Karrie Webb - Agony to Ecstacy
BY Bruce Young | LPGA Tour | 2014 ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open | Wrap | 16 Feb 2014
Just nine days after what must have been one of the worst moments of her career when disqualified on the Gold Coast, Karrie Webb has rebounded with a superb victory over one of Australia’s best layouts and a strong LPGA field with a narrow but convincing victory in the ISPS Women’s Australian Open at the Victoria Golf Club.
For Webb it was her fifth Australian Open title, her 40th LPGA victory and her 53rd overall adding further to her right to be called or at least considered as Australia’s greatest ever player.
Webb began the final round some five shots behind and one hour ahead of the the joint leaders, Minjee Lee and Chella Choi, but given the lack of winning experience of that pair many felt the hurdle Webb would have to overcome if she was to win was the presence of world number two Suzann Pettersen and the brilliant Lydia Ko.
Webb, though, felt the change in conditions might just play into her favour. “I feel very fortunate to have won today but I liked my chances at the start of the day because of the wind picking up. If we had another day like we had the first three days, I probably was a little too far back to have a chance, so I was thankful for the weather changing and I played as good as I have in a very long time,” she said.
“I was hitting some quality shots early on and I realised that I’d gotten into that mindset and so I stayed on top of myself to make sure that that’s what I did and never tried to hit a shot. I just played the shot that the conditions dictated,” Webb added.
The greatest concern over her early departure last week was that she missed out on valuable ’time in the middle’ as they would say in cricket but referring in this case to missing the chance to play competitively over the weekend at RACV Royal Pines.
As Webb has often shown however she comes to hand quickly, often playing well early in the season, especially at home, and with the chance to practice a little at a private facility on the Gold Coast last Sunday she headed for Melbourne feeling at least a little better about her game than had been the case over the opening two days in Queensland.
“It’s amazing what happens, what a difference a week makes. Obviously this time last week I wouldn’t be expecting to be sitting here, so I’m glad things changed around quickly for me,” Webb said.
If ever there was a player who personifies the saying ’when the going gets tough the tough get going’ it is Karrie Webb. Time and time again she is proven herself on the great golf courses under demanding conditions and today the Victoria Golf Club was a lot more demanding than the pushover it was showing itself to be under the benign conditions of days one, two and three.
Webb knew it and said as much. "I’m not sure if I saw it coming, but sometimes for me the tougher the conditions the better because I have to really get out of my head. I have to not think technically. I think when the conditions are milder you try to be more perfect, I think because the conditions are easy so you should be shooting low scores. When the conditions are tough I think I get out of that mindset and I just feel the shot that I need to. That’s what I was doing today.
“I realised that early on. I was hitting some quality shots early on and I realised that I’d gotten into that mindset and so I stayed on top of myself to make sure that that’s what I did and never tried to hit a shot. I just played the shot that the conditions dictated.”
If she was to be a genuine treat to her rivals today and to put the greatest pressure on them however she need a fast start and she got just that with birdies at her opening two holes.
Choi, with countless runner-up finishes on the LPGA Tour, appeared to be handling the prospect of her first victory well when she birdied the all but reachable first hole but then disaster struck when she hit her tee shot out of bounds at the second then bogeyed the third.
All of a sudden Webb was no longer just a possible threat she was the threat, especially as Pettersen began to disintegrate. The Norwegian’s chances effectively disappeared with a triple bogey at the second and the real race developed between Webb, Choi, Ko, Paula Creamer and Karine Icher.
Webb kept pressing forward. She shrugged off a slight hiccup when she bogeyed the par three 4th but birdies at the 8th, 11th and 13th had her at 12 under and ahead by one.
Webb was playing over an hour ahead of the final group of Choi and Lee and after two putting her final hole for birdie to regain the shot she lost at the par three 16th she would be forced to wait while Choi and others chased the birdies they needed to catch her.
None was able to do so and so Webb enjoyed her moment of triumph so soon after her traumatic moment nine days earlier.“Actually, I forgot to mention on the 18th, but a couple of years ago Stacy Keating signed for a wrong score at the British Open and obviously she was devastated and then she went and won the next two weeks that she played.
“She text me last week and said, remember what happened to me after I got DQ’d. I actually thought about that when I was walking up 18, that that might come true for me as well. Definitely a different feeling than last week.”
“I mean, it wasn’t something that was easy to shake off and still isn’t because it’s been very hard for me to walk out of the score tent this week until they’ve checked my score card about four times (laughing).
Choi again finished second with Karine Icher, Lydia Ko and Paula Creamer tied for 3rd.
With the greatest of respect, those finishing behind her mattered little however. Webb would not be without the right to claim this as one of her most satisfying victories more especially because of the capacity she displayed to overcome adversity in the way she has.
Last week there were no doubt tears of despair, perhaps tonight for Webb there will be tears of joy.
All but one of Webb’s five Women’s Australian Open victories have come on the sublime courses of the Melbourne sandbelt where the greats shine. Today one of, if not the, greatest Australian golfer of all time again showed why she has the right to be recognised as just that.