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Aussies in Charleston to Chase Major Glory

Karrie Webb's hopes of winning her 8th major title - and first in more than 13 years - appear slim.
Seven out of a field of 156 at this week’s US Women’s Open might not sound like a particularly strong Australian representation, but one look at the task involved in just being able to tee it up in the event puts into perspective what those players have achieved.

From an original entry list of more than 1500 with handicaps of 2.4 or better, the field has been dwindled down to 156 who will face the starter at the Country Club of Charleston beginning Thursday night AEST.

Five of the seven Australians have earned their way into the event as a direct result of their performances on various golf tours over the past year, while Gabriela Ruffels, now playing collegiate golf in California, passed perhaps one of the most demanding golf examinations by surviving both local and sectional qualifying to earn her first major championship start.

Karrie Webb is in the field courtesy of a special invite by the USGA, Minjee Lee, Katherine Kirk, Hannah Green and Su Oh all gained starts by finishing inside the top 75 money earners on last year’s LPGA Tour money while Sarah Kemp played her way into the field with an excellent season on the Ladies European Tour in 2018.

Green, like Ruffels, is making her first appearance at the richest event ($US5.5 million) in women's golf, while, on the other end of the spectrum, Webb will play her 24th US Women's Open.

Kirk is playing her 15th US Women’s Open, Lee her sixth and Oh and Kemp their fifth.

The Australians in the field will be looking to improve on the three US Women’s Opens won by their fellow countrywomen Jan Stephenson (1) and Webb (2).

Stephenson became the first Australian female to win a major championship of any kind when she was successful in 1983 while Webb won on successive occasions in 2000 and 2001.

In terms of winning chances amongst the Australians, perhaps only Minjee Lee - who turned 23 eariler this week - can be considered a realistic possibility. 

The current World No. 2 is seeking her first major title and her first ever top ten in a US Women’s Open, her previous best coming in 2017 when 11th.

Lee has been in fine form in 2019 with a win, two runner-up finishes and a 3rd place amongst her 11 starts to date.

The Western Australian's last two starts this season have seen her finish 8th and last week she made a strong recovery from a slow start to finish 13th in Virginia. With just three top tens in 25 major championship starts however Lee’s record at this level has been below that she displays in regular season LPGA Tour events although she appears primed for a potential major breakthrough this week.

Only Webb, amongst the Australians in this week's field, has previously recorded a top ten finish at a US Women’s Open but her most recent form is well below that she displayed in her heyday.

And with such a limited schedule in 2019 (just 4 events to date) that record appears unlikely to improve.

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