Webb eager to repay US Open lifeline

Evin Priest
Karrie Webb has been granted a special exemption to play in her 23rd consecutive US Women's Open

Karrie Webb says she wants to repay officials for granting her a rare special exemption in the US Women's Open by turning on a vintage display as she extends her record appearance at the event.

In March, organisers at the United States Golf Association granted the two-time champion a special exemption into the event which starts on Thursday at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

After the 10-year exemption for her 2001 victory expired with the 2011 edition, Webb has earned a place through other exemption categories each year since.

But having entered semi-retirement and playing only three LPGA Tour events this year, the 43-year-old needed a lifeline.

Webb, who already owned the record, will now make her 23rd consecutive appearance.

Arguably Australia's greatest golfer, the seven-time major winner says she is honoured to add to her World Golf Hall of Fame career.

"It's not something that you ever set out to do but it is special to have competed at so many (US Women's Opens)," Webb said on Tuesday.

"I'm very grateful to the USGA for granting me a special exemption to continue my streak."

Se Ri Pak was the last player to receive a special exemption in 2016, which followed Juli Inkster in 2013 and Laura Davies in 2009.

But Webb insists she's not teeing up at Shoal Creek to make up the numbers, buoyed by a tie for 19th at the recent Kingsmill Championship - her last start on tour.

"Having only played a few events this year, I definitely come into the US Open as fresh as ever," Webb said.

"I had a solid (result) in my last start, so I'm hoping to build on that this week.

"My game feels good so I don't see why I can't play well this week."

The event has endured a soggy start, with heavy rain forcing officials to close Shoal Creek entirely on Tuesday and it is forecast to remain for most of the week.

"The weather has been frustrating but I was able to play 18 holes (Monday) and get some practice done today," Webb said.

"It will still be challenging but it won't be the firm, bouncy conditions we're used to at the US Open."

However world No.8 Minjee Lee is easily Australia's best hope at Shoal Creek.

The 22-year-old Perth native bagged her fourth title on the LPGA Tour at last week's Volvik Championship in Michigan.

Despite owning just two top-10 results from 20 starts at the major level, Lee is a genuine contender for a maiden victory.

Fellow Australian Su Oh enters Shoal Creek coming off a share of fourth place in Michigan, while Queenslander Katherine Kirk will play her 14th US Women's Open looking to improve on a best finish of 25th.

Sarah Jane Smith will also peg it up, while Sarah Kemp and Robyn Choi round out the Australian contingent having snared entry via sectional qualifying.