Webb found kindred spirit in feisty Suggs

By Randall MellAugust 8, 2015, 7:23 pm

Louise Suggs couldn’t help seeing a little of herself in Karrie Webb.

They shared a feisty tough-mindedness that made them kindred spirits.

Maybe that’s why one of the 13 founders of the LPGA became such good friends with the rookie from Australia almost from the first time they met nearly 20 years ago.

No active LPGA player today was closer to Suggs than Webb, who now more than ever appreciates the special legacy Suggs leaves with Suggs’ passing Friday at 91.

“Louise never had children, but I think the LPGA and all of us were her children,” Webb told GolfChannel.com. “That’s the way Louise looked at it.”

In the moments after Webb won the Titleholders at LPGA headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1996, Suggs introduced herself. A firecracker of a personality, Suggs couldn’t help telling Webb that the $180,000 first-place check Webb just won was more money than Suggs earned her entire career.

“I didn’t even know how to respond to that comment,” Webb said. “I had very little knowledge of the LPGA the beginning of my rookie year. I knew the basics, but to actually meet one of the founders of the LPGA early in my rookie year, to hear her make that comment, I think there was instant respect. I realized I really needed to understand where we came from and who helped us along the way.”

A few months later, Beth Daniel invited Webb as a guest for Thanksgiving at Daniel’s home in South Florida. Suggs was there, too. Fifty years Webb’s elder, Suggs was full of passion for the game, full of rich stories told in only the way Suggs could tell them.

Hall of Famer, LPGA founder Louise Suggs dies at 91

Photos: Louise Suggs through the years

“She was feisty and opinionated and passionate,” Webb said. “I think maybe I have some of those traits, and I guess I like to think that’s why we were as good of friends as we were.”

Through Suggs and Daniel, Webb gained more than an understanding of how the LPGA was built and who built it. She gained a sense of responsibility. It would lead to Webb’s taking a leadership role in the tour’s governance. Webb’s four-year term on the LPGA’s board of directors ended last year, but she remains an important, respected voice.

“Beth and Louise taught me so much about the history of the LPGA,” Webb said. “They gave me a greater appreciation for everything we have now.”

Webb spoke to Suggs for the last time from Scotland on the Sunday of the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Though Suggs wasn’t able to travel to LPGA events the last couple years, she continued to actively follow the tour.

“She was watching that Sunday,” Webb said. “She was watching the LPGA right to the end.”

Webb knew Suggs was struggling and that she had taken a bad turn the last couple months.

“I think I knew it would probably be the last time we talked,” Webb said. “We pretty much said our goodbyes.”

Webb continued to call Suggs when she returned to the United States, but it was mostly to check up on her, with Suggs unable to speak on the phone. Webb’s admiration for Suggs goes beyond the amazing playing record, Suggs’ 61 LPGA titles and 11 majors. It goes to what Suggs won for every player with her dedication to the tour at large. Suggs served as the second president in LPGA history, following Patty Berg. Suggs led the tour in that role from 1955-57 with fellow founder Marilynn Smith as the tour secretary.

“Marilynn has always said that Louise had a great business mind, and they were very lucky during those years that Louise was president, that she did such a great job,” Webb said. “She said those were the years the tour really got a firm foothold.”

Webb saw the call to service in Daniel, too.

“Beth served as president during the peak of her playing career,” Webb said.

Those examples led Webb to serve.

“It was something I knew I should do, but also something I wanted to do, not just to say I’m a board member, but to be an active participant, and to try to make the tour better,” Webb said.

That’s the legacy Suggs left Webb. They spoke a lot through the years, but Webb doesn’t have to rely solely on her memory to hear Suggs’ gravelly voice, her spirited humor. Suggs used to leave voice mails on Webb’s answering machine that were so memorable Webb could never bring herself to delete them.

“I have a ton of voice messages,” Webb said. “I’ll have to work out how to get them off and preserve them.

“Every message is very similar. She would be calling to congratulate me, and she would say, just remember, `I taught you everything you know.’ She always joked around that she taught me everything I know.”

Suggs’ lessons live on through Daniel, Webb and all the players Suggs considered her LPGA children.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.