Webb eyes major No. 8 with Olympics on horizon

By Randall MellJune 12, 2015, 11:54 pm

HARRISON, N.Y. – Karrie Webb has hoisted seven major championship trophies in her career.

Nobody teeing it up this week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship has won more majors.

In fact, only six women in the history of golf have won more.

Only real legends have won more, only Patty Berg (15), Mickey Wright (13), Louise Suggs (11), Annika Sorenstam (10), Babe Zaharias (10) and Betsy Rawls (8).

That’s what made Webb’s admission so telling after she closed out a 2-under-par 71 Friday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship to move into weekend position to win her eighth major. She tees it up Saturday one shot behind Sei Young Kim.

“I didn’t sleep well last night,” Webb said. “I don’t know if it’s been awhile since I’ve played with that much adrenaline. I just still had it in my body when I was trying to go to sleep.”

Webb still has the drive to win on the game’s grandest stages. Twenty years after she won her first LPGA title, 16 years after she won her first major, she still craves more.

“I was a little antsy,” Webb said of Friday’s start.

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At 40, Webb is still driven by a dream. She wants to win an Olympic gold medal for her native Australia with golf returning to the Olympics next year. There’s still a lot of “want to” in Webb’s game and there’s something special to appreciate in that because she might not be around a whole lot longer, at least not with this same high level of ambition.

She has told us this Olympic bid fuels her and after it’s over we might not see as much of her. Even if we do, we might not see the same burning desire. We saw Annika Sorenstam hit the wall after performing at such a high level for so many years. Sorenstam stepped away from the game at 37. We saw Lorena Ochoa do the same at 28.

There’s longevity to Webb’s excellence to marvel over as she makes this last hard run of hers through the Olympics next year because this level of excellence can’t be fueled forever. This is a huge investment Webb is making to win gold.

“I sort of feel like I am going to play as full a schedule as I have, and work as hard as I have, for the next two years and then see where that shakes out,” Webb said earlier this year. “I could be playing close to the best golf of my career, and it could be really hard to scale back. Or, I might just be ready for a break. Or, I might be somewhere in between.”

Webb went to work changing her swing with Mike McGetrick last year, and we’re seeing the fruit of their work. Webb is full of confidence as she seeks to win her first major since taking the Kraft Nabisco in 2006.

“I definitely think my game is as good as it's ever been,” Webb said. “It's just a matter of getting out of my own way and allowing that to happen.”

The women’s game is so much younger than the men’s game. Webb is reminded of that all the time with 18-year-old Lydia Ko reigning as the Rolex No. 1, with 19-year-old Hyo Joo Kim beating her down the stretch at the Evian Championship last year, with 17-year-old Brooke Henderson contending this week.

“It makes me think about my age,” said Webb, who won twice last season. “It's fun to watch the young kids play because I know I used to be that fearless, and that's probably the only thing I wish I had. Because, obviously, as you get older, it doesn't matter what we're doing, we all lose that little bit of fearlessness that we have when we were young. But I think for me, the experience of knowing myself very well, and what I need to do to play well, is just as important.”

Juli Inkster can appreciate what it takes to keep the love of the game going strong enough to do the work it takes to keep pace with all the youth in the women’s game. Inkster, like Webb, has won seven majors. At 54, Inkster made the cut this week. Laura Davies can appreciate Webb’s longevity, too. She’s 51 and she also made the cut.

With Webb going out with Kim as the leaders in the final pairing Saturday, Webb is right where she wants to be, trying to control all the adrenalin that comes with being in contention and trying to get a good night’s sleep.

“I feel comfortable with where I put myself,” Webb said. “Who knows if that will be leading or tied for the lead or one behind tomorrow. I'm just really happy to have played the course really solidly for two days and see what happens on the weekend.”

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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.