Webb seeks eighth title at Australian Masters

Karrie Webb won her seventh Australian Ladies Masters title in 2010.

Karrie Webb won her seventh Australian Ladies Masters title in 2010.

QUEENSLAND, Australia – Can Karrie Webb do it again?

That’s the question on the lips of many this week at the Australian Ladies Masters, which gets under way Thursday at RAVC Royal Pines Resort.

photo

Yani Tseng was victorious again at the Women’s Australian Open at the Commonwealth Golf Club in Melbourne Feb. 6, 2011.

The Queenslander has won the Ladies European Tour event seven times but will she make it No. 8?

“I hope so – it’s always a great feeling to come back here,” Webb said Tuesday. “It’s an even better feeling when I am defending champion.

“Hopefully with the hard work I did this morning, things will iron out pretty quickly, just because I think I have a little bit more confidence.”

Yani Tseng is the biggest threat to the hall of famer’s repeat title hopes.

Tseng rose to No. 2 in the world after her victory at the Women’s Australian Open last week. A win this week could help her achieve her ultimate goal – the No. 1 ranking – even before the LPGA season starts.

LET players to watch this week include England’s Melissa Reid, who finished runner-up to Tseng last week, 2010 Order of Merit winner Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa and England’s Laura Davies, a three-time winner at the Ladies Masters.

A strong American contingent also is at Royal Pines, including Angela Stanford, Stacy Lewis, Amanda Blumenherst and teen Alexis Thompson.

Thompson, who turns 16 on Thursday, is making her first appearance at the Ladies Masters. She turned pro at 14 but is not a member of any tour, instead playing various tournaments around the world on sponsor invites. Last year, she won U.S. $330,000 in prize money. Thompson finished runner-up at the Evian Masters in France and was 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open.

Katherine Hull, along with Webb, leads the Australian contingent. Hull is coming off her most successful year on the LPGA, where she captured her second LPGA title, the Navistar LPGA Classic, and finished runner-up at the Women’s British Open. Nikki Campbell, Kristie Smith, Frances Bondad and Tamie Durdin also will be vying to keep the title in Australian hands.

Information from the Ladies European Tour was used in this report.

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