Even months after their wedding days, Australia's Katherine Hull-Kirk, England's Jodi Ewart-Shadoff and Americans Morgan Pressel and Amanda Blumenherst still seem to carry the gleam as they enter the 2013 LPGA Tour season, especially Hull-Kirk who married Tom in their backyard in Wichita, Kansas last August.
“Married life is great when you marry your best friend,” beamed Hull-Kirk. “I’ve known Tom for 11 years and he is my best friend, my soul mate. There’s no one else in this world I love spending time with as much as him.”
The two shared their wedding day with their closest family members, while having a big reception with friends the following day. Admittedly a little distracted with wedding planning during the 2012, Hull-Kirk trusted Tom to make the proper arrangements for their perfect wedding day while she was traveling on Tour. She says he did a superb job.
Married now for almost seven months, the two are now juggling her hectic LPGA travel schedule while Tom works as a financial advisor in Wichita. Hull-Kirk says the two have maintained perfect stability so far, as Tom will be able to travel to the majority of the domestic events this season.
“So far we are maintaining a good balance,” said Hull-Kirk. “I think part of it is the fact that I’ve known Tom for so long. He knew what my schedule was before we got married and he figured if he wanted to see me he’d have to travel a bit.
I’m just thankful that he likes traveling because it means I get to see him an extra 14 weekends we wouldn’t otherwise get to spend together. The way the schedule is I think I’ll only be in Wichita only 14 weeks this year. It’s not a lot of time at home when you think about it.”
Hull-Kirk enters the 2013 season following a rollercoaster of a season after notching just three top-10s last year. Currently in a three-year winless drought, Hull-Kirk says she’s getting closer to a shot at standing in the winner’s circle.
“I’m quietly excited for this year,” says Hull-Kirk. “I feel like I have great bounce coming off the course this year. I think I’m more mature now on the golf course too and that certainly helps. Game-wise, I think I’m close. I’m kind of tweaking a few things, particularly with my short game.
“I was really happy to finish in the top-10 in Australia, which was kind of nice to do in front of a home crowd and it’s always something you want to do at your national open. It was a better start than I expected. Thailand and Singapore were so, so. But you know that’s part of golf, it’s a long season; a marathon, not a sprint.”
As a 10-year member on the LPGA Tour, Hull-Kirk admits the younger talent on the course each week not only challenges her, but also gives her motivation to fight her way back into the top-20 in the Rolex Rankings, a place she hasn’t been in fouryears.
“I suppose the main goal is to get back in the top-20 on the money list,” said Hull-Kirk. “I think if I get back in the top-20 on that list then my world ranking will improve as well. There’s so much talent out here now, you’ve got to work smarter and harder to be able to get in contention. I think top-10s are a good goal to have at the start of every week considering the strength of field we have.”
A native of Sunrise Beach, Australia, Hull-Kirk says golf has never been the most popular sport among women or men in her home country. With only 11 LPGA Tour pros hailing from Australia this year, Hull-Kirk admits she’s slightly disappointed golf hasn’t taken off in her home country but after living in the U.S. for more than 14 years, she couldn’t be more thrilled to see the state of women’s golf take flight across the country.
“It’s fantastic to see such young girls taking interest in golf here in the U.S.,” said Hull-Kirk, who started playing golf when she was 12. “We all have such a passion for it out here. We want to be able to share it and let other people experience that same enjoyment. Even if it’s not at the touring professional level, amateur golf, college golf is all fun.”