14 Dec 2021 | Professional golf |
'I can't believe it's over': Kyriacou reflects on life-changing 2021
by PGA of Australia
By Tony Webeck
Anxiousness. Relief. A surge of adrenaline. The inevitable onset of exhaustion.
This is the roller-coaster of emotions that Sydney’s Stephanie Kyriacou has been riding in the 24 hours since securing her 2022 LPGA Tour card alongside fellow Aussies Karis Davidson and Sarah Jane Smith.
Prior to boarding the plane from Atlanta to come home after seven months further establishing herself as one of the rising stars in women’s golf, the 21-year-old spoke of the fear she felt standing over her final approach shot of the eight-round Q-Series, why she feels ready to join the No.1 women’s tour in the world and what is waiting for her at her parents’ home in Sydney.
“I’ve done a lot of online shopping this year,” Kyriacou admitted.
“I can’t even remember a lot of the stuff I’ve ordered. It will be like giving Christmas to myself.
“I just told Mum to put all my packages on my bed.
“There’s four pairs of shoes waiting for me so I’m very excited to try them on.”
In a year in which she played 21 tournaments in 13 different countries after leaving Australia and culminated with an eight-round LPGA Q-Series marathon, Kyriacou could be excused for putting her feet up rather than sliding them into new shoes.
In the space of just 21 months Kyriacou has gone from promising amateur to two-time Ladies European Tour winner, top-75 player in the world and card-carrying member of the LPGA Tour.
Yet it wasn’t until her second shot at Highland Oaks Golf Club’s par-4 18th cleared the water in front of the green on Sunday that Kyriacou exhaled and accepted her newly elevated position in world golf.
“The last hole you hit your second shot over the hazard and the pin was at the front and I was like, Oh my God, just get this one on the green and you’re fine,” said Kyriacou.
“I hit it on the green to about 15 feet and then two-putted. It was a big, big sigh of relief after I holed the little tap-in.
“I was pretty nervous going into the last round.
“I shouldn’t have been but if you have one bad round I could have missed the cut. So it was a bit nerve-wracking but I had a good caddie and that kept my mind off it.”
Her two-week stint in Alabama was Kyriacou’s second visit to the United States in 2021.
As part of the LET’s Aramco Team Series she travelled to New York in October where she led Team Kyriacou to a tie for sixth and saw first-hand the players she will now compete against on a weekly basis.
American superstars Nelly and Jessica Korda and Danielle Kang were all there but Kyriacou is not the type to be intimidated.
“The American tour has obviously got better players than the LET and it’s a stronger field but I think my game’s ready and I think I’m where I need to be,” said Kyriacou.
“It’s going to be scary when I get there but it was nice to see what I’m going up against.”
Midway through the year as she wrestled with her game Kyriacou’s primary thought was to spend a further year on the LET in 2022 and then set her sights on the United States.
But a top-five finish on the Order of Merit made her exempt into the final stage of Q-Series and put an LPGA Tour card within eight solid rounds of being achieved.
It was a marathon at the end of a seven-month odyssey that at times felt like it would never end yet at its completion has passed by in an instant.
“I actually can’t believe it’s over. It’s gone so quick,” Kyriacou added.
“I remember the day that I was leaving so clearly. So clearly. So it’s weird to actually be going home. I forget what home looks like.
“I’ve still got adrenaline running through me. I just got my card and now I get to go home. I’m still on this massive high.
“I haven’t been home in seven months and I woke up so early this morning because I’m too excited to get home.
“I’m still on a high but I’m sure once I get home and see everyone I’ll crash.”
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