Karrie Webb caught the worst of the conditions at The Grange today but still began with a fine 67.
It suggests that the five-time ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open champion has a strong chance of making it six titles this week, four shots back from the lead held by SooBin Kim of South Korea but with only three players ahead of her.
The wind whistled through the pines on the west course late in her round and was so strong that she needed more than an iron to get anywhere near the par-four 16th hole, playing upwind. Playing alongside bombing Canadian Brooke Henderson, she watched the Canuck smoke one 295 metres down the 18th.
Webb held her nerve and made a safe par at the 18th for a five-under round that included six birdies, one of which, at the par-four sixth hole, she counted as spectacular. Stymied behind trees, she swerved it around the bend and up to four metres, then rolled the putt in for a three.
"I probably made the best birdie of my career on six,'' she said. "I didn't have much. I had to hit a high hook or a low cut and those are both harder to do. I had to hit the cut against the breeze and in the end I felt that was the better option and it was one of those shots that you just pull off.''
Webb said the conditions were not too bad, and theoretically, at least, she should be on the better side of the draw with a morning tee time tomorrow. "I think we got pretty lucky, the wind kicked up later today than it has, so we really only had to play in that gusty wind probably for the last four or five holes. So for an afternoon tee time we probably got pretty lucky, and I played really nicely today and made the most of it.''
Asked if she would have taken a 67 at the start of the day, she said: "Yes. I would've stayed in my hotel.''