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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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."