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Down Under, Aussies Are Looking Up

Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Karrie Webb of Australia hits her tee shot on the 4th hole during the final round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic at the Crossings Course at the Robert Trent Jones Trail at Magnolia Grove on May 19, 2013 in Mobile, Alabama.

February 6 2014, Ward Clayton

As the “southern” portion of the LPGA schedule takes place next week in Australia at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, the home country’s participants are stoked about an opportunity to represent their homeland.

With the inaugural International Crown scheduled for July in Baltimore, Md., it marks the first time Australian women’s professionals have the chance to wear green and gold in an international competition of this magnitude. Among the eight qualifying countries, five will be involved for the first time in an international professional competition of more than two players. South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Australia and Chinese Tapei aren’t eligible for the Solheim Cup. The United States, Sweden and Spain are involved in that biennial competition.

Foremost among the Aussies is 39-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, who has won this week’s Australian Ladies Masters a record eight times and is ranked eighth in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

“I think it will be fun,” Webb said. “The team next year will be a lot of fun competing. It will be a blast. Really looking forward to it.”

Australia, currently ranked seventh among the eight countries, also lists Katherine Hull-Kirk (ranked 105th), Stacey Keating (114) and Lindsey Wright (125) on the four-player team. All of the country rosters will be finalized after the March 30 Kia Classic, based on the World Rankings, so there’s still time to move up.

“To be honest, I’ve been a little jealous of Solheim,” Sarah Jane Smith, who ranks sixth among the Aussies, said last summer. “I think it’s such an amazing experience to have something where I can represent my country as a professional. This is such a unique experience that I hope I’ll be a part of.” 

The best way to make up ground in the team standings and to qualify among the top four is top finishes. Last week the Ladies European Tour was in New Zealand and this week in Australia. Next week, the LPGA resumes its schedule at the historic Victoria Golf Club for the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. It will be the first time since 1976 that the Alistar MacKenzie-designed course has hosted the tournament.

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