01/11/2015

The LPGA Tour season starts in only two weeks.

The countdown is on for full-fledged, golf action!

We figured the holidays/off-season was a great time to catch-up with LPGA Tour player (and future star) Kim Kaufman.

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Kaufman has been a stalwart on our coverage of golf for the past few years. Naturally, we are based in Sioux Falls, SD, a place Kim considers to be home base. Her life-long instructor is Todd Kolb, our resident PGA Instructor.

We’ve covered both her first collegiate win and her first win on the Symetra Tour, her #1 ranking in college golf at Texas Tech and even her amateur days playing summer golf tournaments. She’s seen success all along the way.

And no one should be surprised with her early rise on the LPGA Tour.

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Playing on today’s LPGA Tour, means there are a lot players on Tour named Kim. But with the influx of quality players of Asian descent, more times than not, Kim is their last name, not their first.

It potentially gives our Kim, an ice breaker during initial meetings with many of these women.

As for today’s topic, Kim Kaufman, her career truly started taking off in 2014 when she took a risk to play in the North Texas LPGA Shootout in Dallas, Texas toward the end of April.

Before the season started, she structured her goals around achieving her 2015 LPGA Tour card via 2014 Symetra Tour points. When the phone call came to her agent for a chance to play in Dallas, she had to make a decision– a calculated risk. Abandon the game plan for a shot to play with the top players in the game or stay focused on the Symetra Tour.

At the end of the day, her main objective was to get her 2015 LPGA Tour card, no matter the means. She assumed this opportunity gave her the chance to earn her card a few different ways. So she played in Dallas.

After rounds of 72, 66, 68 and 70, Kim had finished in a T4, sparking her ascension in the ladies ranks– while earning a nice little paycheck. The phenomenal finish was the catalyst for accomplishing her most noted goal.

“I’m most proud of getting my Tour card for 2015,” Kim said reflecting. “I was going to play all Symetra Tour events and when I started getting some opportunities, I took advantage. But getting my card was my top goal.”

On the topic of goals, Kim has already started setting her goals for 2015.

“I want to win an event now,” stated Kim confidently. “I have goals for qualifying for some of the team events and obviously, I want to go to Asia again this year. Asia means you’ve played well all season, so all of those are my goals in 2015.”

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But before we look too far ahead, let’s finish the story on Kim’s season past.

She played in her first major championship in 2014, the RICOH Women’s British Open. This was a big week for Kim.

“It was my first trip to Europe, along with being my first major championship,” said a reflective Kaufman.

After rounds of 78 and 76 during The Open at Royal Birkdale, one might be led to believe Kim’s dissatisfaction meant it was a wasted week. Her experience was quite the contrary. It was a learning experience which will propel her in her future on Tour. But it didn’t come without a moment to look back and smile.

“My second practice round was with Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lang and Alison Walshe,” explained Kim. “It was about as nervous as I’d ever been over a first shot, let along a practice round. My first tee shot was terrible during that practice round, I think I hit it 30 yards offline and into the bush!” remembers Kim. ” But I learned so much. After a while, I felt like I belonged.”

Kim was sure to be observant, especially of the number one player in the world, Stacy Lewis. Stacy went about her practice rounds in a way which might be considered to be unique for many amateur golfers in that she rarely hit any putts. She chipped almost exclusively.

“I’m smart enough not to copy what they do, but I definitely learn from them,” said Kim. “Stacy would just chip and get used to the grass around the greens. She would hit all the shots links golf required, and I definitely noticed that.”

She has recently signed an apparel sponsorship with Animo golf. Alongside her Animo apparel contract, Kim has signed with Callaway golf for her equipment and Titleist/Footjoy for her ball and shoe deals. She will also be featuring a Metalloid logo o the side of her sleeve.

Tony’s LPGA Report highlighted Kim’s 2014 season as one of the top surprises all year. Read this report posted at the end of the season.

9- Kim Kaufman – Before the year started, many people wrote in listing their top rookie picks of the year. With so many good rookies, nobody, including myself, had Kim on their list. In spite of not playing the first one third of the season, she had 2 top fives, 3 top tens, and 5 top twenty finishes. With many fewer starts than most players ahead of her, she still managed to finish #58 on the money list.

How about this glowing compliment of Kim’s game back on September 1, 2014? Tony seems to like Kim’ game.

4- Kim Kaufman – Probably the biggest surprise on this entire list based on expectations. Kim earned her card in Q-School this past year, but because she didn’t finish very high had a very poor LPGA Priority Rating. She didn’t get to play the first eight tournaments of the year so she played the Symetra Tour. When she finally got her chance, she sure opened our eyes with a 4th place finish in Texas. She proved that wasn’t a fluke finishing 5th last week in Canada. She is #50 on the LPGA money list in spite of making only 12 starts. Very tall, listed at 6 feet, she looks like she is here to stay.

And Tony is only telling everybody in South Dakota, something we’ve known for years.

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Good luck, Kim! We have a sneaking suspicion 2015 will be your best yet.

Follow Kim on Twitter here! @KimKaufmanGolf


Also, take a look back! Kim sure has come a long way in the last few years: