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Hull happy to be Masters favourite

ENGLISH teenager Charley Hull is wearing the favourite's tag for this week's Ladies Masters on the Gold Coast as a badge of honour.

SHE'S only 18 but there's no fear for England's Charley Hull about being the favourite for this week's Ladies Masters on the Gold Coast.

In an era of women's golf when 17-year-old New Zealander Lydia Ko is the world No.1, Hull is far from unusual as a teenage challenger.

Hull topped the order of merit on the Ladies European Tour (LET) in 2014, just her second year as a professional.

A week out from taking on a top field including Ko and Karrie Webb in Melbourne at the Women's Australian Open, Hull will be the leading light alongside defending champion Cheyenne Woods at Royal Pines.

The favourite's tag is one Hull believes she can handle, particularly after overcoming a disappointing performance at the LPGA Q-School last year to claim the LET order of merit a few days later.

"It's a good thing because it shows that I've been playing well last year," she said.

Hull won the LET event in Morocco last year and believes she comes to the Gold Coast a better player than she was 12 months ago when she finished tied for 10th.

"I learnt if you don't have a good week, there's always another week," Hull said.

"I feel my swing's improved a lot ... looking forward to seeing how it goes this year."

Hull's main rivals at Royal Pines will be South African world No.29 Lee-Anne Pace, the highest-ranked player in the field, English veteran Laura Davies, Australian Rachel Hetherington and defending champion Woods.

But her toughest battle could be overcoming a right shoulder injury which has hampered her build-up.

"Today's the first day I've been able to see the golf course," she said.

"I hurt my back and my neck and I haven't been able to hit many balls. It's a bit annoying.

"That's how it goes sometimes.

"It's affecting my swing a little bit but hopefully it'll be alright."

The 2015 Ladies Masters tees off on Thursday from 0700 (AEST) with Hull drawn in the afternoon groups alongside Australia's Kristie Smith and China's Yan Jing.

Woods will tee off at 0755 alongside Davies and France's Gwladys Nocera while Pace and Hetherington will be joined by Australia's Stacey Keating.

LADIES MASTERS HONOUR ROLL

Past winners

2014 - Cheyenne Woods (USA)

2013 - Karrie Webb (AUS)

2012 - Christel Boeljon (NED)

2011 - Yani Tseng (TAI)

2010 - Karrie Webb (AUS)

2009 - Katherine Hull (AUS)

2008 - Lisa Hall (ENG)

2007 - Karrie Webb (AUS)

2006 - Amy Yang (AUS)

2005 - Karrie Webb (AUS)

Multiple winners

8 - Karrie Webb (AUS)

3 - Laura Davies (ENG), Annika Sorenstam (SWE)

2 - Jane Geddes (USA), Jane Crafter (AUS)

AAP

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