Sarah Kemp’s form surge in 2021 gives her a strong shot at the trophy named in honour of friend Karrie Webb at the WPGA Championship at Royal Queensland this week.
Whoever holds aloft the eponymous Cup for the first time on Sunday will have a personal story to tell after this new women’s tournament is run side-by-side with the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship.
Australia’s greatest female golfer has inspired, helped, sponsored with a scholarship or been a confidante to nearly all of the 24 women golfers in the field.
Kemp, 36, certainly feels the special connection playing for a trophy named after Webb.
“Webbie is awesome. When I was growing up, she was World No.1. I remember getting my LPGA Tour card and she was one of the first people to email me,” Kemp said.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have a pretty good relationship and we have a few Queensland-NSW bets throughout the year that embarrass myself and embarrass her which is good.
RIGHT: Kemp is clearly enjoying her time at home before heading back to the LPGA Tour. PHOTO: PGA Tour of Australasia.
“It’s great to be playing for a trophy that’s got her name on it. I’d love to win.”
Before the 2014 Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines, Webb had to cope with a blue, black and white Cronulla jersey rash for nine practice holes with Kemp.
Kemp’s Cronulla Sharks had beaten Webb’s North Queensland Cowboys in the NRL finals a few months earlier so there was a bet to be squared up.
Kemp made a pleasing resurgence in 2021. She started last year with a strong joint fifth at the Gainbridge LPGA tournament in Florida where the only four golfers ahead of her were major winners.
Two further top-10s and her best-ever finish in a major, when 19th behind winner Minjee Lee, at the Evian Championship in France, were big positives.
“There’s no better way to start the year than this tournament, especially playing at home. It’s absolutely perfect,” Kemp said.
“My coach is here so he can see where my game is at before I head over to the States.”
Kemp believes her most productive years on the LPGA Tour can still be ahead of her after more than a decade in the U.S.
“It’s great to be playing for a trophy that’s got her name on it. I’d love to win.” - Sarah Kemp.
“I finished second on the LPGA and third, fourth, whatever. It would be awesome to get a win but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself,” she said.
“I had my best year last year. I had a really good chat with Brad Kennedy yesterday. He’s 47 now and he talks about his last 10 years being the best of his career. So, I nailed him down and got some nuggets to take through my next 10 years.”
Kemp is excited that top female players Su Oh, Steph Kyriacou and co. will partner with the men through the four rounds at Royal Queensland.
“The Vic Open has been my favourite tournament ever. It’s so cool playing along with the guys, practicing with them and just hitting balls next to them on the range,” she said.
“I played junior golf and amateur golf with a lot of the boys and I haven’t seen them in 10, 15 years so it’s nice to catch up. I hope we get more mixed events like this.
“There’s no mindset change in these events with how the men play the course versus how the girls do. I’m still playing against the girls.”