Date: February 16, 2019
Author: Mark Hayes

Kemp rides high in happy place

Victory isn’t necessarily binary, as Sarah Kemp is discovering in spades early in 2019.

While most in sport discuss simply winning or losing, the affable New South Welshwoman has suddenly realised that she can indeed be a monstrous winner without standing on top of the podium.

It’s not that she won’t be busting a gut to take down her national crown in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in tomorrow’s final round.

It’s more that Kemp, 33, is on the verge of two life-changing achievements just a fortnight after confronting a season with effectively no LPGA Tour status.

With her share of second place in the ISPS Handa Vic Open last week, the former Central Coaster has effectively done enough to “reshuffle” up the LPGA Tour categories and assure herself of most starts in 2019.

With her 68 today at The Grange, Kemp’s five-under-par total is good for a share of 13th heading into a final round that could just as easily wrap up her 2020 card as well.

“I couldn't have dreamed of a better start to the year, to be honest,” Kemp said after her round.

“Last week, it feels like I won. I've had such a nice reception from absolutely everybody. And I was actually a little bit cautious of how I was going into this week. 

“But my coach, John (Serhan), came for a few days … because I wanted to let go of last week and say sort of, `Look, I've had such a great week, I don't want to be a one-hit wonder. Let's keep the foot on the pedal’, sort of thing.

“And in the mind space I was in, I took all of Monday off.  I was absolutely buggered emotionally – which is obviously a fantastic problem to have.

“So, I was a little bit cautious – and I started off a little shaky on Thursday – I was a little bit nervous. I had more attention, a few more people watching than I ever have.  But I sort of eased into the round. 

“And I'm actually really proud of myself that I have sort of put it together this week as well, considering how — like the half of last week as well.

“So I'm absolutely thrilled for where I am.  If I can just stay where I am in the head space, it should be a good year.”

Kemp made just one bogey in her round today – a self-proclaimed “world class one” at that after two visits to sand right on the third hole – and the rest was pure, even to the point of missing a couple of chances that would have brought her even closer to leader Nelly Korda.

But it matters little to Kemp, who’s clearly found her happy place – on and off the course.

“I feel pretty good … just in a good place in life,” she said.

“Everything's good – family, life, it’s all good. I have got really no worries outside of golf, which is just really nice.

“I played pretty decent last year on the LET, and I just found some confidence, I guess. And I didn't feel as sorry for myself as I used to and just got into a good place, and it's paying off.

“I'm sure this good result is from working probably all of last year, not just recently, but it's just kind of falling into place nicely, and I've got a bit more confidence than I ever have.”

But still a realist, Kemp’s fully aware of what a massive day tomorrow would mean.

“It's always been my favourite event. Your national open, there's nothing bigger.

“I get asked a lot what's the tournament you want to win, and it's a toss-up between the US Open and this one.  It really is.

“I know there is a huge difference in prize money, but … there's nothing that compares to your national open. 

“So if I can go out there tomorrow and … give them a little scare again, it would be nice.”