Canberra will spring a few surprises for the wayward: Smith
Australia's Kristie Smith celebrates after winning the Royal Canberra Ladies Classic in 2010.
Five of the world's top-10 players will hit the fairways of the Royal Canberra Golf Club for the Women's Australian Open next month, but professional Kristie Smith says they might not like what they find.
The West Australian knows the course well, having won the Canberra Classic in 2010, shooting a final round of nine-under par, and says the Australians in the field will have an advantage over the top players from the LPGA Tour.
''I don't think a lot of LPGA players are going to like the golf course, I just don't think it's going to suit a lot of the players,'' she said.
''It's different to what they play in America, and when they come down to the Australian Open, usually it's in Melbourne and … they expect the hard and fast Melbourne sandbelt, so I think a lot of them aren't going to like the set-up and the golf course, which suits us Australian players a lot more.''
Smith will play the Ladies European Tour this year, but has played her fair share in the US on the Symetra Tour, and qualifying school for the LPGA.
''In America … a lot of them like to get the driver out and bomb it around, [but] I think you can get into trouble in places at Royal Canberra doing that. At Royal Canberra, you've got to think your way around the golf course.''
The player with the most local knowledge will be Canberra's Nikki Campbell, but she was circumspect about the advantage.
''I would like to think I had a bit of home-course knowledge and advantage, but at the end of the day, it's golf and you've got to play the best that week. There's a really strong field and I'll be doing my best, but there's no guarantees,'' Campbell said.
The field was strengthened on Tuesday when three new top-10 players were announced, but a potential drawcard, world No.12 Paula Creamer of the US, will not be making the trip.
Norway's world No.6 Suzann Pettersen, Korea's So Yeon Ryu (No.7), the 2011 US Open champion, and two-time British Open winner Jiyai Shin (No.8) are the top golfers who will join world No.1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan and reigning player of the year Stacy Lewis (No.3) to make it the strongest field ever for the Women's Australian Open.
''There's only one player we probably did want to try and get down as well, just to put some more icing on this big cake, and that was Paula Creamer, but unfortunately we weren't able to get her,'' tournament director Trevor Herden said.
The top-ranked players will be joined by former teen sensation Michelle Wie, Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger, defending champion Jessica Korda and four-time winner Karrie Webb.
The Open will feature two teen sensations, American 17-year-old Lexi Thompson and 15-year-old Lydia Ko of New Zealand, the world's top-ranked amateur and the youngest winner of an LPGA Tour event.
Ko shot to fame when she won the NSW Open last year as a 14-year-old. She went on to win the US Women's Amateur tournament, which gave her entry to the Canadian Open, shooting 13-under par to become the first amateur to win an LPGA tour event in 43 years, at just 15 years old.
As an amateur, she was not allowed to claim the winner's cheque of $CAD300,000, which went to the runner up, Inbee Park.
The Women's Australian Open is the first big event of Canberra's centenary year, and the capital is set to get worldwide exposure hosting the tournament.
''Going across the global platform from the LPGA, it will go to millions - it's unbelievable how far it will reach … just about every corner of the globe,'' Herden said.