Kim Kaufman first set her sights on the LPGA Tour as a junior at Texas Tech University two years ago. It took some encouraging words from the assistant coach, Emily Kuhfeld, to realize the potential she really had.
“I don’t think she really realizes how much of an impact she had on me,” said Kaufman. “She’s really the reason why I started believing this could really happen for me.”
The Lady Red Raider’s recruited Kaufman after she captured her fourth state championship win while at Clark High School. While it didn’t take until her senior year to make an impact on the team, Kaufman says her ascension to professional golf was the perfect pace.
“I think I always flew a little bit under the radar,” said Kaufman. “It’s been a steady progression and I’ve always gotten better every year. So it’s important that I keep doing that because I don’t want to peak where I’m at right now.”
With a victory and more than 15 top-10 finishes, Kaufman was the No. 1 collegiate golfer in the country as a senior at Texas Tech in 2012, according to GolfWeek’s rankings. It was exactly what she needed to get Symetra Tour status after graduating in May.
It didn’t take quite as long for Kaufman to make the same statement on the Road to the LPGA, notching her first top-10 finish at her debut at the Decatur-Forsyth Classic and earned her first professional victory two tournaments later at the Island Resort Championship in Harris, Mich.
The win propelled her into the top-10 of the Volvik Race for the Card and gave her the highest hopes for earning her LPGA Tour card at the end of the season.
“I look back and, by far, that week was my best week out there this year,” said Kaufman. “Hopefully it’s one of those things I can really embrace out here, with the same energy and same confidence. I was just so confident that week.”
With two events left to play on the Symetra Tour schedule, Kaufman lost her grip on her position and fell outside the top-10 with a T29 finish at the Volvik Championship
“It was just the worst leaderboard I could have seen for myself as far as rankings,” said Kaufman. “Those girls definitely deserved it but it was tough for me to see all those girls jump me. My swing was definitely getting a little flat. I think I was trying to hang in there but I couldn’t.”
Kaufman ended the 2013 season ranked 12th on the season-ending money list, just two spots shy of earning her 2014 LPGA Tour card.
But thanks to her position, she punched her ticket straight to the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.
With only 20 LPGA Tour cards on the line this week, Kaufman admits it’s tough not to get ahead of herself during one of the most pressure-packed events of the season for LPGA Tour hopefuls.
“If you think about it 24 hours a day, you can have a panic attack,” said Kaufman. “So I’ve been trying to tell myself I couldn’t have prepared more. I’ve been practicing more than I ever have. I would just like to play well and if it’s not good enough then I probably belong on the Symetra Tour again. And that’s ok.”
Through three rounds, Kaufman sits at a tie for 22nd following rounds of 75-70-69. With two more rounds left to play, Kaufman knows whatever the outcome, it’s a win-win situation.
“I don’t want to go on the LPGA Tour because I got lucky and chipped in four times,” said Kaufman. “I want to do it because I deserve to be there. I would look forward to playing a full schedule on the Symetra Tour. Of course, you want to give it everything you have. But at the same time you have to think I have nothing to lose.”
Topics: Symetra Tour