Sarah Kemp birdied four of five holes on the front nine and shot a 6-under 66 Thursday for a one-stroke lead over fellow Australians Karrie Webb and Nikki Campbell at the Women's Australian Open. Coming off a resurgent 2006 in which won five tournaments on the LPGA Tour, including her second Kraft Nabisco Championship, Webb eagled the par-5 16th her second eagle of the day to pull within a stroke of Kemp. But Webb missed a 3.5-meter (11-foot) birdie putt on the 18th that would have put her into a tie for the lead. She is attempting to win her third Australian Open title. Kemp, 21, is a regular on the Ladies European Tour, which is co-sanctioning the event at Royal Sydney. Playing the back nine first where she finished 2-under 34, she birdied the first, second, fourth and fifth holes to start her final nine. Star golfer Kemp is often compared with Webb as the next star Australian golfer. "It's a compliment," Kemp said of the comparison. "That's flattering that people could think that. But there's no pressure. What happens, happens. I'll just go out there and play my game." Campbell, who earned more than US$400,000 on the Japanese tour last year, had a 7-under 29 on her first nine holes. But bogeys on the third and ninth holes gave her a 2-over 38 on her final nine for a 67. "It was a dream nine holes," Campbell said. "Putts went in, I hit it straight, it all seemed to fall into place and before I knew it I was seven-under. "I was a bit nervous (on the last nine) because obviously you don't do that every day." Wei Yun-jye of Taiwan shot a 68 and is alone in fourth. Amy Yang, an Australian-based South Korean who won last year's ANZ Australian Ladies Masters, is tied with two others with 69s, three shots back. World match play championship winner Brittany Lincicome of the United States had a 70 Thursday and is tied for ninth. Laura Davies of Britain, who won the Australian Open when it was last played in 2004, shot a 73. American Natalie Gulbis, a regular on the LPGA Tour, shot a 2-over 74. She admitted there was plenty of pressure for her to do well in Australia. "Absolutely," Gulbis said. "They invited me here and I'm not only representing myself and the United States, but also being a player from the LPGA Tour and coming over and playing a non-LPGA Tour event." Gulbis has not won a tournament in the United States, but had seven top-10 finishes in 26 events last season, including a tie for third behind Webb at the Kraft Nabisco, one of the tour's majors. Webb, Gulbis, Davies and defending champion Yang are also entered in next week's Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, which is also co-sanctioned with the European Tour.
Topics : Golf