AUSTRALIAN Katherine Kirk, a two-time US LPGA Tour winner and 2009 Ladies Masters champion, admits life on tour has been a struggle over the past 12 to 18 months.
Still, if her form at the RACV Ladies Masters, where she finished as the leading Australian professional in a tie for 17th at one-under par, counts for anything then she is heading in the right direction.
“Last year I probably got too technical and was trying to make perfect golf swings and hit perfect shots,” Kirk told MC Bruce Young at a packed corporate luncheon during the tournament.
“As we all know golf is about how many and not how. I just have to get back to hitting it and not thinking too much – just try and get it in the hole as fast as I can.”
The 34-year-old, who has amassed more than $5.5m since turning professional in 2003, is currently working on positive swing changes.
“I am hoping my best form is still ahead of me although with all these young guns winning at 18, 19 and 20, I will need to get my act together,” laughed Kirk, who finished runner-up to Yani Tseng in the 2010 Women’s British Open.
“It (my game) is heading in the right direction.
“I started with a new swing instructor in November last year in conjunction with my current instructor.
“We are working on a sequence change right now.
“It’s been difficult because I have done things the hard way since I was 12 years old so we are changing 22 years of bad habits.”
A product of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and a graduate of Pepperdine University in the US, Kirk is currently building a house in Wichita, Kansas with husband Tom Kirk.
A golf simulator and net are part of the plans.
Kirk who won the 2009 Ladies Masters – albeit on the “old” course – said she favoured the new-look Graham Marsh-designed golf course at RACV Royal Pines Resort.
“I absolutely love the changes to the golf course,” she said. “It looks like a championship golf course.
“Now you can’t just smash driver off the tee. You have to be far more careful and think about where you hit it to get the best angles into the greens.
“It’s fun and a test because it makes you think.”
Two years ago, Kirk looked a certainty to join former world number one Karrie Webb as the Australian representatives at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
That’s extremely unlikely following a form slump and the rise of West Australian Minjee Lee, who is making every post a winner on the US LPGA Tour.
Asked if golf needed to be an Olympic sport, Kirk gave the only answer possible for someone in her position – a diplomatic one.
“I don’t think it needed to be added to the Olympics because it’s already big enough, but I think there will be some positives that come out of it for golf,” she said.
“If golf gets exposure in countries that haven’t thought about golf and start investing in junior programs then that’s a positive.”