Defending champion Karrie Webb opened with a sizzling 66 today at the ANZ RACV Ladies Masters, but she has plenty of distinguished company at the top, even after closing out her round on the front with a 5-under-par, bogey-free 32. Former U.S. Women's Open champion Eun-Hee Ji is right there with her, along with 4 other players, including LPGA/LET super soph Maria Hernandez; Ya Ni Tseng, winner of the Aussie Women's Open last week, is only 1 back, tied with the LPGA's Stacy Lewis, KLPGA star Shin Ae Ahn, LET star Melissa Reid, and Aussies Sarah Jane Smith and Kristie Smith; 2010 LET money-list title-holder Lee-Anne Pace heads a mob 2 shots back that includes LPGA/LET rookie Belen Mozo, the JLPGA's Nikki Campbell and Tamie Durdin, and Futures Tour graduate Ryann O'Toole; and only 3 back are the likes of Laura Davies, Christina Kim, Katherine Hull, Momoko Ueda, Amanda Blumenherst, and Lexi Thompson.
And the leaderboard doesn't get any weaker the further down you go, either. 4 back are such up-and-comers as Sandra Gal, Jennifer Song, Cindy LaCrosse, Dewi Claire Schreefel, and Australia's Sarah Oh. 5 back are Gwladys Nocera, Mariajo Uribe, Tiffany Joh, and ALPG winners in recent weeks Caroline Hedwall and 19-year-old amateur Ashley Ona. And Angela Stanford, Karen Stupples, Pernilla Lindberg, Louise Stahle, and Louise Friberg clocked in at even par, still within shouting distance of the lead.
The only real diappointments from name players are 73s by Alison Walshe and Jaclyn Sweeney, 74s by Lorie Kane, Sarah Kemp, and Mollie Fankhauser, a 75 by Mina Harigae, and a 77 by Minea Blomqvist, and they're not even (or in Kane's case, no longer) really big-name players.
Webb putted the lights out to put up the number she did, while Tseng continued her excellent ball-striking from last week and Ji and Lewis posted bogey-free rounds. Let's see if they can put some distance between themselves and the rest of the field tomorrow, or if players can come from behind to make the duststorm enveloping this shootout even thicker!