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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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x