Can Webb make it title five at Aussie
BY Liz White | ALPG Tour | 2009 Women's Australian Open | Preview | 10 Feb 2009
Can Karrie Webb take title number five this week at the Australian Open or will one of the young Aussie girls she hopes will succeed her, break through for their maiden victory.
At just 34, it seems like Webb has been around for longer than that, so dominant and consistent has she been across the globe.
On home soil, the Queenslander has been virtually unbeatable, just ask last year’s Australian Open runner up, Korean world number five Ji Yai Shin.
In a nail-biting playoff, three times the girls headed down the 18th, with the then 19-year-old in a better position off the tee but unable to put Webb to the sword.
The tournament was Shin’s for the taking, a two shot lead on the final day seeming an impossible ask for Webb to breach with just three holes remaining.
But the true champion she is, Webb calmly dialled up birdies on two of her final three holes to force the tournament into a playoff decider.
While the Australian Open has been Webb’s happy trophy hunting ground, the Ladies Masters at Royal Pines has been simply hers.
She has won the title six times in 17 starts and often against top competition, including Annika Sorenstam and Laura Davies.
Webb has made no secret of the fact that she does not wish to retire as Australia’s leading female golfer and if you look at events over the past three weeks it seems she may get her wish.
The first name on everyone’s lips is that of 26-year-old Katherine Hull.
With two second placings already this summer, Hull finally nailed it for a victory and a runaway win it was too, at the weekend’s ANZ Ladies Masters. It catapulted her into the world top 20 rankings.
The five shot win over Tamie Durdin and So-yeon Ryu was Hull’s first major victory in Australia and it was all class.
Since winning the USLPGA Canadian Open in August, Hull has gone from strength to strength, recording nine top ten finishes.
She seems the complete player these days, her win at Royal Pines all business. And it’s because she leaves nothing to chance.
This year she bought her own regular caddy from the US to carry the bags for the four-tournament Australian Ladies Professional Golf Association season, and her personal trainer also made the trip twice Down Under from America.
It’s a stark contrast to the 2008 season when Hull didn’t even have a caddy for the first half of the NSW Open.
By her own admission Hull has not performed to her liking on the local circuit, her recent Masters win aside.
At January’s Women’s NSW Open she gave herself every chance to win but couldn’t bridge the four shot lead that Sarah Oh took into the final day.
The following week at the Women’s New Zealand Open, Hull again found herself chasing Oh to the finish line but as the wind got up, the two leaders were left floundering as the Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera played the more controlled golf to win the inaugural event by a commanding six shots.
While golf fans will be keeping an eye on Hull another one to watch at this week’s Australian Open is Sarah Oh.
In the first two events of the local tour, the 20-year-old has led going into the final day. At the NSW Open she played flawless golf to hold off Katherine Hull, while in New Zealand she was the leader until the 9th hole on the final day.
At the Clearwater Resort in Christchurch, it just wasn’t Oh’s day in the windy conditions, not to mention the sacking of her caddy after 13 holes on the Sunday.
Oh’s Ladies Masters wasn’t what she was hoping for after blowing her chances on the third day with a four over 76. But she showed her ability with a bounce back 6 under par 66 in the final round.
Nikki Garret has also shown some promising signs, finishing T2 at the NZ Open and in T4th at the NSW Open. Sunday’s final round of five under 67 at the Ladies Masters placed her T10th with Anna Rawson.
While the weekend’s ANZ Ladies Masters was the strongest women’s field ever assembled in the country, unfortunately this week’s unsponsored national championship is one of our weakest.
The leading European players will be competing as the event is co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour but regrettably last year’s runner up, Ji Yai Shin is a no show. Many of the world’s leading players will compete in the USLPGA event in Hawaii instead.
Of the visiting internationals, the incredibly talented Gwladys Nocera is the headline act. Her come from behind victory at the New Zealand Open was very impressive. This is the European number one’s seventh trip to Australia and she is keen to finally win a title Down Under.
With her ball striking ability this week might just be hers.