Webb and Pettersen locked at the top

(Melbourne, 2 March 2002) Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and World number two Karrie Webb from Australia are locked at the top of the leaderboard on seven under par after three rounds of the $Aus500,000 AAMI Women’s Australian Open at Yarra Yarra GC in Melbourne.

Webb – hitting the ball better

The pair spurned good birdie opportunities at the tenth and 11th, while the Norwegian recovered bravely from the greenside bunker after a poor approach at the 12th, keeping in touch.

The Australian moved into a two shot lead with a 20-foot birdie putt at the 14th before a three putt bogey at the next.

With two par fives to play in the last three holes, Pettersen tied the lead with a two putt birdie at the 16th, with Webb, unluckily catching the top lip of the bunker on her approach, settling for a par.

And at the final hole, both players could not capitalise on huge drives, Webb catching her approach heavy and to the left, while the 2001 Evian Tour rookie of the year found the greenside bunker.

Pettersen only just extracted her ball from the sand leaving a thirty-foot birdie putt, while Webb chipped to 15 feet. Two putts later each, they were well clear of the pack.

“I’m not complaining with that, but I am struggling to get the three and four metre putts in, I hope they come tomorrow, I might need them,” said Pettersen, who showed little nerves while playing with Webb for the first time.

“I’m a little bit excited when I stand on the first tee with all the crowd, but I feel quite comfortable. It’s a moment you practice for all winter, it’s the feeling standing there, ready to go, feeling comfortable. The feelings that come through your head make you feel so strong, that’s why I play golf, it’s the feeling I am looking for.”

Webb, the winner her in 2000, was happier with her round today and felt in control of her game.

“I felt like I hit the ball better today, especially with my irons off the tee,” said the 27-year-old from Queensland.

“On the closing holes, I hit my driver better and got myself on the fairway. All in all I feel pretty good about things.

And the World number two, who knew nothing of the young Norwegian before today, was impressed by Pettersen’s course management and powerful style of play and predicted she would be a rival for the future.

“She played really well today, I was impressed with her course management. I’d not seen her hit a ball before, she hits it pretty strong and has a good all round game, I was quite impressed – She really thought her way around the course, that is a step in the right direction.”

Both players agreed that it will not be a matchplay event on Sunday. Webb for one knows that anything can happen in this game.

“I don’t think so,” Webb added. “This course can give up low numbers, we’ve seen that over the years. I wouldn’t count out people who are five or six shots back, especially if conditions are as tough as the last three days, you never know what can happen. I would like to go out and play similar golf tomorrow and I think I will have a good chance if I do that.”