with 33 events this year I feel confident that there will be plenty of opportunity for me to tee it up on the LPGA.  There are also two reshuffles during the year where our number can improve, or get worse, depending on how we have played.  Those reshuffles can be huge in defining how the season can progress for me.

While I think I will play in as many LPGA events as I can, I will also continue to play the Symetra tour nearly full time as well.  The difficulty for me this year will be deciding when to head to an LPGA event and when to go to a Symetra event.  We generally find out if we are in an LPGA field only a few days before.  With my OCD of wanting to plan out everything 6 years in advance, this should be quite the experience.  However, it’s definitely a good problem to have. :)

I know I received a lot of questions regarding what this status means, how it works, and how many events I will be able to play.  I hope this helps clear it up a bit.  The bottom line is that I don’t really know either.  I will try and plan out my schedule the best I can, but must always be ready to make a last minute change if I can get into an LPGA event, or if I must head back to the Symetra tour for the week.  The LPGA schedule is currently up on their website and they Symetra schedule will be out sometime in January if you want to check them out.

Overall, there was a lot to digest this week and after yesterday’s six hour orientation I am on information overload.  The two things I learned yesterday: commit to every event no matter what, and I’ll probably get fined for something.  Let’s hope its a small one.  I do need to thank my caddie for the week, Brodie, who came all the way from Portland to spend the week with me.  He has always been my favorite caddie and we worked so well together out there this week.  I would also like to thank my small fan club this week, Tami Nelson and her nephews, Colin and Brock.  They took time out of their vacation to come watch me on Wednesday and Sunday and even took me out to dinner.  They are an awesome group and I couldn’t have been happier to spend some time with them.

I’m headed home in a couple days and will spend a couple of weeks in Clark.  I look forward to seeing all my friends and family, but also to get rid of this darn sun burn.  Does the sun every stop shining in Florida? ;)

Merry Christmas everyone!

KK

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Daytona Beach with Laura Kueny!

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Final round.

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Rookie orientation binder.  Some light reading over Christmas?