Smith pleased with top 20 finish at Texas Open

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Kate Smith of Detroit Lakes completed an impressive three-day run at the Texas Women's Open finishing tied for 18th overall as the third lowest scoring amateur in a field of top notch talent from the LPGA on down. Photo courtesy NU Communications

In late March, Kate Smith visited with the Tribune in the first of many feature interviews with former Laker standouts and the mood of her story was somber amidst the early unknowns of COVID-19.

Eleven weeks later and her mood has completely flipped after a top 20 finish as the third lowest amateur at the Texas Women’s Open at Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas Thursday, June 4.

Smith competed against a loaded field that included LPGA stars Stacy Lewis, a former world No. 1 golfer, and U.S. Open Women’s champion Brittany Lang, also Cheyenne Knight, who won the LPGA Tour's Volunteers of America Texas Shootout.

Four past winners were also in the field: two-time champion Savannah Vilaubi (2016, 2019,) along with 2015 champ Maddie McCrary and Chirapat Jao-Javanil (2017).

Texas All-American Kaitlyn Papp came in as one of the most touted amateurs to watch.


Smith finished two shots better than Papp at 3-over-par for a three-round score of 216 (68-74-74) and a tie for 18th place overall.

“I signed up for the tournament in mid-May and thought it probably won’t happen,” said Smith. “Quickly, it became the only tournament in the country for professionals and amateurs. Everybody that wanted to compete and make some money was there. Texas has some of the best amateur golfers anyway. It was pretty fun.”

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Kate Smith finishes on the 18th hole at the Texas Women's Open Thursday, June 4 in The Colony, Texas. Submitted photo

Smith made a name for herself during Tuesday’s opening round sinking five birdies on her way to a top 3 finish on the leaderboard and a round of 3-under-par 68.

“I was obviously happy with my first round and that gave me a good cushion for the rest of the week,” she said. I’m not super happy shooting over par ever, but I’m seeing players that I watch on TV and have looked up to all my life shooting the same scores and it’s alright.”

The field was cut to the top 50 golfers and ties after two rounds. According to Smith, the course got more difficult as the tournament went on.

“It was playing the easiest the first day,” she said. “They had a huge cut in the field. Typically, when there is a big cut after the first two days they play the course easier to get all the players around. Once they make that cut, they make the course pretty difficult because there are less players and more time to play golf.”


Thursday’s final round was a battle.

“Today was pretty brutal,” Smith said. “Some of the shots that the course called for were big league shots and I pulled off some of them and didn’t pull off others.”

Playing on a big stage with little else going on in the golf world nationally helped validate what Smith is pursuing with her game.

“Overall, as competitors put in situations, you look around and think I don’t know if I belong here,” she said. “That was kind of the theme of the week knowing where my game is at and knowing I can compete with these girls.”

Smith is used to high expectations and this week in Texas was a way for her to get a look at her own insights away from home turf.

“I’ve had so much support and attention in Minnesota and in Detroit Lakes,” she said. “People have been saying I can go professional since I was so young. To me, I’ve been waiting to make sure I can prove myself and see those results. This was definitely a big week to see that come to life. Especially right now as I’m just getting my feet wet in these bigger tournaments.”

Finishing Tuesday’s round in the top four spots and sharing the lead for most birdies (5) was a great start but presented its own challenge in following it up Wednesday.

“You play super well and it’s great but where is the line?” she said. “An hour after you played, do you start getting ready for tomorrow? There are a lot of mental challenges going into another round knowing you played so well. It was really exciting. Golf is just a lot more fun when you’re playing well. I can tell you 95 (degrees) feels a lot better when you shoot 68 compared to 74. You start sweating a little bit more when you’re making bogeys,” Smith laughed.


The strong finish in Texas was the culmination of getting back on the course after having her spring season nipped at Nebraska. In the time since, she has accepted a fifth year of eligibility with the Huskers and jumped right back into her game.

“Once the courses opened I was ready to go,” she said. “I started a new practice routine that was a lot more rigorous than I’ve ever done and it was just really cool to see it pay off and compete again, just getting back in the saddle.”

Playing alongside professionals also provided insight on the course in watching players compete for cash.

“The biggest difference is the girls playing this tournament were trying to make their paycheck for the week, which was really interesting to play with. I played with two professionals today and it’s hard to watch sometimes because you know and they know that means they just lost some money out of their pocket.”

Smith plans to stay with friends in Texas for a couple weeks and is looking forward to another tournament in Florida that is being organized. She plans to play there and return to Minnesota.

Asked whether she plans to give local golfers a charge and golf the Pine to Palm in August at Detroit Country Club, Smith left it open-ended, “To be determined,” she said.

Robert Williams has been a sports editor for Forum Communications in Perham and Detroit Lakes since 2011.
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