A new coach, new caddie, and some timely advice from Hall-Of-Famer Karrie Webb have provided Stephanie Kyriacou with the confidence boost she needed to take a one-stroke lead at the LPGA Tour’s Shoprite LPGA Classic in New Jersey.
A two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, Kyriacou has struggled in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour yet displayed her full array of talents to post six-under 65 at Seaview and lead Sweden’s Frida Kinhult by one.
A three-week break where she linked with Kiwi coach Grant Waite gave Kyriacou something of a fresh start, but the chance to spend time with Webb on the putting green earlier in the week provided insight into the mindset of a major champion.
Playing in just her second LPGA Tour event in almost two years, Webb worked with the 21-year-old and had an immediate effect.
“I kind of just asked what she did when she struggled with nerves in her prime, because you tend to get a bit nervous, like everyone does,” said Kyriacou, whose best result this season to date is a tie for 26th at the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii.
“I just asked how she coped with it, and she gave me a few tips, and it looks like it worked out there.
“She kind of just said between shots to just close your eyes and breathe and listen to birds and stuff.
“Just to get your mind off it. It’s so simple, but it’s very helpful.
“She’s such a legend, and for her to take the time out of her day to play practice rounds with us and just talk to us, it’s so nice.”
Formerly coached by PGA Professionals Gary Barter at The Australian and John Serhan at St Michael’s Golf Club in Sydney, Kyriacou has been without a coach recently, and it was during time spent at the Golf Australia House in Orlando that she reached out to Waite.
With Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit, one of a host of LPGA and PGA TOUR players that Waite has worked with, Kyriacou sought input on how he might help further advance her own game.
“He coaches a few of the LPGA players actually, and he was recommended to me by a couple of my friends, so went and saw him,” said Kyriacou, who was bogey-free in her opening round on Friday.
“I haven’t had a coach for a while now and I really like his philosophy.”
No stranger to winning, Kyriacou is excited by the position she now finds herself in with two rounds left to play.
“First time in contention on the LPGA, so, I mean, definitely be nervous, but I’ll be pretty excited,” she added.
Webb was two-over late in her opening round with Sarah Jane Smith (70), the only other Aussie under par, as the first round neared its conclusion.
There is also a large contingent of Australians contesting the Carolina Classic on the Epson Tour, Robyn Choi, Grace Kim and Gabi Ruffels all in a share of sixth after they each posted scores of 67-68 on the opening two days.