Photograph courtesy of Golf NSW
Australian Sarah Kemp has topped off a fantastic 2019 ALPG Tour season, fulfilling a career goal to claim her first ALPG Order of Merit crown.
The 33-year-old, with one of the sweetest and technically sound golf swings in the women's game, started off her 2019 season at the ALPG Ballarat Icons Pro-am in the first week of February, with no advance warning of the fireworks to follow beginning her 2019 season with a tie for 42nd place.
From Ballarat Kemp headed down to 13th Beach for the ISPS Handa Vic Open, knowing that she had a great opportunity if she were to play well there, or at the other LPGA co-sanctioned event on the ALPG Tour in 2019, the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open.
The Forster, NSW native had lost her LPGA Tour status at the end of 2017 after a decade of competing against the best players in the world, and instead focused mainly on the Ladies European Tour in 2018 finishing fifth on the Order of Merit.
In the limited starts Kemp gained in LPGA events in 2018, she could finish no better than 158th on the 2018 LPGA Money List, meaning that unless she could make some significant prizemoney in the first two LPGA events her starts on the US Tour in 2019 would be very limited.
While Kemp was clearly under the pump heading into the ISPS Handa Vic Open she felt that things were turning around, her confidence had been boosted by a number of solid finishes on the LET in 2018 and she knew that her game was in good shape heading into 2019. There was everything to play for.
Kemp started the week at the Vic Open in solid fashion shooting 70 and 71 in her first two rounds to be well placed, however a disappointing third round 77 in difficult conditions meant she spent much of the afternoon thinking she may be heading over to Adelaide early.
However, a twist of fate saw Kemp sneak in to make the third round cut right on the number, and as they say, the rest is history.
Kemp starting her final round at 7:54am, some four and a half hours before the final group had teed off, storming home with a scintillating Sunday 65 to finish in a tie for second place, taking home a cheque for just over $AUD105,000
This valuable finish meant that the affable New South Welshwoman would not only be guaranteed a start in almost every event following the next “reshuffle” up the LPGA Tour categories in May, she had also assured her LPGA Tour card for 2020.
Kemp said the following week in Adelaide,
“Last week, it feels like I won. I've had such a nice reception from absolutely everybody. I took all of Monday off. I was absolutely buggered emotionally – which is obviously a fantastic problem to have. I'm absolutely thrilled about where I am. If I can just stay where I am in the headspace, it should be a good year.”
Kemp was not about to waste another opportunity at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at The Grange Golf Club, and followed up her second-place finish with another top 10 placing.
In two short weeks, Kemp's golfing world had changed almost immeasurably.
At the other three major ALPG tournaments to follow in 2019 Kemp played solidly, finishing tied 37th at the Pacific Bay Resort Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville Golf Club, tied for 14th place at the ActewAGL Canberra Classic at Royal Canberra Golf Club, and tied for 31st at the NSW Women's Open in Queanbeyan.
While Kemp was still buzzing about her early season success it was clear to many that the pressure of those two weeks had taken its toll on the 33-year-old.
Some players would have chosen to withdraw from these events given similar circumstances, but that is not Kemp's style and she soldiered through fulfilling every obligation and interview request thrown at her.
Along the way Kemp also captured her 12th ALPG Pro-am title taking out the Aoyuan International Moss Vale Pro-am, which was held in between the Canberra Classic and the NSW Open, once again highlighting her commitment and support for her home tour.
Kemp will no doubt be counting down the weeks until she gets to once again join her great mates and fellow Aussies Karrie Webb, Katherine Kirk, Sarah Jane Smith, Hannah Green, Minjee Lee and Su Oh on the LPGA Tour in 2019.
Kemp's next outing will be at the first major championship on the women's calendar, the ANA Inspiration held the first week in April.
It would be no shock to see the surname Kemp pop up on this or other LPGA leaderboards during the year.