Kim Kaufman cashes in with Four Winds Invitational victory on Symetra Tour
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — It’s a good thing Kim Kaufman decided not to return home to Fort Worth, Texas, after missing the 36-hole cut by a (...)
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — It’s a good thing Kim Kaufman decided not to return home to Fort Worth, Texas, after missing the 36-hole cut by a shot at the LPGA Tour’s Walmart Northwest Arkansas Championship.
She and husband-caddie Johan Wolkesson would have missed out on a couple of big paychecks.
No one would have blamed the 29-year-old South Dakota native for not playing for a seventh straight week in either an LPGA or Symetra Tour event. Kaufman could have easily driven the 380 miles home from Rogers, Arkansas, two Fridays ago after missing the cut. Instead golfer and caddie decided to drive 670 miles or so northeast to South Bend’s Blackthorn Golf Club, site of the Four Winds Invitational this weekend.
Scores: Four Winds Invitational
It turned out to be a great boost to the family bank account — $32,500 to be exact — after Kaufman two-putted from 80 feet, making an 8-foot par-saving putt on the 18th green Sunday to finish off a 3-under-par round of 69 that gave her an 11-under-par total of 205 and a one-stroke victory over Australia’s Robyn Choi in the LPGA Symetra Tour event.
“I was tired, and I wanted to go home,” said the former Texas Tech All-American after earning the first-place check of $22,500 to leap into the Symetra money lead with $37,232. “But when I got here, I remembered this course from playing here a couple of years ago (in 2013) and I really liked it.”
With her Sweden-born husband carrying her golf bag, helping with yardages, giving her the right clubs and encouraging her when she needed it, Kaufman finished the week with 16 birdies in 54 holes to overcome just five bogeys.
Two came on Sunday at Nos. 8 and 10, dropping Kaufman temporarily behind the hard-charging Choi, a 22-year-old from Australia who played collegiately at Colorado.
The traditional front and back nines at Blackthorn were flipped for the tournament.
Choi, who had six birdies during Sunday’s round that started in rain and ended under sunny and windy skies, had a one-shot lead before she three-putted the par-3 17th hole. One hole behind, Kaufman sank a 15-footer for birdie, and the two-shot swing resulted in a change on the leaderboard that remained until the end.
“I was really just trying to concentrate on the shot ahead of me,” Kaufman said in winning for the third time — she captured the Island Resort Championship during her Symetra rookie season in 2013 and won the Volvik Championship in 2014. “I putted very well which saved me.”
Kaufman made birdie at 11 after the two bogeys and then followed with birdies at Nos. 13 and 16. “I love this golf course and these greens,” Kaufman said.
Additionally, Kaufman earned $10,000 for winning the Potawatomi Cup awarded to the golfer who accrued the most points in two events — the Four Winds Invitational and the FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship in Battle Creek July 24-26 that began Kaufman’s summer travels. Despite the missed cut, Kaufman earned $59,699 for her seven weeks of work.
Meanwhile, Choi finished with a closing 5-under 67 for 10-under 206, two strokes ahead of former University of Georgia player Bailey Tardy, who closed with a tournament-best round of 6-under 66 thanks to two eagles in her final nine holes.
“I thought I had a good chance — I was hitting it well on the range and putting well before we started,” said Choi, who earned $13,978 for second place. Choi missed an 8-footer for birdie at No. 16 and then had a 40-footer for birdie at 17 and ran it past the hole and missed the 10-foot comebacker for par.
“I gained a lot of confidence from today,” Choi said. “I learned how to manage myself and control myself when I’m under pressure.”
Tardy earned $10,174 after driving the par-4 11th green and sinking a 6-foot eagle putt and then chipping in for another eagle from just off the green at par-5 13th.
“I knew the forecast didn’t look that great; I just tried to keep a positive mindset,” Tardy said after opening with birdies at Nos. 4 and 6 on her front nine. Tardy hit a 3-wood from the tee on the 11th that carried bunkers in front of the green and carried onto the green on way to making an eagle 2. Then she hit a pair of 3-woods for her first two shots at 13 and then holed a 30-foot chip for eagle 3.
Two Americans tied for fourth at five-under 211 – Lucy Li, who shot 69, and Samantha Warner, who shot 72. Four player finished at 212, including Cheyenne Woods, the niece of PGA Tour Hall of Famer Tiger Woods, who carded a 3-under 69.