Katherine Kirk makes fast start at Australian Open

AAP [ Source: ESPN ] - February 17, 2017

An evergreen Queensland golfer has made a scorching start to the Australian Open - but it's not Karrie Webb.

Katherine Kirk, who has spent much of her 13 years on the pro tour in Webb's shadow, produced a flawless eight-under opening round on Thursday at Royal Adelaide.

While Webb wobbled to three-over, the 34-year-old Kirk laid the platform for what could be a career highlight.

"It would be my best win ever, really," Kirk said.

"As a kid you dream about winning your own national championship.

"I have won a Canadian Open, that felt pretty good. But being Aussie, being at home, in front of my family ... I would probably be bawling my eyes out."

Kirk's stunning 65 gave her a two-stroke buffer from Taiwan's Min Lee, Korean Chella Choi and American duo Marissa Steen and Jane Park.

Scotland's Michele Thomson shot five-under in her first round on the LPGA Tour, the same score as Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum.

And Canada's world No.8 Brooke Henderson and Australian Hannah Green were among a group who banked four-under totals.

Australia's top-ranked player Minjee Lee finished one-under and world No.1 Lydia Ko posted a two-under punctuated by two bogeys and four birdies.

"The putts didn't drop," Ko said.

But Kirk, who collected the last of her two LPGA titles seven years ago, had no such problems: she birdied four of her initial five holes.

"Lately I have probably struggled to put four good rounds together so that obviously is going to be the key this week, to get the next three under par," she said.

"I still feel like my best golf is ahead of me. I have just got to work a little harder.

"My ball striking is probably the best it has ever been, I have just got to my short game back to where it was in previous years, it's not quite where I want it to be."

Fellow veteran Webb's quest for a sixth national crown staggered from the start.

The 42-year-old, at one stage, was five-over - she made four bogeys in her first 10 holes.

"I just didn't swing it very well early on and, the further I went along, the worse it got," Webb said.

"And then I missed a few shorts putts. I had been feeling pretty good with the putter so that was a bit of a shock to the system."

Webb landed a pair of late birdies to save her round being a complete blow-out but the seven-time major winner faces a stiff task just to make the cut.

Source: http://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/18696226/katherine-kirk-makes-fast-start-australian-open-perth

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