By Jane Crafter As a design consultant for Crafter + Mogford Golf Strategies, I must say I was delighted when we were selected by Golf Australia as its course consultants for the 2007 MFS Australian Women’s Open at Royal Sydney Golf Club. I have also been acting as International liaison person for the event, and have been busy encouraging players from the LPGA Tour in the USA to come Down Under for the Championship. The MFS Australian Open held in November at Royal Sydney was a huge success and the golf course was in spectacular shape and a real challenge for the players. I ve played many of the world s great championship golf courses in my career, and I m really excited about contributing to the setup of the Royal Sydney course. I have retired from the LPGA Tour and have been doing TV work for quite some time in the US for both the NBC and ESPN networks it’s a wonderful job! I have had a front row seat for some amazing golf the past few years from the world s No.1 Annika Sorenstam, and this year witnessed the return to winning form of our own Karrie Webb. I have also seen the emergence of another superstar, young Lorena Ochoa from Mexico, who took the Player of the Year honours. What a season it has been on the LPGA! I m looking forward to commentating on the Women’s Open with our ABC on their return to golf broadcasting after many years absence. There is great excitement at the prospect on the 2007 MFS Women’s Australian Open returning to the ALPG Tour schedule. It is wonderful that Karrie will be returning to Australia to play in the event and after a 2005 season that was her worst since joining the LPGA, she worked incredibly hard on her game and fitness over the off-season and came out in 2006 with a renewed determination to return to the winner s circle once more. She has re-worked her swing over the past two years under the tutelage of Ian Triggs, in consultation with her long time coach Kelvin Haller, and has reaped the benefits of all that hard work. The first major championship of the year, the Kraft Nabisco at Mission Hills CC, saw Karrie in contention going into Saturday s third round, but she fell off the pace with a 76. I was not sure she could bounce back from that mentally and emotionally, but how wrong I was! Karrie stormed in from behind with a closing 65, capped off with an incredible eagle on the 18th – holing out from 116 yards with a pitching wedge!! I have never seen such total elation from Karrie. Holing that wedge got her into a playoff with Ochoa, and she won on the first playoff hole with a 10-foot putt for birdie. What a special win for Webb, and you could see the weight was off her shoulders ..and she was back, in a major way!! The rest of the season was a brilliant one for her, with five victories all told, and over US$2 million in earnings and 2nd place on the LPGA money list. She is more than back to her old winning form – her swing is better than ever, her attitude also, and she appreciates how fine a line there is between winning and not winning. It came so amazingly easy for her the first time around, and now she understands her game so much better, and just what it takes to achieve success. She is excited to be returning home in such great form, and I know she will be gunning to start the 2007 season with a victory at the MFS Women’s Australian Open. There is no better feeling than winning in front of your home crowd. I can attest to that! Natalie Gulbis, the young talent from the US LPGA will also be playing in our Open. Natalie is yet to win her first LPGA event, but she has come close and is gaining experience every time she tees off. She lost in a playoff at the Jamie Farr Classic last July in Toledo, Ohio to Mi Hyun Kim, and it was the highest rated women’s golf telecast on ESPN ever! She definitely has star power and the galleries love to watch Natalie play. She was a member of the victorious US Solheim Cup team last year and played like a seasoned veteran. She finished this year 16th on the LPGA money list with over US$693,000! It will only be a matter of time before she wins, and who knows, the MFS Women&aposs Australian Open may be the first of many in her career! Another superstar in the world of women’s golf is Laura Davies, MBE, OBE. Laura will once again grace our fairways in 2007! She has been such a wonderful supporter of Australian women’s professional golf over the years, and I have had many on-course battles with Laura myself. In fact my 1996 Australian Ladies Masters victory came by holing a 40 foot eagle putt on the 72nd hole to edge Laura out by a single shot! What a gracious competitor she has always been, and this past year has seen Laura play some excellent golf on the Ladies European Tour, with two victories and six second place finishes. One of the longest hitters in women’s golf she is always a gallery favourite. She is another who could easily emerge victorious next month in Sydney. So, along with many of Australia s young up and coming stars, like Nikki Garrett (LET 2006 Rookie of the Year), Nikki Campbell, Katherine Hull, Lindsay Wright and others, Webb, Gulbis and Davies promise to put on a great golfing show at the 2007 MFS Women’s Australian Open! Look forward to seeing you there!
Author: Jane Crafter