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Webb to face men in "Battle of the Sexes"

Karrie Webb will take on four of the world's best-known male golfers in a "Battle of the Sexes" series next year.

Webb will meet Nick Faldo, Stuart Appleby, Michael Campbell and John Daly on courses around the world in the million-dollar series which is tipped to prove the Australian star deserves comparison to the mighty Tiger Woods.

The contest - being promoted by Greg Norman's former manager Frank Williams - has a precedent in tennis, when Billie-Jean King played Bobby Riggs in 1973.

It would be handicapped, with Webb hitting off the men's tees and the men playing off the championship marks - and carry a purse of more than $1 million.

Webb has dominated women's golf in the past 12 months in a similar way to Woods in the men's game. A clash with the American superstar will not happen because of the enormous appearance fees he commands but if Webb could dispatch Faldo, Campbell, Appleby and Daly, it might lead to a future meeting with the men's world No 1.

Webb said she was often compared with Woods because of their similar records, and the series was an excellent way to set the record straight.

Williams, of Frank Williams Sports, said he talked with Faldo and Appleby at the Australian Open and both were keen to compete.

Faldo said he was excited about the prospect of playing Webb. His manager, John Simpson, said it would just be a matter of clearing room in the Briton's schedule.

Williams said: "It's funny because a few of the golfers I approached were a bit nervous about committing. Nick Faldo, a six-times major winner, has expressed the most interest. He is willing to back himself.

"She is as good as Tiger from inside 150 yards [137m] and I think a few people know that and are worried about being upstaged.

"This is a great chance for Karrie to show she is just as good as the men.

"I don't think that she gets the recognition that she deserves. Her record clearly shows she is the best golfer this country has produced. She is easily as good as Greg [Norman] at his peak and she has claims to being the best in the world."

Despite doubts from some sections of the golf community, Williams said the corporate interest in the event was pleasing.

"It's early days yet but I already have a sponsor willing to commit a million dollars to the event," he said.

Williams said Faldo had confirmed his intentions in writing, Campbell had agreed to take part and Appleby was a likely starter. He said he would also ask Daly, with whom he has a good relationship, to play.

Faldo could take on Webb in Europe in August, Appleby was pencilled in for Hope Island around Christmas and Campbell would play in New Zealand at a similar time.

Respected commentator and 1991 British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch was willing to back Webb if she played off the members' tees.

"I think that Karrie can beat the men," Baker-Finch said. "She is that good. I think a lot of people would be very interested to see her take the men on."


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