Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko and five-time Women’s Australian Open champion Karrie Webb lead the LPGA’s return to action this week at one of Australia’s most venerable courses.
Ko, 17, and Webb, 40, are the favorites at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Ko, a Kiwi, begins her third consecutive week atop the Rolex world rankings with a chance to solidify her position. Rolex No. 2 Inbee Park and No. 3 Stacy Lewis are not in this week’s field.
Webb returns to her Aussie homeland looking to win this championship in back-to-back years for the second time. She came from five shots behind in the final round a year ago to win at Victoria Golf Club. She also won the Women’s Australian Open in 2000, 2002, 2007 and 2008.
Four of the top 10 in the Rolex rankings are scheduled to tee it up at Royal Melbourne’s composite course, a combination of its East and West courses. China’s Shanshan Feng, No. 4 in the world rankings, is scheduled to make her first LPGA start of the year. No. 7 So Yeon Ryu and No. 9 Webb round out the top 10 players in the field.
South Korea’s Q Baek, No. 11 in the world, is scheduled to make her debut as a rookie LPGA member. England’s Charley Hull is also making her LPGA rookie debut in an event co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour. Australia’s Minjee Lee, the former No. 1 amateur in the world, will make her first start in her homeland as an LPGA rookie. Na Yeon Choi, reigning Women’s British Open champion Mo Martin, 2012 Women’s Australian Open champion Jessica Korda, Laura Davies, Christina Kim and former world No. 1 Yani Tseng also are in the field.
Golf Channel will be televising all four rounds of the event: Wednesday, 11p.m.—2 a.m.; Thursday/Friday, 11:30 p.m.—2 a.m.; Saturday, 9 p.m.—2 a.m.