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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 274
COVER STORY winning her national Open – and continues to prepare accordingly, playing a practice round in January to better familiarise herself with the layout. “I did the same thing last year, snuck over early and had a practice round,” she said. “That benefited me so I decided to do it again.” Minjee Lee remains our highest ranked female player at World No.17 – but it’s easy to forget she’s still only 21 years old. The West Australian went winless in 2017 despite playing some solid golf and posting 10 top-10 finishes. Lee’s commanding victory at the Oates Vic Open and her runner-up finish to Korea’s Jiyai Shin at the Canberra Classic shows she is in good form heading to Kooyonga. She finished tied third in the championship last year and – on paper – is Australia’s best chance of snapping the four-year drought this week. Lee’s fellow Olympian Su Oh also has quite a lot of experience for a 21-year-old. The Victorian is yet to break into the winner’s circle on the LPGA Tour – but she’s posted four career top-10s, and looked likely to lift the Patricia Bridges Bowl at stages during last year’s Australian Open. NSW’s Rebecca Artis makes her debut as a full member of the LPGA Tour after earning her card through the Qualifying School at the end of 2017. It was the 29-year-old’s fifth visit to Q-School and she’ll be keen to bank a good chunk of prizemoney on home soil to get her rookie year off to a solid start. Then there is the Queensland connection of Sarah-Jane Smith, Katherine Kirk and Karrie Webb. All three can never be discounted playing in front of home crowds, with Smith and Kirk proving in the past 12 months they are in career best form. While any Australian overcoming such a world class field to win the Open this week would be cause for celebration, one thinks a sixth Australian Open victory for Webb this week might see more than a few champagne corks popped around Kooyonga’s 18th green. The 43-year-old announced at the weekend that she is moving to a part-time playing schedule on the LPGA Tour this year, after 23 years on the road. “I’m looking at transitioning here at some point,’’ Webb told ABC Grandstand. “I don’t think I’m going to play as many this year and ... I’d like to spend more time back in North Queensland, maybe go to a few North Queensland Cowboys games. “Probably (there will be) periods in the ► Katherine Kirk is in career best form on the back of her LPGA Tour win last season.
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