Webb assumes position

World Number One Karrie Webb assumes her rightful position at the Evian...on top of the field

Terrence O'Rorke
Thu, 15 Jun 2000

World number Karrie Webb moved into her customary position at the top of the leaderboard today after firing a six under par 66 in the opening round of the £1.2 million Evian Masters.

The Australian ace leads by a solitary shot from Korea's Grace Park, who posted a flawless 67, while America's Sherri Steinhauer and Nancy Scranton share third spot a further shot back.

Webb posted seven birdies and one bogey in glorious sunshine over the Royal Evian Golf Club, reaching the turn with a bogey-free 31 before coming home in 35.

"I know there were a few more birdies out there but I was very happy to see some good shots into the greens and some putts go down," said Webb, already a six-time winner this season.

"I didn't have too many long ones (putts) and managed to take good advantage of the short ones. "

Webb's one bogey came at the short 17th, where she found the greenside trap and missed her 10 foot par effort. The pick of her birdies putts came at the par three 14th when she holed out from 20 foot.

The in-form Australian also eluded to the advantage of having competed in this event, now the richest in the history of women's European golf, back in 1995 and 1996. Particularly on the greens, as the Evian layout is carved into a slope on the banks of Lake Geneva.

"It helps to have some course knowledge of the greens, which can be difficult," added the 25-year-old Queenslander.

"The breaks often look as if they're going one way but when you make the putt they actually break towards the lake.

"But three of the par fives are also reachable, with a three wood at nine and the rest with irons. There are also a few short par fours out there."

Such has been the outstanding form shown by Webb around the world this season, her dominance of the women's game has been compared to that of Tiger Wood's in men's golf.

Four wins on the LPGA Tour in America, plus a home victory in the AAMI Australian Open followed by a win in the Nichi Rey Cup in Japan, have effectively made her the player to beat every time she tees-up.

Second placed Park, playing for the first time in Evian, also referred to the Evian greens and said she was looking forward to playing with Webb for the first time.

"I'd heard all about the greens and the slope to the lake before coming over here, but I found if you hit it right then the ball rolled really well," said Park, who won her first pro title at the Kathy Ireland Greens.com LPGA Classic in America two weeks ago.

"Winning has made a huge difference to my confidence in my game, especially as my ball striking hadn't been so good. I've only had one practise round with Karrie (Webb) and I'm looking forward to it tomorrow - hopefully it will prove a good motivation."

Park went out in just one under the card, but she managed to find a rhythm on the back nine as she came home with a four under par 32.

"I played really well, consistent with no mistakes," added Park, whose longest putt was from 12 feet at the eighth. "I had five birdies and a number of other putts that fell just short."

A disrupted practise round yesterday failed to affect Scranton's performance as the American fired four birdies in a bogey-free 68. A delay in the arrival of her clubs forced Scranton to practise with a borrowed set on the range, and when her clubs finally arrived she only had time to play the closing three holes.

"My clubs didn't get here until 6.30pm and although I walked and putted on the first five holes, I only got to play 16, 17 and 18," said Scranton.

"So I hadn't seen six to 14 and had to rely heavily on my caddie. But it forced me to just focus on every shot. It stopped me from getting ahead of myself which can sometimes be a good thing." Scranton went out in 33 and returned in 35, while her fellow American Steinhauer traded one birdie for one bogey on an outward 36, before coming home in an impressive four under 32.

The 1998 and 1999 Weetabix British Open Champion will go out in the penultimate threeball tomorrow, with Webb, Park and Scranton making up the final flight.

Six players share fifth place at three under par, including the in-form Sophie Gustfason, currently heading the Evian moneylist in Europe. The powerful Swede secured her maiden LPGA title at the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship in April, which she followed with wins in Italy and last week in the Waterford Crystal Ladies Irish Open.

She is joined in fifth spot by Sweden's Carin Koch, winner two weeks ago in the Chrysler Open, Joanne Morley of England and Americans Michelle Redman, Kelly Robbins and Lorie Kane.



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