Date: February 13, 2014
Author: Martin Blake /

Controversial start for Karrie

The favorites are struggling on the opening day of the ISPS Handa Women&aposs Australian Open in benign conditions at Victoria Golf Club. Four-time winner Karrie Webb started on the 10th hole with a near-mishap, and went through her first nine holes at one-over par, taking bogeys at the 12th and 13th balanced by a nice birdie at the short par-four 15th hole. At 12 she had to lay up from a fairway bunker, and at 13 she pulled her second with a short iron into the left trap and failed to get up and down. Webb, who was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard at the Ladies Masters in Queensland last week, was told as she stood on the 10th tee at 8.05am that she had teed up fractionally in front of the tee markers. The rules official was Golf Australia chairman John Hopkins, who had played alongside Webb in the pro-am the day before, and while it may have unsettled Webb, it saved her from a potential two-shot penalty. Webb promptly moved her ball a few centimetres back with the curt comment: &apos&aposHow&aposs that?&apos&apos She then smashed her tee shot 20 metres past her playing partners, Stacy Lewis of America and Suzann Pettersen of Norway. Of the trio of world top-10 players who formed the outstanding group of the field, world No. 2 Pettersen was making the most of the conditions. Pettersen hit a sand wedge close at the 13th to make birdie after an enormous drive, then bombed an eight-metre birdie at the par-five 18th to turn at two-under par. Lewis turned at even-par. South Korea&aposs Eun-Hee Ji led the field at five-under par through nine holes. The Korean is a former US Open champion.