Karrie Webb tees off during her opening round at the Women's Australian Open at The Grange Golf Club, Adelaide. Picture: David Mariuz/AAP
Karrie Webb tees off during her opening round at the Women's Australian Open at The Grange Golf Club, Adelaide. Picture: David Mariuz/AAP

Webb starts well in bid for sixth Australian Open crown

KARRIE Webb is relishing being the hunted again after a stunning start to her quest for a sixth Australian Open crown.

The Australian great carded a superb five-under 67 in Thursday's opening round at the Grange Golf Club in Adelaide.

The sentimental favourite is tied for second, two shots shy of the leaders, England's Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Taiwan's Wei-Ling Hsu.

Webb cashed in during calm morning conditions, landing five birdies in a hot seven-hole stretch.

The 44-year-old has scaled back her LPGA Tour commitments, playing just eight tournaments last year and missing the cut in the big three: the Australian Open, US Open and British Open.

But she's rapt to be again among the pacesetters.

"It's not easy to get off to a good start and be in position from day one and not feel like you're catching up on Friday," Webb said.

"I hit some good shots and saw some putts go in so I felt really comfortable there for about 11 holes.

"Then it got a little scratchy there through the middle ... (but) I made the most of the opportunities I had."

Webb shares second spot with Swede Madelene Sagstrom and England's Bronte Law.

A batch of golfers, including South Korea's defending champion Jin Young Ko and Australian Hannah Green, are four under.

"Every Australian wants to win their home open ... I definitely want to set myself up to be in contention on Sunday," Green said.

World No.1 Ariya Jutanugaran battled in afternoon breezes with two double-bogeys and two bogeys in her four-over 76.

Australia's top-ranked golfer, world No.7 Minjee Lee, finished with a one-under 71 and lamented some errors.

"I probably made a couple of soft bogeys but it's something to build on for tomorrow," Lee said.

New Zealand's former world No.1 Lydia Ko had four bogeys in a roller-coaster one-under round to be well adrift of leaders Hsu, who shot five back-nine birdies, and Ewart Shadoff, who made seven birdies in a blemish-free morning round.

"It was perfect conditions ... I hit some really close shots and holed some good putts," Ewart Shadoff said.

"I shot four birdies in a row right in the middle of my round and overall I just hit the ball well."

- AAP

News Corp Australia

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