Karrie Webb dodges another rules breach to win Women’s Aussie Open for 5th time

Scott Barbour

Karrie Webb was a week removed from an embarrassing DQ at the Australian Ladies Masters when a rules official saved her from incurring another penalty at the Women’s Australian Open.

Karrie Webb’s 40th LPGA Tour victory, which came a week after she was disqualified from the Australian Ladies Masters for signing an incorrect scorecard, was not without its own rules brouhaha.

Webb, who defeated Chella Choi by one stroke on Sunday, nearly incurred a two-shot penalty to kick off last week’s Women’s Australian Open. In Thursday’s first round at Victoria Golf Club, before Webb took her first swing of the event, rules official John Hopkins disturbed her pre-shot preparations.

Hopkins, chair of Golf Australia and the rules chief on the 10th tee, which was Webb’s starting point, informed the seven-time majors winner that she had teed up her ball about a dimple in front of the tee markers. While Hopkins prevented Webb from suffering the penalty -- which, as it turned out, would have cost her the victory -- she was not inclined to pardon the interruption.

"How’s that?" Kerr, who reportedly disagreed with Hopkins’ eagle-eyed view of the proceedings, asked after moving her ball back behind the markers, according to multiple news accounts.

After getting the go-ahead from Hopkins, Kerr hit her opening drive and finished the day with a 1-under 71 and the week at 12-under.

The World Golf Hall of Famer went on to win the Aussie Open for the fifth time and regain the confidence to put winning another major on her to-do list.

"If I can do the mental job that I did especially today," Webb told reporters about her chances to earn grand slam triumph No. 8, "I think I did a pretty good job all week and especially the weekend, if I maintain that standard then I think I can."

As for the brouhaha with Hopkins, who may have saved her further embarrassment with his unpopular call on Thursday, Webb addressed that after first-round action.

"John Hopkins thought that my ball was ahead of the tee markers, which no one else in my group did, but as long as he did ...," Webb said. "Yeah, as long as he felt useful, I guess that's a good thing."

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