01 Feb 2023 | Professional golf |

Kirsten leans on Karrie ahead of European voyage

by Dane Heverin

Kirsten Rudgeley lining up at putt during the TPS Victoria event.
Kirsten Rudgeley lining up at putt during the TPS Victoria event.

Kirsten Rudgeley had to forgo her Karrie Webb scholarship when she turned professional in December, but the seven-time major champion’s mentorship of one of Australian golf’s brightest young talents is far from over.

The 21-year-old received the annual scholarship - which helps fund international playing experiences and includes witnessing a major championship in the flesh with Webb - during the final two years of her stellar amateur career and the pair have formed a close bond.

After the Covid-19 pandemic prevented Rudgeley from spending time with Webb in person during her first scholarship year, she and Caitlin Peirce enjoyed a week at the 2022 KMPG Women’s PGA Championship with the World Golf Hall of Famer.

They have spent a lot more time together since with Webb teeing it up in Rudgeley’s professional debut at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open, and they also featured in the same field at last week’s TPS Victoria event.

The West Australian is headed to the Ladies European Tour (LET) next month and she took her chance at Rosebud Country Club to seek out some more Webb wisdom.

“It’s my first time on a tour so I want to just take everything in, follow the right processes and just enjoy it,” Rudgeley said.

“I’ve been talking to Karrie a little bit, especially at the last event. She’s been good to find some information out of.”

A key part of that fact-finding mission has been an emphasis placed on spending time with other Australians while overseas to help ease the burden of homesickness.

Rudgeley is already locked in to travel with 22-year-old Victorian Gabi Ruffels - who also earned her card at the Tour’s Qualifying School in December after plying her trade on the Epson Tour last year – so with that box ticked, she has her eyes sight another: a maiden professional victory.

Before Rudgeley jets off to South Africa for her LET debut as a member at the Joburg Ladies Open in March, she will have two opportunities to do so on home soil - at TPS Murray River and the Vic Open.

This week in Cobram Barooga she is also looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow Mount Lawley member Hannah Green who became the first woman to win a 72-hole mixed gender professional event anywhere in the world in this event last year.

“I love life as a pro. To be honest nothing has really changed. I’m still playing the same golf and going through the same processes,” Rudgeley said.

“It’d be a great event to win. First professional win, it would be good fun to have one next to Greeny.”

After the Vic Open, Rudgeley will return to Perth for ten days of down time before commencing her new journey which presents some unknowns following the LET’s South African swing.

“I leave Perth in late February to go to Johannesburg and then Cape Town which I’m really excited for. After that we’ll see what happens with the schedule,” she said.

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