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Gripping final day awaits at Royal Pines

(Photo: Bruce Young)
The Volvik RACV Ladies Masters might be being played for half the prize-money of recent years and it may have been reduced to just 54 holes but there is an air of familiarity about the way that tomorrow's final round is shaping up.

Over the many years the event has been held at the RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, Sunday has often turned into a shootout with the ominous figure of Karrie Webb often in the mix.

Tomorrow, a 16 year old Victorian and a 17 year old Thai take a one shot lead into the final round but they face an eclectic mix of ages and skill level in those chasing them.

Ten players are within for shots of the lead, most notably Webb who sits just two shots off the pace as she eyes her eight victory in this event since 1998.

16 year Su Hyun Oh and 17 year old Ariya Jutanugarn played in the morning group and when they finished their rounds around midday they sat at 10 under and with the breeze kicking in, their early efforts appeared as if they could potentially give them a buffer heading into tomorrow's final round.

That was the way it appeared until late in the day when Australian female golf's rising star, Stacey Keating, and the early leader on day one, Jessica Korda, both birdied their final hole to get within one.

One shot further back sit Karrie Webb and Korean player Chella Choi both with genuine chances of running down the leaders tomorrow.

Webb made a fast start with four birdies in her first five holes and then birdied three of her last five to record a round of 66 and get within two of the lead.

Webb is just where she wants to be. "I felt pretty good. I got off to a great start, which was good," she said. "There was a little lull there through the middle but a nice finish. Two shots behind. When I teed off 10 under was leading, so I thought if I could get within three or four of that I'd have a good shot tomorrow. So 66 - I'm really happy with that.

"I'm looking forward to - I'm happy with where my game's at. I don't think I've felt this good at the start of the year for a while. Even though I've won at the start of the year within the last three
or four years, I actually really felt ready this week. I didn't really feel like I'd have to dust off any rust or anything. So, happy with the first two rounds and looking forward to tomorrow."

Webb was asked about the age gap between her and the leaders who are more than half her age and that even at the age of 38 she is hardly past it. "I feel like women get asked the question at 38 about being a veteran or maybe past my prime. I made the comment last year that you wouldn't ask Phil Mickelson that when he was 38. I think he'd only won one or two of his five majors that he's won. Vijay Singh has won more events in his forties than he did in his twenties or thirties. But men don't get asked that question as often as I feel that women do."

Korda began brilliantly to get within two early on but then lost her way through the middle of the round. The 19 year old staged a strong finish to get back within two and the current Australian Open Champion is within reach of becoming the current holder of Australian women's golf's most prestigious titles.

Keating is now an experienced campaigner in the heat of the battle and there is little doubt she will face a battle tomorrow. Her two wins on the 2012 Ladies European Tour now leave her with little fear in what she faces tomorrow.

22 year old Choi is a non winner in her professional career but has compiled numerous top tens against stronger fields than this on the LPGA Tour. She has a great opportunity for the long awaited breakthrough tomorrow but it would seem she will need a repeat of her second round of 67 at least if she is to have any chance.

If tomorrow delivers even half as much as what it promises it will be a very good day at Royal Pines.

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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