Date: February 01, 2007
Author: Luke Buttigieg

Kemp’s enjoyable day

By Luke Buttigieg Sarah Kemp had a fun day with a close friend at Royal Sydney on Thursday, so much so that by the time she finished she was holding the outright lead on the opening day of the MFS Women&aposs Australian Open. The 21-year-old gave no hint of what was to come when she opened with five straight pars from the 10th, but her impressive play began to be rewarded when she collected two birdies in a row at 15 and 16. And four more in five holes from the first, with shots picked up back-to-back at one and two and four and five, gave Kemp a share of the lead with Nikki Campbell before she closed with four pars in a row to top the leaderboard on her own. “I hit it really well, I hit my driver really well, I hit most of the fairways or if not just a couple of metres off,” Kemp said of her round. “I don&apost know, I just kind of felt easy, I hit it on the green and a few putts went in.” With her friend, who is a former New South Wales amateur representative, carrying her bag and helping her enjoy herself in between shots, Kemp has matched the score she shot in the second round of the same event four years ago at Terrey Hills. Then a 17-year-old amateur, on that occasion Kemp followed her opening round 75 to climb back to three-under, and shot 71 in the third round before a 76 on the Sunday left her with a share of 32nd on even-par. But revealing a remarkably sensible attitude for one who was then so young, Kemp resisted the approaches of a couple of management companies to turn professional because she didn&apost believe the time was right. “I didn&apost think I was old enough actually,” she said. “I had a really good amateur year in 2003 and a lot of people kind of came up to me after that and said &aposwhat do you think about turning pro&apos? I was 17 and I just I still felt like a baby.” “I did a couple more years as an amateur and just felt like the time was right even though my golf probably wasn&apost as good as it was in that year when everybody wanted me to turn. It just felt like it was right and I wanted to kind of go to the next level and play against the big girls.” Coached by Bill McWilliam since early in her career, and now also working under Peter Knight with Golf Australia, Kemp finished second and third in tournaments on the Ladies European Tour in 2006 to exceed her ambition of simply retaining her card. But having had an inconsistent season as she made eight cuts and missed nine, she is &aposlooking forward to it again this year&apos and ready to step her game up even further. “I&aposd like to win a tournament, coming second and third last year was pretty nice and I thought I could go one better and maybe win a tournament on the European Tour this year,” she added before also stating her intention to contest the LPGA Tour Qualifying School at year&aposs end. Fresh from winning a pro-am at Royal Sydney last week in which she shot 74 in even better conditions than those she played in on Thursday, Kemp doesn&apost feel any extra pressure to perform amid &aposflattering&apos comparisons to world No.3 Karrie Webb. But having surprised even herself with her 66, even though she left a couple of shots out there by failing to finish off her round as well as she&aposd have liked, Kemp has a simple goal for where she wants to be late in every tournament. “My goal going into most tournaments is to be in the last group because one, I would be in some sort of contention and two, there&aposs heaps of people watching and I kind of like to show off,” Kemp said with a smile. “I just thought that last group, if I could do that and just kind of hang somewhere close up near the leaders, it would be nice.”