Tour News

Americans show the way at Ladies Masters

(Photo: Bruce Young)
Americans, Jessica Korda and Katie Burnett lead the way at the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters at the RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, one of the pre tournament favourites, Korda, taking advantage of her morning draw to post an early five under 68 to have the lead as the afternoon field headed out on the opening day.

Two weeks ago Korda won the Pure Silk event in the Bahamas, while Burnett missed the cut so the contrasting form is interesting.

Korda, who finished 5th in this event last year, suggested the conditions were tough from very early in the day. "It will be interesting to see what the weather does here, because if it does get windy these greens are going to be really tough to hold, we've already seen that today, it wasn't as windy as it is getting right now. I was hitting shots really well and they were just rolling off the back so it will definitely be really interesting to see."

Amongst that later group was Burnett, who was out in the second to last group of the day from the 10th tee. Through nine holes at 1 under par there was no real sign of what was to come but birdies at the 10th, 11th and 12th took her within one of the lead before a bogey at the 4th.

The 24 year old from Brunswick in Georgia, currently ranked 215 in the world, played both the Ladies European and LPGA Tour this year with little success other then two 4th placed finishes in European events. She was though in her rookie season after graduating from the University of South Carolina.

Korda on the other hand is one of the LPGA Tour's most exciting prospects having won twice including when Australian Open Champion two years ago. Today she played early and raced to the turn in 4 under, threatening to establish quite a break on day one. She struggled a little over her closing nine but two late birdies got her to 5 under and the outright lead at that time.

Stacey Lee Bergman was another to play in the second to last group on her side of the draw and birdie her final three holes for a round of 68 to join Americans Valentine Derry, Cheyenne Woods, Canadian Lori Kane and Bergman's fellow South African Lee Ann Pace at 4 under 69 over the par 73 layout.

The leading Australians are Sarah Kemp, Rebecca Artis, Australian Amateur Champions Minjee Lee and her fellow West Australian Kristie Smith.

Pre tournament favourite Karrie Webb struggled through her opening round of 74 and has a lot of work to do if she is to get back into the mix. She has made similar slow starts previously and won but she faces a tough task this week.

Webb thought the conditions made things very difficult. "Normally the wind picks up later on in the day. You usually get a good nine holes in where there isn't a lot but it was up early. I think it was forecast to be up early, and I think these strong, gusty winds now were suppose to come in a bit early but it's really picked up now.

"It's tricky because I don't feel like it ever blew out of the same direction; it was sort of cornering a little bit and a lot of the holes out there are cross breezes. So I couldn't tell if it was helping or hurting.

39 players broke par on day one with the current cut score likely to be around 3 or 4 over.

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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