Fresh off the plane ahead this week’s $1.1 million Australian Women’s Open, American golfer Morgan Pressel believes playing a course like Royal Melbourne is “a treat” for players on the LPGA tour.
On what is only the 23-year-old’s second to trip to Australian — her first time in Melbourne — she said today she was looking forward to the tournament getting under way later this week, which has attracted six of the world’s top ten players.
Pressel, who was the youngest-ever winner of an LPGA major when she was just 18 in 2007 — 313 days after she turned professional — said while she was yet to check out the acclaimed sandbelt course, she got some insight watching last year’s President’s Cup.
“I definitely saw how it was firm and fast,” she said. “They had a ton of trouble holding some of the greens and even putting off greens; it was pretty crazy.”
And the world No. 16 said she could hardly wait to get out there herself.
“I’m looking forward to it,’’ she said. “I think it will be a fun test. Any time we can play on one of the best courses in the world is a special week. We play a lot of nice courses on tour but we don’t play a great number of truly the best courses… To play a course like this is definitely a treat for us.”
Asked whether 14-year-old New Zealand sensation Lydia Ko, who won the NSW Open last month, made her feel old, Pressel agreed that players were “definitely getting younger”.
“That has been a trend over the last 10 years. It is almost the younger you can get out, the better,” she said. “I thought I was fairly young, but when I come out here I feel old. It is a different feeling for me. To think of that girl winning at 14 in a professional event is pretty amazing.”
And Pressel, who is now in her seventh year as a professional and finished runner-up in last year’s LPGA Championship, will get to see Ko’s form for herself this week.
Fellow American Lexi Thompson, who became the youngest player in history to win an LPGA event at age 16 years at last September’s Navistar Classic, before she followed up by becoming the youngest professional to win on the Ladies European Tour at the season ending Dubai Ladies Masters, will also be among the line-up.
The one to beat will be World No.1 Yani Tseng, who has taken out the last two Australian Women’s Open titles.
“I don’t know that you can reel her in,” Pressel said of Tseng. “You have just got to try and beat her. You continue to work and continue to work harder… She challenges all of us to elevate our games to higher levels.”
Also competing is Norway’s Suzann Pettersen (No.2), Korean Jiyai Shin (No.7) and Americans Cristie Kerr (No.4), Stacy Lewis (No.9) and Brittany Lincicome (No.10).
Australians Katherine Hull, Nikki Campbell, Sarah Kemp, Kristie Smith, Lindsey Wright and Frances Bondad will join Karrie Webb as the local challengers.
The event, which runs from February 6-12, is co-sanctioned with the American LPGA Tour for the first time.