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Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, the last back-to-back winner of the U.S. Women's Open, is still hungry for competition at age 40 and likes her chances in this week's edition at Lancaster Country Club.
"It's my favorite event, just because it's the golf course each year that asks the most of you," the Australian told Reuters as she walked off the practice putting green on the eve of Thursday's opening round.
Seven-times major winner Webb, playing in her 20th U.S. Women's Open and with a career profile that spans three pages in the tournament's Player Guide, remains a contender.
At 18th ranked one spot behind 25-year-old Michelle Wie, last year's Open champion, Webb won twice on tour last year and finished tied for seventh last month in the Women's PGA Championship major in New York.
Asked about the key to her longevity, Webb said: "I still want to do it. I still want to put the hard work in. I like to compete. That's why I'm here."
Webb thinks her golf is equal to when she claimed the first of her two U.S. Opens in a row 15 years ago.
"Physically, as good as it's been," she said, a determined glint in her piercing green eyes. "It's just a matter of scoring better and getting the ball in the hole.
"I'm working hard on my putting. I need to see a few more putts go in. Once that starts to happen it sort of frees up the rest of your game."
Webb said the level of play on the tour has improved.
"Obviously, girls are fitter and stronger. You see a lot more girls hitting it a lot further. I'm trying to keep up with them.
"At 21 I was the youngest on tour and I came out ready to play," she said. "It seems like they're ready earlier. Now when they're 21 they've been on tour two or three years. I think it's more diverse."
The Australian said she had a positive outlook about this championship. "I feel good about things. For me, it's about controlling my emotions, maybe not getting expectations up too high.
"I know I'll have a tough few holes here and there. That's always been my challenge at a U.S. Open, controlling my emotions and just playing the course."
As for the future, Webb is eyeing the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"I'm fully committed to a full schedule through the Olympics next year and then we'll see," she said. "I'm really excited.
"I'm a sports nut and always been an Olympics fan. Never until a few years ago did I think I'd have the opportunity. Something that was never a goal has become the dangling carrot the last few years."
Editing by Andrew Both