Womens British Was Karries Webb-Site


It was 1995, seven years ago, and Karrie Webb was an anonymous kid from a small town in Australia who struggling to play professional golf. Only 19 years old, she was less than a year removed from America where she had spent a year on the Futures Tour, less than two years from her home in little Ayr, Australia, where she worked at her mother's caf making $10 an hour.
In 1995, Webb had made the decision to play the Women's European Tour after the Futures Tour in America had ended. Now it was time to compete in the biggest tournament of her life, the Weetabix Women's British Open. It wasn't yet part of the LPGA schedule, but it had the biggest prize money in Europe and the atmosphere was totally unlike anything the girl from Queensland had seen.
She caused a slight stir the opening round when she got around in 69 strokes, two off the 67 of leader Liselotte Neumann. But she surged to the top in Round 2 with a 70 to grab a one-stroke lead, and maintained her one-stroke advantage after three rounds with another 69.
Now she was about to enter the final round, and she looked across the tee and saw American veteran Val Skinner, just a stroke behind.
'She scared the hell out of me,' said Webb later, smiling at the memory. 'Val can be pretty intimidating, and on the first tee I could hardly breathe.'
She shook so bad that she could nothing but hit shot after shot almost perfectly. Webb shot another 70, Skinner shot a 77, and Webb was introduced to the world after a six-shot victory.
Halfway around the world in the little Queensland farming community, Webb's mother, Evelyn, could not believe it.
'Look, it's two o'clock in the morning, you're not having me on?' she asked the caller from England telling her the news. 'Six shots? You're kidding!'
No, the caller assured her, he was serious. Webb had won the British Open, which is about to be played again this week at Turnberry in Scotland. 'I had always dreamed of walking up the 18th to win a tournament, but for it to be the British Open is unbelievable,' Webb said at the victory ceremony. 'A lot of people at home will be shocked ' but happily shocked.'
Webb went on to win the European Tour's Rookie of the Year award. But because the Women's British wasn't at that time a part of the LPGA, she wasn't exempt from qualifying school for the American LPGA.
So she entered the '95 qualifier, but just 10 days before the tournament was to begin, Webb received the cruelest of breaks. She broke her arm. Realizing this was it for all of '96, though, she gritted her teeth and played anyway. She survived, finished second, and today is one of the top players on the LPGA.
In 1997 she won the British Open again, this time as a 22-year-old who had made her mark on the LPGA, this time by an even more convincing margin of eight strokes. And this time she opened with 65 at Sunningdale, added a course-record 63 in the third round, and shot 19-under for the tournament, a record-setting score by five shots.
'At first,' said runner-up Rosie Jones, 'I thought it was mistake on the board when I saw her at 18-under and I was at 9-under. I thought I had better make a birdie at the last because she would lap me.'
Webb was 'over the moon' to win the British again. 'It's such a special tournament for me, being the first one I ever won,' she said. 'It was a great week for it all to click into place.'
It was the culmination of a golfing career that had its seeds when little Karrie was just eight years old and starting to play the game. Both her parents played, as well as both her grandparents.
The golf course in Ayr ' the same area in Queensland in which Greg Norman was born ' wasn't much. Her grandfather used to pull her around the course in a trolley. And by her senior season at Ayr State High School, Webb had progressed to become the best young female player in Queensland.
She was working in her mom's caf, Sugarland Fast Foods, in 1994, and early in '95 she was still nearly broke, working as an assistant at the Ayr golf course with just $200 to her name. She had to borrow money from her mother to continue with her career, but came to America to play the Futures, then went to Europe to play the British.
Now she is a superstar. Has she changed?
'Me as a person and away from the golf course, I don't think too much has changed ' except that I've gotten a little bit older,' she says.
'I think I've matured on and off the golf course. But for on the golf course, I think just the maturing factor has made my game better and better every year.
'Each year I'm less and less hard on myself, to the point that I know if things are going to be good sometimes, sometimes they are not going to be good at all. If I can get through my career finishing 1, 2, 3 or 4 on the money list every year, then I'm pretty lucky. I think that is the sign of a great player, the years that they are not playing so well, to still manage to finish all right at the end of the year.
'But at times, trust me, there's still time when I'm a 21-year-old rookie out there and sometimes I make rookie mistakes still. But I think everyone does that, and it's less and less every year.'
The Women's British Open winner of 1995 and 1997 is a big girl now, 25 years old and owner of a big house near the ocean in Boynton Beach, Fla. She entered 2002 with 26 victories after only six years on tour. But always she will remember where it all began, with the '95 British, returning to win the British in '97 as an LPGA star.