It’s Kaitlyn Papp’s first time in this part of Europe. Papp said she was expecting the typical Northern Irish summer cold and rainy weather, but instead was surprised by the “heat wave” that’s enveloped both the Galgorm and Massereene courses at the at ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics. “I was packed for all possibilities,” joked the 24-year-old. A welcome surprise it was, as the 2022 LPGA Tour rookie took advantage of sunny conditions and recorded a 4-under 69 at Galgorm to sit in a tie for sixth with seven other players.
Papp has been working on “cleaning up a few things,” most importantly her swing and putting, in preparation for the final leg of the Tour’s European swing. The University of Texas alum had a rocky start to her first nine holes, flip flopping between birdies (four) and bogeys (four) along with a singular par on No. 12. She jumpstarted her round after the turn, carding birdies in four of her next five holes, and finished off the day bogey-birdie on Nos. 8 and 9 to put a cap on a rollercoaster of a round.
“I think my putting was really strong today. My first nine, on the back nine I didn't really hit it great off the tee, but just tried to stay really patient and just remember that it's just the start of the tournament, we're not finishing today,” said Papp, who only hit five of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens in regulation. “So I think that kept me in it. I knew I had some good swings in me and my putter just kept me alive and allowed me to score.”
Papp, who is making her 11th start this season and 15th LPGA Tour appearance of her career, was waiting for a round like this to come together. Papp has only recorded now seven rounds in the 60s in 2022 to kick off her rookie career including Thursday’s 18 holes, with her season-best score a 67, recorded twice at the JTBC Classic. Her season-best result came back in June, a tie for 42nd at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, and has yet to make a cut since the Meijer LPGA Classic. She hopes the work she’s done, especially on her mental game, can continue through the week after a breakthrough first day in Northern Ireland.
“Rookie year has been good. Definitely a learning curve, and just trying to learn a lot about the tour itself and then me personally,” said Papp. “I feel like I've done a lot of work on my mental game and just try to take what do I in the practice rounds into the tournament round and just stay calm and more patient with myself.