Webb a Factor Once Again

By Associated PressApril 19, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Florida Natural Charity ChampionshipSTOCKBRIDGE, Ga. -- Welcome back, Karrie Webb.
 
On Wednesday, the Aussie was actually summoned to the interview room BEFORE a tournament, which goes with the territory when you're coming off a major championship but hasn't been a regular part of her routine the past few years.
 
And get this: the media-shy Webb didn't even seem to mind sitting down with reporters.
 
'I still don't like how much time it takes up,' she said. 'But I will handle things a lot better if I'm able to put myself in the spotlight again.'
 
Heading into the Florida's Natural Charity Championship at Eagles Landing Country Club south of Atlanta, Webb is again a player to be reckoned with on the LPGA Tour.
 
Her unexpected victory three weeks ago at the Kraft Nabisco Championship showed that she has no intention of fading away in her early 30s. If anything, Webb hopes to reclaim the form that once made her the most dominating force in the women's game.
 
'I want to be in position to win tournaments more often,' said Webb, who just returned from a couple of weeks in Australia and will be playing for the first time since her victory. 'My goal is to get back to at least the standard I was playing a few years ago.'
 
Webb joined the LPGA Tour in 1996 and immediately shot to the top of the rankings. She was the world's No. 1 player three of her first five years and seemed unbeatable during the 1999 and 2000 seasons, when she won 13 times -- including three majors -- and finished in the top three at 27 of her 47 events.
 
'If I could go back in time and you asked me whether I took it for granted, the answer would be, 'No,'' Webb said. 'But deep down, I always thought I would play that good my whole career without any road bumps.'
 
Webb completed a career grand slam in 2001, doing it quicker than anyone -- yep, even Tiger Woods. But she ceded the No. 1 spot to Annika Sorenstam, and fell farther and farther behind in the years that followed.
 
In 2005, Webb endured her worst season yet. She failed to win a tournament and slumped to 27th in the rankings. Her scoring average jumped nearly a full stroke higher than it had the previous year.
 
With Sorenstam still dominating and an influx of talented teenagers joining the tour, Webb was on the verge of becoming an afterthought.
 
Not anymore.
 
'I'm pretty disappointed in the year I had last year,' Webb said. 'To get back to the winner's circle felt really good.'
 
Webb and Sorenstam are the only players to be ranked No. 1 over the past 11 years. In fact, it was Webb's emergence that spurred the Swede to take her game to another level a few years ago.
 
Sorenstam looks forward to a renewed rivalry.
 
'Karrie has been up there at the top. She knows how to play, and she has bounced back,' Sorenstam said. 'I kind of missed those times when we went back and forth. I'm really happy for her.'
 
Nineteen-year-old Paula Creamer, who won twice on the tour during her rookie season, believes that all those impatient youngsters are now chasing two players: Sorenstam and Webb.
 
'It's unbelievable how much talent Karrie has,' Creamer said. 'Along with Annika, those are the women who did it all. Karrie had a little rest period, but now she's back. She wants it bad. You can see it in her eyes. It's great to have two players of that caliber, competing at that level.'
 
Webb's victory at the first major of the year was as improbable as it was surprising. She knocked in a pitching wedge from 116 yards for eagle on the 72nd hole, then beat Lorena Ochoa in a playoff.
 
Even so, Webb isn't ready to proclaim that she's all the way back. Her game suffered through a period of swing changes and shaky putting, and she's yet to regain the unwavering confidence that marked her glory years.
 
'It's just one tournament,' Webb said. 'I must continue to do that for the rest of the year to say I'm back.'
 
If this isn't just an aberration, Webb plans to relish it a lot more than she did the last time. Every good shot will be savored. Every victory will be appreciated.
 
'It's good to struggle a little bit,' she said. 'I've never enjoyed winning a golf tournament as much as I did that one a couple of weeks ago.'
 
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  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.