Aussie repeat one tough feat with dream field

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Katherine Hull is still getting in the swing of how to dress in the wild west.

Presented with a white cowboy hat yesterday at Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club, the rising LPGA Tour star twisted it back and forth a couple times before finally resting it atop her head.

"I didn't want to put it on backwards," she explained.

"It's easy with a baseball cap, but a bit different with a cowboy hat. But I kind of like it."

It's all uncharted territory for the affable Aussie these days.

Hull, 27, will tee off as defending champion at the 2009 CN Canadian Women's Open Sept. 3-6 at Priddis Greens after winning her first LPGA Tour title last August in Ottawa.

"Because this is the first time I'm defending, everything is kind of new," she said. "I'll just go out there and try to treat it like I normally do, just try to, I guess, shoot the lowest score possible."

The way the field for Canada's only LPGA Tour stop is shaping up, Hull will have to shoot out the lights if she wants to hang on to her trophy.

The Royal Canadian Golf Association announced yesterday a slate of former champions -- including Hull, Mexico's Lorena Ochoa, Australia's Karrie Webb and Americans Meg Mallon and Cristie Kerr -- have confirmed their attendance for the Labour Day long weekend showdown at Priddis Greens.

They'll join a field already headlined by rising stars Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Natalie Gulbis, Brittany Lincicome and Yani Tseng, plus Canadians Lorie Kane and Alena Sharp.

If you're desperate to find out who else has been invited, a quick scan of the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings should do the trick.

"We're hoping to have 50 of the top-50 players in the world," said tourney director Sean Van Kesteren.

"Not many tournaments -- men's or women's -- can say that."

Hull, a former collegiate star at Pepperdine University and two-time winner on Australia's women's pro circuit, hopes every other invitee is planning to tee it up at Canada's Open championship.

"The past couple of years, the depth of our tour has just gotten greater and greater, and it's exciting to see and I think we're all kind of pushing each other and making each other better players, and it's doing wonders for the tour," Hull said.

"If we can get 50 of the top 50, I'd be ecstatic, and I think this tournament deserves that. It'd be more fun come Sunday if you're in contention knowing that the world's best players are here and competing."

Few figured Hull was in contention at the 2008 CN Canadian Women's Open at the Ottawa Golf and Hunt Club, where she was trailing by six strokes after three days.

Hull made four birdies en route to a 3-under 69 in the final round and surged past Taiwan's Tseng, who tumbled down the leaderboard after holding a four-stroke lead.

"The biggest boost in winning is what it does for your confidence," Hull said yesterday.

"My golf coach and I had been working on a lot of things and it was only a matter of time before it all kicked in, but winning really solidified everything. It proves to yourself that you can do it and that all that hard work does pay off."

The question is, can she do it again?


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