Golf: Chadwick ponders teeing up pro career

By Anendra Singh


You see, therein lies the dilemma facing Kate Chadwick as she finds herself at the crossroads of a promising career on the man-made Garden of Eden.

"I'm enjoying nursing. Actually I'm loving it so that's the problem," says Chadwick after her maiden foray into the cutthroat world of professional golf in Christchurch last week.

With father Fred Chadwick lugging the bag and mother Llesley and brother Sam in the gallery, the 20-year-old carded 78 and 81 on the par-72 Clearwater golf course in two rounds among a predominantly elite field of 144 during the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women's Open.

The Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay top seed intended to fleetingly get a gauge on what the demands would be on the professional circuit after claiming a wildcard to the Open by virtue of having won the New Zealand Maori Matchplay title in Taupo last month.

It is her third NZ Maori title in four years, having lost it in the second year.

With studies her priority in the past three years, Chadwick had shelved any childhood dreams about turning professional while swotting at the Eastern Institute of Technology.

Without doubt the Clearwater experience has rekindled her flame but whether there's enough sparks to persuade her to put her nursing career on the backburner to take a giant leap of faith into taming fairways to eke out a living remains to be seen.

"It's quite stressful to think about," says the Napier Golf Club amateur.

"Dad thinks I can do it. I mean, I never thought I'd be good enough."

She will be the first to admit that many people looking from outside will wonder what she's rabbiting on about, having shot 159 to miss the cut going into the business end of the Open which New Zealand amateur sensation Lydia Ko won on Sunday.

The prudent golf followers will no doubt put Chadwick's scores in perspective.

Firstly, in her group of three were Korean professional Joo Ga Eun and Australian professional Jana Welsford.

The Bay scratchie, who had never played at Clearwater leading into the Open, beat Ga Eun and Welsford in both rounds.

"The Korean didn't even make the first cut and I beat the Aussie by one short in the first round and by two the following day," Chadwick says.

Ga Eun didn't say much while Welsford spoke with her on the first day but didn't engage much in round two.

Chadwick reckons it was probably on account of trying to focus on her game more in round two in trying to make the cut.

It interests the amateur that Welsford, a school teacher who made some money working in her profession before turning professional, still works part-time in schools when not competing.

Chadwick is toying with the idea of emulating Welsford before giving it her all on the professional golf circuit.

Following in her mother's footsteps as a nurse at the Hawke's Bay Hospital, where she only started a fortnight ago, the former Napier Girls' High School pupil hasn't chewed the fat with Llesley Chadwick yet but suspects she'll support her if she chooses to employ her golfing prowess to pay the mundane monthly bills.

Having missed the cut on Saturday, Chadwick fulfilled her dream of following her idol, English professional Laura Davies, for the remainder of the Open.

The meeting, if you can call it that, was brief after Davies acknowledged her at a hole.

"She must have found out I was there. She said, 'Hello, so you're not working today?'

"I didn't know what she meant at the time because I wondered whether she meant I should be practising or whether she was referring to my nursing work."

Chadwick grabbed her opportunity for a quick photo after a round on Sunday at the clubhouse where Davies also autographed her cap and, like the Korean and Australian professionals in the first two rounds, wasn't very chirpy.

"She wasn't playing very well. You could tell that by her body language," she says of the 2010 NZ Open champion.

Chadwick played well in round two but feels she blew out to 81 in two holes where she carded triple and double bogeys.

"One shot, for instance, just rolled off the green to the back and out of bounds."

The course proved hard to reel back birdies but Chadwick reckons if she sharpens her game with the help of a professional and allaoctes more time, anything is possible.

She doesn't expect her drive to waver with partner Andre Smith also backing her ambitions.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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