Friday October 12, 2012
Aussie legend turns back the clock to share lead with Na-yeon
Reports by LIM TEIK HUAT, S. RAMAGURU and ASHREENA PILLAI
Pix: S.S. KANESAN
Australian legend Karrie Webb (pic, above) turned back the clock to share the lead with defending champion Choi Na-yeon as world No. 1 Tseng Yani made a disastrous start in a weather-disrupted first round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia yesterday.
Karrie, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, maintained her composure to stay bogey-free for a six-under 65 despite enduring a three-hour wait after rain halted play in the afternoon at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
The 37-year-old Karrie returned to finish the three remaining holes when play resumed at 4.30pm at the par-71 course and had another birdie on the 17th to move to the top before Na-yeon joined her.
World No. 4 Na-yeon, who won the US$1.9mil event last year, had a chance to be the outright leader but failed to convert a birdie chance on the final hole.
Na-yeon, who won the US Open this year, could only save par instead to share the lead with Webb.
Na-yeon was already five-under through 12 holes before the interruption.
Karrie and Na-yeon enjoy a one-stroke lead over Taiwanese amateur Min Lee, Mika Miyazato of Japan and Sun Young-yoo of South Korea, who are tied for second on 66.
Two other South Koreans – Han Hee-won and Park Hee-young – were one stroke back on four-under 67.
Webb won consecutive events early last year in Singapore and Phoenix for the last of her 38 LPGA Tour victories – more than anyone else.
“I played here but I was a bit tired last year and did not have a good attitude in my mindset.
“I’m in a different frame of mind this time and feeling refeshed after a two-and-half week break where I spent time to celebrate my mum’s 60th birthday.
“Six birdies and no bogeys, I’m pleased with that,” said Webb, who was happy to stay calm despite the long wait.
“It’s always hard to stay focused after you have to sit it out for more than three hours.
“Instead of wanting to finish it off quickly without making mistakes, I was trying to hit some quality shots and that made the difference.”
Na-yeon, who has six LPGA Tour career wins, was happy with her putting and pleased to have stayed bogey-free as well.
“I know this course very well that it makes you obligated to play well. My strategy was to hit the fairway well first, if I do it well, I know I will have a good chance for birdies,” she said.
On the pressure of being the defending champion, she said: “I put extra pressure on myself too as a lot of people expect me to win here. But I like it ... it makes you more nervous and encourage you to play better.”
Yani had three uncharacteristic double bogeys on the 11th, 12th and 15th to eventually slump to the bottom of the field with a seven-over 78.
It was certainly a far cry from the player who has been perched at the top of the world rankings since early 2011 and finished second in the tournament last year, a stroke behind Na-yeon.
American world No. 2 Stacy Lewis, who together with Yani are the only players to have won three times on the Tour this year, opened with a 70.
Fellow American Michelle Wie, who turned 23 yesterday, had a 74. She had an eagle and three birdies, but lost eight shots with a triple bogey, a double bogey and three bogeys.
There is no half-way cut in the tournament.
Ainil and Aretha Malaysia’s best finishers after first round
Thailand’s Ariya eyes top 10 finish before turning pro
Unheralded teen Min Lee steals the show as Yani struggles
Pressel’s great cause outside the course