Tour News

Walshe checks in late at Ladies Masters

(Photo: Bruce Young)
Irish born American, Alison Walshe, leads the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, her late afternoon round of 66 moving her ahead of long time leader, Jessica Korda, who finished her opening round more than six hours earlier.

There is a further shot back to American Dori Carter, Australian Stacey Keating, Spain's Belen Mozo and Thailand's Nontiya Srisawang is from Chiang Mai and last year won the Thailand Ladies Open and is now a member of the Ladies European Tour.

Walshe disrupted the dinner plans of several of the media contingent as many of them had their day one stories all but written when Walshe (playing in the second to last group of the day) birdied her 17th hole to take the outright lead for the first time. She was not about to apologise for that.

"I put a lot of work into the off season and I had a pretty confident and positive mindset when I hit off today," said the leader after her round. "I putted well and that was the best part of my game today. They (the greens) were pretty slow and it was a case of getting myself to hit them hard enough but I made a lot of good putts so I am happy with that.

Florida based but Massachusetts raised, Walshe is into her third season on the LPGA Tour and has yet to contend regularly but she has finished runner-up in both the New Zealand Women's Open and the ALPG Tour event in Canberra in previous trips to this region.

The 27 year old was a US Curtis Cup and Espirito Santo Trophy representative, a former winner of the North South Amateur and played collegiate golf at the University of Arizona so enjoys pedigree beyond her current profile in this part of the world.

Earlier in the day 18 year old Australian Women's Open Champion, Korda, put together an opening round of five under par 67 and as the morning wave of golfers finished their rounds, the American led by one. She would eventually finish the day one shot behind.

Korda, who survived a six person playoff to win the Australian Open at Royal Melbourne nearly twelve months ago, birdied her opening two holes and remained bogey free, adding birdies at her 6th, 10th and 12th holes.

Following her breakthrough season last year, Korda recorded only one further top ten all season which, considering the way she started the year, was somewhat of a disappointment.

"I played four weeks in Australia last year and I was sick for every single one of them, except for my last days in Melbourne, so just coming home, I had a hard time getting out of bed for a week. I was so exhausted. So really that was hard for me and I didn't get into Singapore or Thailand the weeks after that, so my next event was almost a month and a half after I'd won. It was really tough.

"Life's changed a little bit, not much though, you just have a title to your name and you have a lot more expectations kind of around you. It was a great first win and hopefully I can keep going on that momentum, even though I didn't win after the win last year."

It has been six weeks since Korda last played a competitive tournament so given that she has been quickly back into action.

Korda really enjoys her time in Australia and the golf courses here, so much so that during a week's break next week while many others are playing the New Zealand Open she will head to Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Women's Open the following week in Canberra.

"I'm going to kind of just stay in Melbourne for a little bit and play the golf courses there and then make my way to Canberra the week after. I'm going to be playing five weeks in a row so I just wanted to take one week for myself."

Keating believed she might have had an edge on half the field given that she had the chance to play the course yesterday afternoon.

"I think I was fortunate; I got to play the pro-am yesterday," she said. "There was half the field that didn't get to play, nor a practice round. I still got some solid practice done on Tuesday and Wednesday and I did feel good out there, but I'll be going to the range to try and sort the driver this arvo.

Keating played with one of her idols in Karrie Webb today and while she has often played socially with Webb it was one of the first times she has played with her in a tournament.

"I've watched her so much in competition; I've had practice rounds with her; so I know how she plays but it was obviously good to be in competition with her. She's just a flusher isn't she," she added referring to the great ball striking qualities of Australia's number one.

With two European Tour titles to her name in 2012 Keating is now settling into the life of a professional golfer and is a lot more at ease in her role.

"I think I'm a lot more confident, a lot more comfortable playing professional golf. Obviously I'm just carrying that confidence over and hope it can keep going. I'm just enjoying playing in Australia.

24 year old Mozo is into her third season on the LPGA Tour in the US after a collegiate career at the University of Southern California. She has recorded only one top ten to date but is a player capable of going to a much higher level.

Dori Carter is from Georgia and plays the LPGA Tour while Nontiya Srisawang is from Chiang Mai and last year won the Thailand Ladies Open and is now a member of the Ladies European Tour.

Of the pre tournament favourites, Karrie Webb began with a round of two under par 70 while So Yeon Ryu and Jiyai Shin had 1 under par rounds of 71.

The cut, expoected to be around 1 or 2 over will be made to the top 50 and ties tomorrow afternoon before the final round on Sunday.

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