|Kayla heads to Australia|
Kayla Mortellaro’s first international adventure is going to be one to remember. She’s playing in the 2013 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open – the first stop on this year’s LPGA Tour.
“I’m going to just try to keep playing golf the way I always play golf – one shot at a time,” said Mortellaro, the most successful golfer in University of Idaho history and the first Vandal to earn a playing card on the LPGA Tour. “It’s a golf tournament; just golf. I can’t make it any more than that.”
But … “It’s pretty exciting to be starting in Australia.”
Mortellaro left last Saturday for the Land Down Under with a practice round scheduled for Tuesday and the tournament beginning Thursday – for Mortellaro. If you’re going to be following the Australian Open online, Mortellaro’s tee time is 6:20 p.m. Wednesday in the Pacific Time Zone and 1:20 p.m. Thursday at the Royal Canberra Golf Club.
“There’s not a whole lot of time for adjustment to the time difference,” Mortellaro noted but she’s in the same situation as dozens of other golfers from around the world who will be teeing off in the 157-player event worth $1.2 million.
“This is a completely new experience,” she said. “In an LPGA Tour event, there are going to be some nerves and some unexpected things that happen. I just have to eliminate the distractions and focus on golf.”
That is exactly what Mortellaro needed to do to qualify for the LPGA last fall. After a grueling march to the Tour’s final qualifying tournament, Mortellaro soared to a 79 in her first round of the five-day qualifier before battling back with a 67, two 69s and a 72 to earn her card.
“I tried to make it like it was just golf,” she said. “You couldn’t make it bigger than it was or you wouldn’t be successful.”
She took that mindset and a dogged determination with her to Australia.
“Overall, my game needs to be better,” she said. “It needs to be consistent. That’s the one key to being successful – the consistency within the round, within all four days of the golf tournament, throughout the year as well.”
Mortellaro, whose equipment is sponsored by Ping with her balls and gloves provided by Titleist, knows four rounds aren’t guaranteed. After the first 36 holes, the field is trimmed to the low 70 and ties.
“I’ll either be playing Saturday or Sunday or seeing something of Australia,” she said. “I’d much rather be playing golf.”