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Karrie Webb Back in Action on Favorite Course

RSS

GOLD COAST, Australia -- Last month Karrie Webb proved a point in the LPGA Skins Game, outclassing Annika Srenstam and two others. This week, Webb is back on one of her favorite courses, trying to win back a title she owned for four years before losing it to the Swedish star.
 
The fact that Srenstam isn't here doesn't matter to Webb, who lost in a playoff last year at the ANZ Ladies Masters, preventing Webb from winning a fifth consecutive title on the par-72 East Course at the Royal Pines Resort.
 
Srenstam went on to win 11 tournaments in 23 starts on the LPGA Tour in 2002, including 20 top-10 finishes and earning a single-season record of $2.8 million.
 
Webb, by her own standards, had an off year, winning just three tournaments, including the Australian Open and British Open.
 
In late January, Webb got 2003 off to a good start by beating Srenstam, Britain's Laura Davies and American Laura Diaz in Hawaii, taking 12 skins for an event-record $470,000.
 
Both Davies and Diaz are entered at Royal Pines, as are 2002 LPGA Rookie of the Year Beth Bauer and the runner-up for the award, 19-year-old Natalie Gulbis.
 
Most of last year's European Solheim Cup team are also here -- Suzann Pettersen from Norway, Scotland's Mhairi McKay, Sweden's Sophie Gustafson, Iben Tinning from Denmark and Karine Icher from France -- in all, 22 of the world's top 50.
 
All of which makes Webb discount suggestions of an easy win with Srenstam out of the picture.
 
'I've never been someone who talks or even thinks like that,' said Webb, who has been working out and has lost nine pounds. 'I obviously feel really comfortable around this course and it's nice to kick the year off here where I've played so well for the last seven or eight years.'
 
Webb, who has 28 career LPGA Tour wins, has owned Royal Pines except for her loss on the fourth playoff hole last year against Srenstam. In nine Masters at Royal Pines since 1994, she has won four times and finished runner-up three times.
 
She has played her 36 rounds in 123-under par, including an LPGA Tour record of 26-under when she won in 1999.
 
'It's a perfect place for me to start the year,' said Webb, who will play Thursday and Friday with two Solheim Cup players, European No. 1 Paula Marti and Diaz, who won twice on the LPGA last season and finished seventh on the money list.
 
'It's a great golf course,' Diaz said of Royal Pines. 'We (the LPGA) don't start until the second week of March, so it's given me an opportunity to get going a bit earlier. It couldn't be a better place to come and get prepped up for the year.'
 
The LPGA Tour season will begin March 13-16 with the Welch's/Fry's Championship in Tucson, Ariz.
 
Davies, who lost in a playoff last week in the ALPG Players Championship to Australian rookie Tamara Hyett, is also looking to have a strong week at Royal Pines.
 
'My confidence is back,' said Davies, twice an ANZ Masters winner. 'I'm hitting the driver really well and making a few putts.'
 
Rain hit the course Wednesday, forcing cancellation of the afternoon portion of the pro-am after greens became flooded.
 
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.