Golf Australia

Seven-year drought over as Kirk wins

Katherine Kirk
Katherine Kirk poses with the championship trophy after winning the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.

Katherine Kirk is an LPGA Tour winner again for the first time since 2010, rolling in a three-metre birdie putt at the 72nd hole to win the Thornberry Classic.

Queenslander Kirk, 35, won the tournament in Oneida, Wisconsin when she completed a pressure-packed final round  with a two-under par 70 today.

But it was close and tense, and Kirk was tearful at the end after breaking her seven-year drought in America. At 22-under, she won by a shot from South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai.

She had started the final day with a four-shot lead, and even had a two-shot buffer with two holes to play. But a brilliant, closing 63 by South Korea’s Sei Young Kim put her under pressure, and a bogey from the left bunker at the par-three 17th only increased the issues for the woman from the Sunshine Coast who has spent 14 years on the US Tour.

Buhai was the biggest threat, playing in the same group and just a shot back as they stood on the 18th tee.  Undaunted, Kirk stepped up, hitting a gorgeous short iron shot at the par-four 18th hole that might have closed the deal right there. That was until Buhai hit an even better approach, stopping her ball just a metre from the flag.

It meant that Kirk needed to make her birdie putt to avoid a playoff. But having had just 23 putts on Friday and 25 on Saturday, the short stick served her well. The Aussie buried the putt and fist-pumped. Even though Buhai made her birdie to finish outright second, the deal was done.

Kirk’s last win on the US tour was in 2010 and she also won the Canadian Women’s Open in 2008.

“So much hard work and patience,’’ said Kirk afterward. “I had a rough couple of years, ’15 and ’16. I have an amazing team behind me, my husband’s been there. I can’t put it into words, it’s just a great feeling.’’

Kirk never had the auto-pilot that was running for her in the opening three days. She made bogeys at the fourth, 10th and 11th holes and gave ground back to the field on a day when the scoring was low.

 “To be honest, I hit a really low spot around 14 where I said ‘I need something to happen here’, because I was just struggling,’’ she said. “But Ashleigh played great all day, put the pressure on me. Pretty fun finish there, I knew I had to make it.’’


Comments

Posted by Denis 'Doc" Kildare at
12/07/2017 10:51 AM
Great win by a lovely well deserving lady...hope this is the start of a number of wins in the next few years...you have plenty to be proud of with the way you have battled your way to another win...enjoy the fruits of your hard work and perseverance
Posted by Julie Conlon at
12/07/2017 10:08 AM
What a fabulous win Katherine. An amazing consistent short game & that final putt had the neighbours wondering what was happening!! Loved those Royal Pines tournament & what an inspiration you are to young sports people. Enjoy.
Posted by Peter Cnior at
10/07/2017 09:32 PM
Congratulations Katherine, great golf, great finish and great result. Hope your great form continues.
Posted by Jim Falherty at
10/07/2017 09:23 PM
to do something well is so worth while that the sacrifices you make in trying to do it better cannot be described as fool hardy, life is achievements not in years alone. congrats. Oi Oi Oi
Posted by Luke.tierney54@gmail.com at
10/07/2017 05:52 PM
Great down to earth aussie girl well done
Posted by Steve Scott at
10/07/2017 04:42 PM
Congrats on the win. I have watched you since you hit practice balls each day after school at Noosa Tewantin Golf Club. Perseverance has paid off!!
Posted by jenney at
10/07/2017 12:15 PM
Brilliant! Have been following you for a few years. Well done and Congratulations!
Posted by Paul Crain at
10/07/2017 09:05 AM
Absolutely fabulous...true Aussie grit.....what is more impressive is How you have managed yourself throughout the tough times....be proud!

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