“Things happen for a reason.”
Those were Karrie Webb’s words before the first tee shot was struck at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club.
She was speaking about the late actor Christopher Reeve and the inspiration, hope and help he offered those who were paralyzed as he was. She was explaining why she was playing for Reeve's foundation as her designated Founders Cup charity. She went on to detail how her devotion to Kelvin Haller made the foundation so important to her. Haller, paralyzed from the neck down in an accident when Webb was 16, has coached her in their native Australia since before she turned pro.
“Kelvin’s obviously a very huge part of my life,” Webb said in a telephone interview after her victory. “I don’t think I would be the golfer I am without him and probably not the person.”
Watching Webb hoist the trophy at the inaugural Founders Cup Sunday night, it felt right, almost like it was preordained, if you believe those things.
Webb’s story resonates that powerfully as the Founders Cup champ. She knew Reeve personally and has worked with his foundation since 1998.
But it isn't just Webb's passion for helping in the fight to cure paralysis that makes her triumph feel preordained in a week when the LPGA donated its entire $1 million purse to charities. (By the way, Webb said Sunday night that she’s been so moved by the suffering in Japan that she will split her $200,000 first-place donation with the Reeve Foundation and the Japanese relief effort.) Beyond the admirable altruism, there’s also Webb’s special connection with 87-year-old Louise Suggs, one of the tour’s 13 founders. They’ve become fast friends as South Floridians who frequently cross paths.
In fact, when Webb saw Suggs after walking off the 18th hole Sunday, Suggs sounded like a proud grandmother.
“Taught her everything she knows,” Suggs said.
Webb had dinner with Suggs on Friday night.
“She’s taking credit for the way I played over the weekend,” Webb said. “I said earlier, we don’t celebrate our founders enough, and this is a wonderful week to be able to do that.”
And Webb seemed the ideal woman to lead the celebration.