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Webb driven by Olympics

Date

David Polkinghorne

Karrie Webb says she is in fine form despite going through 2012 winless.

Karrie Webb says she is in fine form despite going through 2012 winless. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

Karrie Webb's ''best golf in years'' has Australia's greatest female golfer excited about the year ahead and a tilt at her second Women's Australian Open.

Webb said Royal Canberra would be one of the ''best courses'' she would play next year and was hopeful she was rediscovering her best golf.

While she didn't win a tournament this year, a handful of top-10 finishes in the second half of the year has her looking forward to the tournaments ahead.

She finished equal fifth at the British Open at Royal Liverpool and equal second at the Evian Masters in France.

''I didn't get a win but I played fairly consistently from start to finish, which was good to see at the end,'' Webb said.

''It makes me excited to start next year because I saw a lot of good results at the end of the year.''

The 38-year-old has her sights set on being part of the Australian team for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

She plans to do everything she can to be at the top of her game and give herself the best chance of selection for the Games.

''That's my long-term goal is to be good enough to make the Australian team in four years,'' she said.

''I don't really see past that, my focus is to work hard for the next four years and hopefully be one of the members of the Australian Olympic team and just make a decision from there.''

Webb has only played at Royal Canberra once, as part of the Queensland schoolgirls team in 1989 when a pilots' strike meant she had to take a 44-hour bus ride from Ayr, in north Queensland.

But she still rated it as one of the best courses in the world.

She said Australian courses forced you to be creative - something American ones don't.

It will be the last time Royal Canberra will host an Australian Ladies Professional Golf tournament after hosting three Royal Canberra Ladies Classics previously.

The future of the Ladies Masters, in Queensland, is also in doubt as it struggles to find funding.

Webb answered an SOS from the tournament she has won a record seven times and will play there again.

She said golf in general was struggling and the governing bodies needed to ''reinvent'' the game and find its ''niche'' in the market.

''Rugby league and AFL and cricket, that's where companies seem to be putting their money and we've got to find our niche in that market because the Australian golf season's only for a few months and we've got to try and reinvent ourselves a little bit to try and get us back on TV,'' Webb said.

While Webb wants to be a part of the Olympics, she hopes the Rio Games also inspire a new generation of golfers.

She said most countries took pride in their Olympic results and was hopeful an investment could be made in the sport because medals would now be on the line.

Webb said a healthy domestic golf tour was essential to provide pathways for young golfers to turn professional and make it to the top of the sport.

''When golf was named in the Olympics, I actually thought that would create a bit more buzz in Australia and a little bit more funding because the government typically has supported Olympic sports financially more than others,'' she said.

''To have young kids aspire to play professional golf you've got to have tournaments for them to say, 'I want to do that when I grow up.'''

The Australian Women's Open is on at Royal Canberra from February 14-17.

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