Catching up with former Michigan State golfer Laura Kueny, who earned her first professional victory earlier this month at the Symetra Classic at Raintree Country Club in Charlotte, N.C. Her win has helped her rank seventh on the the LPGA Symetra Tour’s money list.
The top 10 individuals on the money list at the end of the season earn their LPGA Tour card.
Kueny was the Big Ten golfer of the year and a second team All-American in 2010.
Q: Thoughts on season so far and how big of a boost was your win earlier this month?
Kueny: My season has been going great so far. I missed a cut my first event, but I really like where my game is right now. I’m striking the ball very well, I’m putting the ball very well. A couple weeks ago everything finally came together and that’s what I’ve been waiting for for three years now. It’s nice putting good rounds together, but to put three consecutive good rounds together was what I’ve been waiting for and what I’ve been working so hard to do.
Q: Ups and downs you’ve faced since turning pro?
Kueny: “As soon as I turned pro, I felt that that’s where I was at the peak of my game. I qualified for the Women’s Open in 2010 at Oakmont Country Club. Unfortunately I injured my wrist at the open but I continued to play and played in two more Symetra events after that. I finally had to call it quits and get my wrist checked out and ended up needing surgery. That kind of set me back a little bit. It’s been quite a grind getting back to where I was before surgery. I’m very thankful. Nobody wants to get injured but I ended up going back to school and getting my degree. To me that was very important to get my degree. I know for coach Stacy that was one of her favorite moments was watching me get my diploma. It’s been up and down since surgery. I’ve turned in some good rounds and I’ve also had some bad rounds. Finally I feel like I’m getting back to where I was before surgery.”
Q: What was the adjustment like getting back to golf after the wrist surgery?
Kueny: “It almost felt like I was starting over, I was starting from square one. I took a year off from competing and I took about eight months off from golf. It was just very weird to get back into that with playing every day and getting back in that competitive mode. My wrist is great now, no problems at all. I still tape it. That’s a mental thing for me. I don’t think I really need to tape but I do it to make myself feel better and more confident when I’m standing over the ball.
Was there ever a time throughout the process you thought about not returning to golf?
Kueny: “I asked myself so many times these past three years if this was what I really wanted to do. I had such high expectations for myself and I think I put a lot of pressure on myself. A lot of other people had expectations and I just wasn’t where I wanted to be and that kind of got me down a little bit. I was very frustrated a lot. I thought about quitting but I’m very thankful that I didn’t. God has a plan for me and this last victory was just what I needed to get that confidence back and that motivation back.”
Q: So the win pretty much made you glad you stuck with golf?
Kueny: “It was kind of God’s way of saying I’m glad you didn’t give up. Here’s your reward. I knew I always had it in me, it was just a matter of time. In golf you just have to be so patient and that’s what I’m learning. I’m just staying patient with myself, letting things happen and not force the issue.”
Q: How close are you to returning to the level you were at at end of college career?
Kueny: “I’m very close. It’s kind of almost scary to be honest. I know how good I can be. Just this last tournament in Asheville (N.C.) I kind of struggled with my first front nine but the last seven holes I made four birdies. It just shows that when I’m on its watch out.
Q: Is the primary goal the rest of the season to remain in the top 10 on the money list so you can earn your LPGA card?
Kueny: I’m just gonna take one tournament at a time. A victory is not a guaranteed spot on the LPGA or a spot in the top 10, but I’m in very good position. I’m heading in the right direction. I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself. There’s still plenty more tournaments left.
Q: How much did your time at MSU prepare you for being a professional?
Kueny: “I’m very fortunate that coach Stacy played professional golf. She obviously knows what it takes to play at that level and win at that level and compete at that level. She just has a way of sharing that information with her players. As you can tell with Caroline (Powers), she improved every year of her four years. Coach gave us drills to do every day. She’s probably one of the best motivational speakers I’ve ever heard. She knows what it takes. When she sees talent she knows. It’s like this person has what it takes. Those are the people she recruits and molds. She shapes them to either be a champion on the golf course or whatever they choose to do the rest of their life.”