Top field for Women's
Six players from the World's top 20 have gathered on the world famous Melbourne
sand belt for this week's $Aus500,000 AAMI Women's Australian Open, played at
the immaculate Yarra Yarra Golf Club from February 28 - March 3.
Sophie Gustafson from Sweden will be aiming to repeat her success of last year
but will have tough opposition from World number three Karrie Webb and Rachel
Teske from Australia, England's Laura Davies, American Kelly Robbins, Maria Hjorth
from Sweden and European number one Raquel Carriedo.
Webb, who lost in a playoff against World number one Annika Sorenstam at last
week's ANZ Ladies Masters, will be looking to go one better and repeat her 2000
success around the tricky 5534-metre course, designed by Augusta National course
designer Dr Alistair Mackenzie.
With small, heavily undulating greens surrounded by mischievous bunkering,
to provide a stern short game test, Webb believes the key this week will be solid
course management and a premium on putting.
"Putting this week will be a lot tougher than last week," said the
27-year-old from Queensland who plays with rising Spanish star Paula Marti and
Korean Soo-Yun Kang in the first two rounds.
"The greens here are totally different (to last week at Royal Pines),
the speed of the greens are much quicker. At Yarra Yarra, if you are above the
hole with a lot of putts, you are going to do really well to two-putt. The distance
of your irons into the green is at a premium because the greens are more undulating
and a lot quicker. You have to have an all round game to win here."
Davies, whose best result is third behind Webb in 2000, has won over 60 tournaments
around the world - including 34 on the Evian Ladies European Tour and 20 on the
LPGA. And after her fourth place finish at Royal Pines with closing rounds of
66 and 68, the 38-year-old from Surrey is determined to win her first strokeplay
event on Tour since the 1999 Compaq Open.
Having been close to quitting the game this time last season, Davies turned
to PGA Tour player John Daly for advice on her driving, which by her own admission
was driving her "insane".
"I met John at a charity day in Minneapolis, he knew I was struggling
with the driver. He gave me a couple of ideas and since then, I have been driving
it good," said Davies, who joins Carriedo and Australian Jane Crafter in
the opening two rounds.
However, England's finest-ever female player did not concur with Webb's plan
of attack at Yarra Yarra for this week, preferring not to play conservatively,
instead, to give the driver a good airing.
"There are a lot of holes you can't use it (driver), but the par fives
for sure, the long par four 14th and I am going to have a crack at the first if
the wind is down," added Davies who has been practising more regularly now
and found more confidence and inspiration to win again.
"I do actually practice a fair bit when I am struggling, but when I am
playing well, it's not in my interest to stand there, I get bored and stop doing
the good things. When you see me practising, you know there is a good reason.
When I am not practicing, it's because I am pretty confident and I'm not practising
at the moment.
"The drive I have is even more now because I was number one for three
years, it was all very easy. I can never say it became boring, but it certainly
seemed very easy at the time and I am sure that Annika, Se Ri (Pak) and Karrie
are feeling at the moment. But when you are chasing them, it's probably more fun."
Gustafson is one of Europe's best players and produced a spectacular finish last
year in the AAMI Women's Australian Open to beat Webb by one stroke. She also
won her third LPGA Tour title in 2001 at the Subaru Memorial of Naples.
The Swede, who plays with Teske and 2001 Rookie of the Year Suzann Pettersen
from Norway on the first two days, is looking forward to another memorable week
"It was great winning here last year and this course holds a lot of happy
memories," said The Solheim Cup star.
"The course is in much better condition this year, but my game is still
a little rusty and on top of that I've managed to get a bad neck, so I am off
to see the chiropractor - but I am still going to give it a good go this week
and we'll see what happens."
this page to a friend | Return to top of page