See Young Kim

See Young Kim is pictured on Friday during the second round of the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.

There aren't many stops Katherine Kirk makes on the LPGA Tour where getting smudged comes with the territory of being a former champion.

The Native American custom of a cleansing smoke bath designed to purify the body, aura, energy, ceremonial/ritual space or any other space and personal articles. For Kirk, it's just one way the Australian knows she is back in the Green Bay area, where she won the inaugural Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in 2017.

"The media day I got to do last month was pretty special," Kirk told reporters Wednesday at Thornberry Creek at Oneida on the eve of the third annual tournament that brings some of the world's top women golfers and celebrates the heritage of the Oneida Nation, the tournament sponsor. "We visited The Elder Community Center, ... and also some veterans, and I got smudged. That was very unique and certainly honored to be a part of that.

"But I think obviously the sense of culture and respect amongst the Oneida Nation is really impressive. Obviously, we (have) a lot of countries and cultures represented on tour. I think the more awareness that you have about other cultures and countries, the more we can kind of raise tolerance and respect and appreciation."

When it comes to respect and appreciation, however, few on the LPGA Tour have garnered more than defending champion Sei Young Kim for the work she did last year in re-writing the LPGA record book with her 31-under-par 257 total that gave her a nine-stroke victory over Carlota Ciganda.

"Last year, I was focused on what I have to do, and then very calm even (if) I made a lot of birdie," Kim told reporters Tuesday. "Before that round if I make the birdie (I'd get) little (too) excited or if I make the bogey (I'd get) pretty upset. But I try to control my emotion last year and that works."

Count Kirk among those who were impressed at the results.

Meanwhile, Kirk acknowledged that in its two short years on the schedule, the Thornberry event has become known among LPGA players for the large numbers of birdies it yields.

"Yeah, that was fun to watch," said Kirk, who was admittedly proud of how deep she took it in 2017 when she won with a 22-under 266 total. "I don't think really anyone had a chance of catching her on Sunday. She was just in this whole other zone and put on an absolute clinic.

"I mean, records, obviously we're used to seeing them broken, but I don't think anyone expected her to totally smash them. ... Full credit to her. She played great. I'm sure we'll see some really low scores this week, too."

As much rain as the region has received thus far in 2019 and as soft as the golf course figures to play, that remains to be seen.

Kim, who has been battling back problems since winning last year, said she has noticed during practice rounds that she's not getting as much runout off the tee as she did a year ago and could be hitting longer irons into greens. Kirk, however, sees a course ripe for low scores and wouldn't be surprised to see someone in the 144-player field take a run at Kim's mark again this year.

"Maybe a 59 watch; (you) never know," said Kirk, who is coming off her first top-25 showing — a tie for 18th — at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. "That would be kind of exciting. (The) golf course is in great shape, the weather looks good, so there will be plenty of birdies out there."

At the same time, Kirk knows this tournament will celebrate much more than its leaderboard.

"(I) feel like the Oneida Nation has really embraced the tournament and the LPGA," she said. "It's certainly made me feel really special, and it's been nice to come back and do media day and see everyone again and see what kind of changes are going on in the community and learn a bit more about the culture up here, how they promote women and what they're doing with the indigenous youth. It's just a really unique testimony from at that angle.

"It's been fun to kind of watch that grow and just be a part of it."

LPGA: 2019 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic | Thursday's first-round pairings

