Date: July 06, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Kirk dominates in happy place

It's amazing how much of a mental game golf can be – just ask Katherine Kirk.

Six days removed from an 83 – her worst round as a professional – the mercurial Queenslander recorded her best pro round today to fire to the lead of the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in Wisconsin.

Kirk, 36, made a spectacular return to the Oneida course, near Green Bay, that she tamed last year for her first LPGA Tour win in seven years, leading by one at 10 under after her stunning, bogey-free 62 that equalled the course record.

But with a swag of chasers also deep in red numbers, Kirk knows she might have to go even better than her winning score of 22 under last year.

"I had no expectations to win, but there are good vibes here and I have a lot of confidence on this golf course," Kirk said.

"It's a fun golf course to play, but it's a marathon, not a sprint.

"I told myself, 'Hey, listen, you've played well up in Green Bay (before), so just go do it'. It's not rocket science."

Kirk, this week confirmed as one of four to represent Australia in the UL International Crown later this year, has not been in great form recently, missing five cuts in her past six tournaments.

But back at a course full of fond memories, you would never have known.

"I know you can go low here," she said.

"Stepping on the first tee I said, 'Let's make as many birdies as possible'.

"I got off to a hot start and tried to keep the pedal down so I'm glad it worked it out."

Hot is an understatement.

Starting on the 10th, Kirk birdied the first three holes, then closed the back nine with four more on the trot.

She then birdied the third and closed the gem with two more for good measure on the seventh and ninth.

Of the other Australians, Minjee Lee carded a four-under-par 68, Sarah Jane Smith a 69 and Rebecca Artis who rescued her round with four late birdies in a 70 to remain in contention.