July 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Ekey close to her dream

Brad Bournival
The Gazette
SHARON TWP. — Kathleen Ekey would love to dare to dream, but right now the Sharon Township resident is too busy playing great golf to think about the future.
Just 73 days separate the 2005 Walsh Jesuit graduate from a LPGA Tour card.
If Ekey, who currently ranks second on the money list of the LPGA Futures Tour, can stay in the top five, she’ll earn a full exemption for 2012. If she stays in the top 10, she’ll have a limited exemption.
But that’s light years away, according to the two-time All-Southeastern Conference first team selection from the University of Alabama.
“You can not under any circumstances get ahead of yourself or you’re digging your own grave,” said Ekey, who is playing in this weekend’s South Shore Championship in Crown Point, Ind. “We still have eight tournaments left. There’s still work to be done.
“It’s a great feeling and really rewarding to see all the hard work paying off. But there’s still a lot of golf to play. I’m not one of those people that gets really high. In fact, I get low at times.”
So do Ekey’s scores as the 2011 season shows. She’s finished in the top 10 in five of eight tournaments and counts a win at the Ladies Titan Challenge in the first week of June.
Her $40,136 in earnings this year is just $2,453 behind current leader Lisa Ferrero and $18,823 ahead of the sixth-place spot. But with tournaments top-heavy in purse earnings, that could change fast.
What isn’t changing is some lights-out golf by Ekey.
Her 71.870 scoring average ranks third on the Tour and she ranks first in greens in regulation (0.797), total birdies (76) and eagles (4).
“There really hasn’t been any difference in my swing,” Ekey said. “I’ve just made some putts and a lot more birdies.
“My game is really in a good place right now. Everything is working together. I’ve been hitting it well and getting up and down. It’s just the little things in every round, the details that have made a difference this year.”
The little things came to a head last week in the final round of the Island Resorts Championship at Harris, Mich.
Tied for 25th to start the day, Ekey fired the low round of the day — a five-under par 67 — to finish tied for fourth.
That round included an eagle on No. 9 where she stuck an approach shot from 222 yards to 10 feet.
“I knew the Sunday round had to be something special,” Ekey said. “I said, ‘Go out there and make a couple birdies and make things interesting.’
“That was a good learning experience. The more you give yourself the opportunity for those experiences, the better you become.”
That’s what Ekey is taking into this week, though her competitive drive is pushing her even more.
While solidly in the No. 2 spot on the money list, the fact Ferrero is ahead of her is the motivating factor.
“If I wanted No. 2, I would quit playing golf,” Ekey said. “Yeah, you can say as long as I’m top five I’m fine, but if there is ever a day I would say, ‘I don’t want to be No. 1,’ there’s no point in continuing to play.
“What’s important is the top five at the end of year. That’s very important to me. When you put yourself in position to be in the top 10, you put yourself in position to win a golf tournament.”
For now, Ekey, who has played in two U.S Opens, will stick to the plan and hope for the best.
“I’ve positioned myself well, but that’s all it is,” she said. “It’s a great feeling to know I’ve worked hard to get myself there, but you have to stick to your goals and see where it takes it you. I feel like everything is starting to fall in place.”
Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.