Australian golfer Sarah Kemp is looking for something special in her game in 2012 and hopes to find it next week at the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch.
Kemp came close to winning the event in 2010 at the Pegasus Golf and Sports Club when she finished joint-runner up to England’s Laura Davies by two shots after leading the tournament heading into the final round.
The LPGA Tour player, who made seven out of 14 cuts in 2011, feels a bit ho-hum about her golf and is looking to reignite her ability to contend tournaments.
“It’s ok where I am right now but I definitely want to get to a higher level in my game,” said the 26-year-old from the NSW Golf Club.
“I started my professional career really well and I had a lot of momentum but I feel like I haven’t kicked on. It is time for me to do something special again.”
The former top ranked NSW Amateur is searching for greater consistency in 2012 and has changed her weekly routine on tour in an attempt to have a more settled life and steady scoring.
“One week I will be in contention and the next I will miss the cut. I have had a good look at my life and one of the things I have noticed being home is that life is easier here with good routine. When you are on tour with all of the travel, hotels and the rest of the distractions it is very hard to achieve a solid routine. I feel like I have been winging it a lot and that is showing in my results.”
Kemp’s best performance in 2011 came when she tied for 10th place at the Safeway Classic. She had a top 10 finish at the 2012 NSW Open and feels confident returning to Pegasus which is a course she feels suits her game.
“I don’t know why but I feel very comfortable in Christchurch and I really like the Pegasus Golf Course. I have some good memories from a few years ago when I finished second and I know I can score well there.
“I like the layout. The front nine is where you can do a lot of your scoring and the back is a good test especially when the wind gets up which is always a factor in this tournament.
“I am not too fazed about playing in strong winds. I am used to it and I like hitting a low cut under the wind so I’ll be working on that in the lead up to Pegasus. If you can’t play in the wind then it’s going to be a long week.”
Kemp has her card on both the LET and LPGA Tours but prefers to play in the States. Her goal for 2012 is to finish inside the top 60 on the money list and have a season with “a few highlights to look back on”.
Her career has many highlights to look back. In 2006 she recorded six top-10 finishes on the ALPG, finishing second on the ALPG Order of Merit, the following year she recorded six consecutive top-10 finishes on the Ladies European Tour (LET).
Later in 2007 Kemp carded birdies on her final four holes at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to tie for ninth and earn exempt status for the 2008 LPGA season where she has held her card since.
“All of my career I have stepped up to the level required but I feel like I have been competing at the same level for a while and it is time to improve.”
She is very grateful for the support of Dr Haruhisa Handa to maintain the co-sanction status of the New Zealand Women’s Open on both the ALPG and the Ladies European Tour (LET) and said “it is important for Christchurch.”
“It is great for women’s golf in this part of the world. Having big tournaments like this in New Zealand and Australia is really important in growing the game.”
Kemp remembers vividly the feeling well of watching the devastation of the February earthquake last year on television only two days after she left the Garden City.
“It was pretty scary and shocking to have missed it by only two days. That was an eerie feeling. It is incredible that the event is still going ahead. I have been really impressed by the resolve of the people of Christchurch. We pro golfers have it pretty easy so it’s a nice chance to give something back and hopefully by us playing in a golf tournament we can put a few smiles on people’s faces.”