TEE GROUP TIME Players
1 1 7:30 AM Muni He
7:30 AM Pavarisa Yoktuan
10 2 7:30 AM Louise Stahle
7:30 AM Gemma Dryburgh
7:30 AM Aditi Ashok
1 3 7:41 AM Laetitia Beck
7:41 AM Jaclyn Lee
7:41 AM Min Lee
10 4 7:41 AM Sandra Gal
7:41 AM Robyn Choi
7:41 AM Dottie Ardina
1 5 7:52 AM Luna Sobron Galmes
7:52 AM Louise Ridderstrom
7:52 AM Katherine Perry
10 6 7:52 AM Lee Lopez
7:52 AM Brittany Marchand
7:52 AM Dori Carter
1 7 8:03 AM Kristy McPherson
8:03 AM Suzuka Yamaguchi
8:03 AM Jimin Kang
10 8 8:03 AM Jeong Eun Lee
8:03 AM Karen Chung
8:03 AM Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras
1 9 8:14 AM Georgia Hall
8:14 AM Mi Jung Hur
8:14 AM Sakura Yokomine
10 10 8:14 AM Ariya Jutanugarn
8:14 AM Sei Young Kim
8:14 AM Caroline Masson
1 11 8:25 AM Anna Nordqvist
8:25 AM Celine Boutier
8:25 AM Jeongeun Lee6
10 12 8:25 AM Chella Choi
8:25 AM Pornanong Phatlum
8:25 AM Moriya Jutanugarn
1 13 8:36 AM Jodi Ewart Shadoff
8:36 AM Madelene Sagstrom
8:36 AM Sung Hyun Park
10 14 8:36 AM Na Yeon Choi
8:36 AM Megan Khang
8:36 AM Katherine Kirk
1 15 8:47 AM Nanna Koerstz Madsen
8:47 AM Shanshan Feng
8:47 AM Amy Yang
10 16 8:47 AM Eun-Hee Ji
8:47 AM Yu Liu
8:47 AM Daniela Darquea
1 17 8:58 AM Mariajo Uribe
8:58 AM Tiffany Chan
8:58 AM Celine Herbin
10 18 8:58 AM Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong
8:58 AM Anne Van Dam
8:58 AM Lee-Anne Pace
1 19 9:09 AM Dana Finkelstein
9:09 AM Youngin Chun
9:09 AM Sarah Burnham
10 20 9:09 AM Alison Lee
9:09 AM Clariss Guce
9:09 AM Elizabeth Szokol
1 21 9:20 AM Simin Feng
9:20 AM Erynne Lee
9:20 AM Kim Williams
10 22 9:20 AM Amelia Lewis
9:20 AM Sophia Schubert
9:20 AM Stephanie Kono
1 23 9:31 AM Ashli Bunch
9:31 AM Presley Cornelius
9:31 AM Yealimi Noh
10 24 9:31 AM Paula Reto
9:31 AM Olafia Kristinsdottir
9:31 AM Becca Huffer
1 25 12:30 PM Lauren Kim
12:30 PM P.K. Kongkraphan
12:30 PM Kendall Dye
10 26 12:30 PM Ruixin Liu
12:30 PM Cindy LaCrosse
12:30 PM Lilia Vu
1 27 12:41 PM Peiyun Chien
12:41 PM Hee Young Park
12:41 PM Lindsey Weaver
10 28 12:41 PM Laura Gonzalez Escallon
12:41 PM Julieta Granada
12:41 PM Christina Kim
1 29 12:52 PM Isi Gabsa
12:52 PM Stephanie Meadow
12:52 PM Brianna Do
10 30 12:52 PM Mina Harigae
12:52 PM Cheyenne Woods
12:52 PM Alana Uriell
1 31 1:03 PM Cheyenne Knight
1:03 PM Sophia Popov
1:03 PM Ayako Uehara
10 32 1:03 PM Jane Park
1:03 PM Karine Icher
1:03 PM Giulia Molinaro
1 33 1:14 PM Marina Alex
1:14 PM Jasmine Suwannapura
1:14 PM Lauren Stephenson
10 34 1:14 PM Nicole Broch Larsen
1:14 PM Alena Sharp
1:14 PM Charlotte Thomas
1 35 1:25 PM Jennifer Song
1:25 PM Ally McDonald
1:25 PM Carlota Ciganda
10 36 1:25 PM Ashleigh Buhai
1:25 PM Mi Hyang Lee
1:25 PM Wei-Ling Hsu
1 37 1:36 PM Maria Torres
1:36 PM Hyo Joo Kim
1:36 PM Kristen Gillman
10 38 1:36 PM Jing Yan
1:36 PM Gaby Lopez
1:36 PM Mariah Stackhouse
1 39 1:47 PM Austin Ernst
1:47 PM Ryann O'Toole
1:47 PM Amy Olson
10 40 1:47 PM Lindy Duncan
1:47 PM Pajaree Anannarukarn
1:47 PM Nasa Hataoka
1 41 1:58 PM Jennifer Kupcho
1:58 PM Emma Talley
1:58 PM Brittany Lang
10 42 1:58 PM Dani Holmqvist
1:58 PM Cydney Clanton
1:58 PM Jenny Haglund
1 43 2:09 PM Wichanee Meechai
2:09 PM Tiffany Joh
2:09 PM Kim Kaufman
10 44 2:09 PM Natalie Gulbis
2:09 PM Maia Schechter
2:09 PM Rachel Rohanna
1 45 2:20 PM Maddie McCrary
2:20 PM Alexa Pano
2:20 PM Mind Muangkhumsakul
10 46 2:20 PM Kelly Tan
2:20 PM Emily Kristine Pedersen
2:20 PM Patty Tavatanakit
1 47 2:31 PM Gabby Lemieux
2:31 PM Brooke Pancake
2:31 PM Daniela Iacobelli

rob@killarneygolfmedia.com

Rob started covering the Wisconsin golf scene in 1987 at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison & has been the only reporter covering all levels of state golf. He joined Killarney Golf Media in Sept. 2015 & helped launch Wisconsin.Golf in Jan. 2016.