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Karen Stupples seeking Australian impovement

England's Karen Stupples hopes to go one place better this year at the $Aus800,000 ANZ Ladies Masters, which starts Thursday at Royal Pines resort on Australia's Gold Coast.

Stupples, the Weetabix Women's British Open champion, finished second last year behind a rampant Annika Sorenstam, the world number one who carded a brace of 65s over the weekend to deny the Englishwoman her maiden title.

But the 31-year-old from Deal in Kent admitted that she received a lesson in being greedy after playing with the Swedish superstar and went on to win twice in 2004, which included her dramatic major championship victory in front of her home fans at Sunningdale in Berkshire.

"I learned a lot from watching her play," said Stupples on the eve of the event.

"Once she's got the tournament by the throat she doesn't want to let it go. She just keeps pounding away and wants to make more and more birdies and I think I learned a valuable lesson from that. She was playing to get as many under par for herself. She wasn't doing it for anyone else or to do anything other than to be as good as she could.

Despite the absence of the World number one, Stupples recognises that there is a strong field here this week and she will have to play well to win around this 6443-yard long course.

"I don't have Annika to beat this year but there is plenty of other good opposition to beat this year," she added.

Headlining the 'opposition' is former World number one Karrie Webb from Australia who won this event four times in succession from 1998-2001, compatriot Rachel Hetherington, her World Cup partner, Laura Davies from England, champion on three occasions here and the 19-year-old Japanese sensation Ai Miyazato, who won the World Cup in South Africa two weeks ago alongside Rui Kitada.

Miyazato, whose presence has not only caused a shortage of space in the media centre thanks, but her first appearance in Australia is partly responsible for a shortage of accommodation in the Surfers Paradise area of the Gold Coast as thousands of Japanese fans have flocked from the cold weather of Japan to witness Japan's hottest sporting property take on some of the best players in women's golf.

Webb knows all about her, having already been defeated by the youngster at the Masters Golf Club in Japan last season.

"She's just an incredible talent and she's done so much for women's golf in Japan and electrified it over there and wherever she goes there are a bout 30 media about six feet behind her all the time," said Webb, who admitted that a change in her attitude is benefiting her game heading into this season.

"I try not to be so hard on myself and I think the difference is that each week I don't see it as a life and death situation and I know that to have a long career, I couldn't possibly keep up the intensity,

"I used to be so hard on myself and I think that fired me up to play well, but I don't respond to that as well and the criticism I give to myself and I've actually stopped listening to it. I'm still hard on myself but as I get older it's less and less every year."

 

 

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