Date: June 12, 2015
Author: Martin Blake

Webb fires back in New York

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With her status as Australia's top-ranked player under threat for the first time in more than a decade, Karrie Webb responded quickly and firmly in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship near New York today.

The 40-year-old Webb, seven-time major winner and World Golf Hall of Fame inductee played a superb five-under par opening round of 68 in the season's second major championship to put herself in contention.

The Australian began on the back nine and started hot with three birdies in her first four holes. She held the outright lead for much of her round, eventually rolling in six birdies and just one bogey.

Eventually she was overtaken later in the day by South Korea's Jenny Shin (66) and Canadian Brooke Henderson (67), but Webb is just two shots back from the lead in a tie for third.

Her world ranking has slipped to No. 16 after a quiet start to the 2015 season in America, leaving her just one spot ahead of the outstanding teenage talent Minjee Lee, who is at No. 17 after a win and a fourth in the past two tournaments.

Lee, the 19-year-old from Perth, began with a one-under 71 today, starting badly with a double bogey and two bogeys on the front nine, then catching fire on the back before closing with another bogey. She is tied-39th after the first day, level with the world No. 1, Lydia Ko of New Zealand.

The other Australians are farther back. Sarah Kemp carded a 74, Katherine Kirk a 75 and Sarah Jane Smith a 77.

Meanwhile in the PGA Tour's Fedex St Jude Championship, young Queensland professional Cameron Smith (67) was the best of the Australians on the opening day, while Steven Bowditch (69) also was solid. The world No. 64-ranked Bowditch is attempting to play his way into the field for the United States Open at Chambers Bay next week. He needs to jump four spots in the rankings.