Golf: Webb extends lead, says top ranking possible

Karrie Webb of Australia tees off on the seventh hole during the second round of the HSBC Women's Champions at Sentosa Golf Club on 28 February 2014.

SINGAPORE - Australian veteran Karrie Webb said she was capable of a sensational rise to world number one as she extended her brilliant run of form by taking a two-shot lead at the HSBC Women's Champions on Friday.

Webb, a 40-time LPGA tour winner, used all her experience as she recovered from two late bogeys to return a solid three-under-par 69 for an aggregate score of nine-under 135 at Singapore's par-72 Sentosa Golf Club.

Webb, 39, topped the leaderboard two strokes ahead of fellow former winner Angela Stanford, 36, who recorded 69 on day two. Taiwan's Teresa Lu was a shot further back in lone third.

"Two old ducks, I guess," said Webb sarcastically, referring to the top two. "Did you ask any of the young players if it's hard to play against girls in their 30s?"

Webb has been the form player early in the season, upstaging youngsters including New Zealand's Lydia Ko, 16, and winning the Women's Australian Open with a charge on the final day.

And Webb, already ranked seventh, admitted that reaching number one was a possibility. She has not held the position since the official rankings were devised in 2006, and last topped the LPGA money list in 2000.

"I'll just try and focus on playing good and wherever that takes me, it takes me," she said.

"Fifteen years ago I woke up and I was going to do whatever it took to be number one. I know I'm capable of doing that but it's not something I live and die for.

"I'm still going to enjoy my life away from golf and not let the game maybe consume me as much as it did when I was younger."

Among Webb's career highlights is her 1996 season, when she became the first player to win $1 million in one year. In 1999, she made a record 16 straight top 10s. She is also a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

"I achieved some amazing things being completely and solely golf only, 10-15 years ago," said Webb, who now travels with a full-time osteopath. "But if I was that person now I wouldn't even be playing, I wouldn't enjoy it."

On Friday, Webb missed a three-foot par putt on 13 and hooked into the water off the tee two holes later for another bogey, her third of the day. But she steadied herself to birdie 17 and extend her overnight lead.

Elsewhere Norway's Suzann Pettersen, who has a chance of becoming world number one if she wins this week, drained a 40-foot eagle putt on the last hole for 70 and a share of ninth, six shots back from Webb.

South Korean Park In-Bee, who is clinging to the top ranking after a reign of 46 weeks, was level par for the day to leave her one behind Pettersen and tied for 13th.

Teenage sensation Ko recovered from her opening round of 73 and two bogeys in her first three holes to finish with 69, leaving her level with Park at seven strokes back heading into the weekend.

American star Michelle Wie returned with 73 to lie nine shots adrift alongside Taiwan's former world number one Tseng Ya-ni, whose search for form continues after rounds of 73 and 71.