The generation next of women’s golf put their hands up on Thursday as serious threats to Karrie Webb’s chase for a ninth Australian Ladies Masters crown on the Gold Coast.
American duo Jessica Korda and Katie Burnett shot five-under-par 68s to share the lead after the opening round at Royal Pines.
The pair are a shot clear of five players on four-under, including Tiger Woods’ niece Cheyenne Woods, and seven others at three-under, including Australians Kristie Smith and Sarah Kemp.
Eight-time champion Webb had a slow start to her tournament, shooting just one birdie and two bogeys in a disappointing one-over 74 to leave her in a tie for 59th.
Korda, 20, carried over the form that delivered her victory in the LPGA season-opening Bahamas Classic in January to take a one-shot lead into the clubhouse before Burnett charged home in the afternoon to snatch a share of the lead.
Best known on these shores as the daughter of 1998 Australian Open tennis champion Petr, Korda is quickly developing a reputation of her own after making 21 cuts from 21 events in 2013.
The world No.24 shot eight birdies and three bogeys in her impressive round, and says her familiarity with Australia – she claimed her first professional win at the 2012 Australian Open – is always a bonus to her game.
“I’ve been coming her since I was a baby so I love it here,” she said.
“In 2012 I spent four weeks here and the first week was odd. I don’t know what I was getting myself into, I didn’t know anything. Now I come here and I’m like, point me to the nearest Telstra shop and I want my bubble tea.”
Burnett is on her first trip to Australia but flew home with five of her six birdies coming on the back nine, including two on her last two holes, to move into a share of the lead.
The 24-year-old, who briefly led the British Open last year, said this was the first time as a professional she had been top of the leaderboard at the end of a day in a significant event.