Karrie Webb returns to LPGA action this week in Texas after a three week break following a modest showing at the first LPGA major of 2016, The ANA Inspiration.
The Hall of Famer has had a relatively quiet start to 2016 with just one top 10 finish at from her 6 LPGA starts, which came at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open where she contended for much of the week before finally finishing in third place.
It has been well documented that Webb has worked as hard as at any time in her career on swing changes over the past two years, and she feels that she is striking the ball if anything better than she did in her glory years in the mid to late nineties. Undoubtedly Webb still has the class to contend on the big stage, it is just a case of making some putts at the right moments for the 47 year old. The tricky Las Colinas Country Club layout should suit Webb, her experience and her ability to shape the ball both ways may prove to be the 15th club in her bag this week.
While Webb will be hoping for a change of fortune this week, teen sensation Minjee Lee will be hoping her great form of the past two weeks continues this week in Texas, she is coming off an impressive win two weeks ago at the Lotte Championship followed by an 11th place finish last week in tough conditions at the Swing Skirts LPGA Classic.
The impressive 19 year old from Perth has a reputation herself as one of the sweetest swingers and most impressive ball strikers on the LPGA Tour, and has also been undergoing some swing changes under the watchful eye of her long-time coach Ritchie Smith. Both coach and pupil felt that the one weakness that Minjee had was her ability to keep the ball low when needed, the new swing certainly has withstood the test the past two weeks and now her confidence has returned we may not as yet witnessed the best from the young superstar.
US Star Stacy Lewis returns as the only former tournament champion (2014) in the field after two-time winner and defending champion Inbee Park withdrew due to injury. Lewis, who has two other top-10 finishes in the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC and three top-10 finishes so far in 2016, is hoping to post another good result at a course that she says reminds her of the courses she played growing up in Texas.
“Well, first of all, it’s like coming home,” said Lewis of playing at Las Colinas. “This is the type of golf courses that I grew up playing on, a little bit hilly, a little bit funky, and you have to be a pretty good ball striker to play around here, and I think that’s what suited my game over the last few years. You know, just being closer to home makes things easier to play. You’re a little bit more relaxed, you’ve got more family around, just a little bit more of a fun week.”
The No. 4 player in the Rolex Rankings, Lewis has had the chance to catch up with several of the game’s rising stars during her time in Irving. Lewis is a big fan of the opportunities the VOA Texas Shootout provides to amateur golfers, and says that it motivates her to up her game as well.
“I love the way this tournament allows the kids the opportunity to come out and to play and to experience what tour life is like, what it takes to play on the LPGA,” Lewis said. “You have junior golf, you’ve won some tournaments and you think you’re doing pretty good, and you come out here and see how good the players are and say wow, I need to keep getting better. That’s the goal for them, to see where they can improve and where they can get better.”
The other ALPG members in the field this week are Su Oh, who by virtue of her solid finishes the past 2 weeks finds herself in an LPGA field for the third consecutive week, Katherine Kirk, Sarah Kemp and Sarah Jane Smith who are all chasing places in the ALPG International Crown team.
The 2016 Volunteers of America Texas Shootout presented by JTBC will be broadcast live in Australia starting on Friday morning on Fox Sports 3 from 2am AEDST.
For live scores go to http://www.lpga.com/leaderboard
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