By Kristie Smith
Firstly thank you so much to everyone who has sent me a message of congratulations. It's an amazing feeling to be back in the winners circle again!My phone, emails, Twitter & Facebook haven't stopped. It is such a wonderful feeling!
This win was huge for me in so many ways. Not just the fact it moved me to #5 on the Symetra Tour moneylist but a confidence booster and a sign that all this extra hard work IS actually working.
The last year for me hasn't exactly been the best of years. It's been 'struggle central' with injuries, the fight with my anxiety, the inconsistency & missing most cuts by just 1 shot & then the constant battle in my head with "am I doing the right thing? Do I really want to have this life of a professional golfer?".
Last week was big! It proved to myself I've still got it. The ability to win & the drive to make it happen. I can't thank my unbelievable support crew enough. You guys are amazing and have stuck by me through the good times and the bad.
The Tate & Lyle Championship was played at Hickory Point Golf Club in a small town just 3 hours south of Chicago called Decatur. I stayed with a wonderful host family (The Taylors) for the week who looked after us like we were their daughters. Royalty treatment! I knew from the first second I saw the golf course that I was going to play well that week. It suited my eye & my game is getting more & more solid with the consistency of playing tournament golf again.
I had a good 3 months away from the game back in March-May to reassess things. I am working hard on my head with my mind coach Sean Lynch, who full credit to him, has helped me to get my mind back in a better place each and every day.
I worked hard on my body with my trainer John Polley & physiotherapist Martin McInnes to get stronger, fitter and injury free. It was also great to spend some quality time with my swing coach Ian Triggs. Not to mention to be able to spend 3 months at home with my family and friends was amazing!!
The week really couldn't have gone any better. As I've learnt from past wins, sometimes everything just falls into place some weeks and you just know that trophy is going to be yours come Sunday afternoon. I had a friend (Ray Kim) who is Tiffany Joh's professional caddy on the LPGA come caddy for me for the week. We gelled from the moment he picked up my bag in the car park on Tuesday morning. He had this unbelievable way of making me feel so relaxed & calm yet still so focused and determined.
The course played tough the first 2 days. It was hard and fast due to the lack of rain in the area. It reminded me of playing in Melbourne. Landing it on the front of the greens & allowing for the roll.
I had a lot of wedges in that week which was a huge advantage to get it near the pins. I shot a 3 under 69 the first round with zero bogeys and a 68 the second round with zero bogeys.
A huge storm came in on Saturday over night & the course played unbelievably different on Sunday.
It was a lot softer and you could attack the pins more. I was tied for the lead with two other girls (Leah Wigger and Therese Koelbaek) on 7 under going into the last round on Sunday.
It came down to a neck & neck battle between Leah & I & I was lucky enough to just have that edge on her all day from my birdie on the 2nd hole. I hit it to a couple inches on 14 & then holed a 10 footer for birdie on 15 to get 3 shots ahead with 3 to play and with the pressure off on the last we both finished in style with a birdie each.
I finished with a round of 6 under 66, tied the tournament score record & for the first time in my career went 54 holes without a bogey. It was such an amazing achievement personally as I've been working so hard on my focus/anxiety/confidence issues. This just proves how good my focus really was last week & when I put my head down to it I really can achieve anything I want too achieve.
I'm home in Palm Beach, Florida having a lovely week off & will be heading to Harris, Michigan on Tuesday for our next event on the Symetra Tour. You can follow us online at www.lpgafuturestour.com & you can follow me personally on my Twitter account @nikegolfchick
Kristie Smith is a former National Squad member and current member of Golf Australia's Rookie Professional Program.