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World's best prepare for windswept Adelaide

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The top two women players in the world will meet for the first time in competition this year at the ISPS Handa Australian Open at Royal Adelaide today.

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Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and New Zealand’s World No.1 Lydia Ko are both in the star studded LPGA event, which will be Ko’s first for 2017.

The links-style Par 73 course demands accuracy and will be particularly challenging if the forecast strong winds arrive on the weekend.

Jutanugarn said she would continue to focus on processes rather than outcomes in 2017 following a whirlwind 2016 where she claimed five titles and rocketed into the World No.2 position.

“I mean, there’s going to be a lot of expectation from other people, so I want to play with my own expectations, so I don’t worry about the ranking at all,” she told a press conference in Adelaide yesterday.

“I love the course, it’s in great shape and the course is so hard and really challenging, especially the greens… if the wind picks up, it’s going to be so hard.”

Ko said the course’s heavy bunkering and thick rough would make placement from the tee critical this week.

She said Royal Adelaide was a different kind of challenge to The Grange, almost next door, where the event was held last year.

“Royal Adelaide is definitely a different set-up, a different look, but I think for me, I’m pretty sure it will be breezy the next few days and to be smart and to be able to use the wind and not try to fight it,” Ko said.

“Keeping it on the fairways is huge here because it’s not very friendly outside the short stuff.

“It’s a great place and again here, it’s a great track and for the person that’s winning, they would have played some amazing golf.”

Malaysia’s only LPGA player Kelly Tan has prepared by spending time with her Australian coach Ian Trigg during tournament week after finishing in a tie for 47th with Jutanugarn at last month’s season-opening LPGA event in the Bahamas.

“Every year is getting better and I look forward to 2017 to see what it has got in store for me. I’m working with my coach and we’re heading in the right direction so we’re very excited for this year,” the 23-year old said.

Tan finished 87th on the LPGA money list in 2016, her third season on the world’s premier tour.

She finished in a tie for 28th at the Australian Open last year at The Grange, and said the often windswept links of Royal Adelaide would suit her game.

“I love the golf course so I’m looking forward to playing the week,” Tan said.

“You have to be very accurate with your drives and that’s the strength of my game so hopefully I can make something happen.

“I always love coming to Australia to play because every time you come here you can’t fault the golf courses. I love the bunkers and it’s just different to the US.”

The field for the event also includes defending champion Haru Nomura, Michelle Wie and exciting Canadian teenager Brooke Henderson.

The Aussies will have a strong representation led by Karrie Webb, Minjee Lee and Sue Oh in what is being billed as one of the strongest women’s fields ever assembled Down Under.

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