Leading up to the big bash at the LET/LPGA co-sanctioned RICOH Women’s British Open, Aussie Karrie Webb will defend her title at the Ladies European Masters this week (July 3-6) at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club, Denham, England. World ranked number six Webb, a 2014 double winner on the LPGA Tour (ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February and JTBC Founders Cup in March) will be a formidable defender, bringing the experience gained from 53 career titles and seven major championships to her game plan.
A Trio of Young Challengers
Webb’s facing some serious competition from three youngsters who are relative newcomers to the pro golf scene. Any one of them could take the top of the leaderboard at the Ladies European Masters.
I had the pleasure of following Karrie Webb up close and personal during her second round at the US Women’s Open a couple of weeks ago when she was paired with rookie Stephanie Meadow, who outplayed the veteran on the decidedly tough Pinehurst No. 2 course, finishing the Open in solo third place. Meadow, Northern Ireland’s newest golf star, will take another go at Webb this week at Buckinghamshire Golf Club.
Charley Hull, who splashed onto golf’s world stage last year at the 2013 Solheim Cup in Parker, Colorado when she outplayed American veteran Solheimer Paula Creamer and who walked off with the 2013 LET Rookie of the Year award, is coming into the European Masters with a victory at the Lalla Mayrem Cup and a third place finish at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open.
Hull’s also dropped in on four LPGA events this year — the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, the Kingsmill Championship and the Airbus LPGA Classic — and picked up a pair of top-10 finishes to add to her resume.
And Webb’s also likely to face some serious competition from Aussie Minjee Lee, the top-ranked amateur Webb’s been actively mentoring for several years. Lee, the two-time Australian Amateur Champion, won the Oates Women’s Victoria Open by six shots on the Australian Ladies’ Professional Golf tour earlier this year and finished second in the Volvik RACV Masters and she’s also been getting some seasoning on the LPGA Tour, playing in the co-sanctioned ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open as well as the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the US Women’s Open, as she moves inexorably toward turning pro.
LET Champions on the Tee
A field of 144 competitors representing 33 nationalities with more than 300 international titles will tee up in the LET’s home tournament. Among Webb’s challengers: Deloitte Ladies Open champion Kylie Walker and four time Major winner Dame Laura Davies. They are joined by Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup team members Annabel Dimmock and Georgia Hall, as well as Stephanie Meadow.
Twelve-time LET champion and veteran Solheimer Gwladys Nocera, Valentine Derrey, the winner of the recent Turkish Airlines Ladies Open, and talented amateur Mathilda Cappeliez, 16, who recently made the cut at the US Women’s Open are standouts among the 17 French players teeing off at the Ladies European Masters.
In addition to Minjee Lee, Webb will be facing off against three more talented Aussies, World No.5 amateur Su-Hyun Oh, who finished second in the 2013 Volvik RACV Masters, as well as Stacey Keating and Rebecca Artis, the 2013 Helsingborg Open champion.
The 2014 Volvik RACV Masters champion Cheyenne Woods, LPGA regulars Katie Allen and Amelia Lewis, LET fixtures Beth Allen, Mallory Fraiche, Tessa Teachman and Hannah Jun will be waving the stars and stripes for the United States at the European Masters.
Karrie Webb won’t lack for quality competition. United States fans can follow the action as the rounds unfold on the LET live monitor.