Seven-time winner Karrie Webb held a six-way share of the opening round lead in the A$500,000 (US$500,000) Australian Ladies Masters at the Royal Pines resort on the Gold Coast yesterday.
The prolific Australian fired a 6-under par 66 to be tied for the lead with compatriot Karen Lunn, Spain’s Maria Hernandez, South Korea’s Ji Eun-hee, France’s -Cassandra Kirkland and Diana Luna of Italy.
World No. 2 Yani Tseng of Taiwan was leading a chasing pack of seven players, just one shot back at 5-under 67.
Webb, 36, has a chance to extend her record of seven Australian Masters titles and move further ahead of fellow Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam, who took out her Swedish national title six times -between 1997 and 2006.
“A few poor iron swings cost me a few bogeys,” Webb said. “It was a bit of a mixed bag, but it’s the best first round I’ve had here in a few years. With no wind out there, you had to shoot five or six under.”
Webb accumulated her seven wins between 1998 and last year when she reeled off a closing round of 61 to win by six shots.
Tseng, having jumped from fifth to second in the world rankings following her seven-shot victory in last weekend’s Australian Open in Melbourne, will edge past South Korea’s Shin Ji-yai into the top ranking with a victory here.
Tseng, 22, revealed that she had moulded her playing tempo and rhythm on Webb after watching her practice routine when she came to the Gold Coast as a 17-year-old.
“I still watch her, she is always doing the same thing, and I’m trying to copy that,” Tseng said. “It would be a dream come true to be No. 1. It was my dream from when I was very young and it was very, very far away, but now I’m sitting here with the chance to achieve it.”
Luna nearly ran the leaders down late in the day, getting to 6-under by the 15th hole without dropping a shot, but she missed the last three greens.
Austrian Stefani Michl and Swede Linda Wessberg sunk hole-in-ones at the par three 11th and 5th holes respectively.
Michl was left to rue the fact that there is a A$60,000 Peugeot car on offer for an ace at the 11th on the weekend.