Hall of Famer Webb Lets Clubs Do the Talking

By Lpga Tour MediaNovember 14, 2005, 5:00 pm
LPGA logo for LeaderboardsEditor's Note: Watch Karrie Webbs induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame Monday night on The Golf Channel at 9:30 p.m.
 
Karrie Webb has been described as reserved, standoffish, even unemotional. Her wrap-around Oakleys hiding the tears of joy, or flashes of frustration, in her young eyes. But if you look, really look, those mirrored sunglasses tell you more than the 30-time champion ever could in a million interviews; stand close enough, and in those sunglasses youll see your reflection.
 
And thats who Karrie is -- just a small town kid, a reflection of all of us. She quietly celebrates her triumphs just like we do, and she suffers heartbreak just like the rest of us. At no time did the LPGAs superwoman seem more human than at the 2001 McDonalds LPGA Championship Presented by AIG. In the moment of her greatest victory, which included achieving the LPGA Career Grand Slam, Karrie was experiencing overwhelming anguish. That day, and in the days soon after that should have been reserved for celebration, Karrie was just as we would be: grief-stricken and inconsolable for the loss of one of her dearest family members, her maternal grandfather.
 
Growing up in the small town of Ayr in Queensland, Australia, Karrie was just a regular child with a special gift for the game. It was her grandparents, Mick and Joyce Collinson, who introduced Karrie to golf when she was just 4 years old. They took little Karrie out on Sunday mornings to play nine holes -- Grandma and Granddad with their golf clubs on pull carts and Karrie with her one plastic club and ball. She remembers playing three or four holes before tiring out. Then Granddad would put her on his golf bag and tote her along in the pull cart for the rest of the day.
 
They were about the only two people in the world who were patient enough to go out with a 4-year-old and play golf on a Sunday morning, said Karrie.
 
That patience paid off in dividends. Karrie quickly excelled at the game. At the age of eight, she shot 150 in her first tournament and was given the Encouragement Award. (It was basically the Thanks For Trying award, but I was just proud of myself for winning a trophy.) Only five years later, Karrie was breaking 80 on a regular basis. By 1994, she was the Australian Stroke Play champion. When Karrie set her sights on the LPGA Tour, not even her family, her greatest supporters, could have imagined the success she would find.
 
In 1996, Karrie burst onto the LPGA Tour, not with a lot of hype or self-promotion, but by letting her talent make the bold statements. She had already won the Weetabix Womens British Open prior to joining the Tour, and in just her third tournament as an LPGA professional, she won again. By the end of her rookie year, Karrie was the young gun of the LPGA. She won four times and became the first player in LPGA history to win $1 million in a single season.
 
I think it took me a few years to be comfortable with that instant fame and attention, and maybe Im still not completely comfortable. Looking back, that first year is still a bit of a blur to me. By the end of the season, I was pretty overwhelmed.
 
But when I went back home to Australia for Christmas, my family just treated me as the same old Karrie. They were proud of me, but I didnt have to worry about anything changing with them because of my success. I think thats one of the reasons I still really enjoy going home, because my family and friends dont ever treat me any differently.
 
Which is a good thing, since more wins followed, and followed and followed. In 1999, Karrie officially dominated the LPGA Tour -- winning six times and taking home her first Rolex Player of the Year trophy. She played, and won, a game of top this with herself, winning seven times in 2000 and another Rolex Player of the Year title. Karries win at the 2000 U.S. Womens Open gave her the requisite 27 points needed to qualify her for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame; leaving her to play the waiting game until this season when she met the 10-year membership requirement. She had, by her own admission, achieved just about every goal she had ever set for herself in the game of golf.
 
By the summer of 2001, her sixth year on the LPGA Tour, Karrie owned 24 tournament titles, including three major championship wins. She lived a childhood dream for a second time by successfully defending her title at the 2001 U.S. Womens Open. What was left for the young Aussie?
 
At the beginning of 2001, I knew I had the opportunity to win the Career Grand Slam. Of course, I didnt really think I would complete it that year, but I knew that it was something I had the chance to do if I set my sights on it.
 
Only four women in LPGA history had set their sights on the Career Grand Slam and actually achieved it: Louise Suggs, 1957; Mickey Wright, 1962; Pat Bradley, 1986; and Juli Inkster, 1999. All LPGA Tour Hall of Famers, and all but Wright had completed the Career Grand Slam at the LPGA Championship. Could Karrie follow? Or would it be too much to ask of the 26-year-old?
 
I don't know, said Karrie in a press conference before the start of the 2001 McDonalds LPGA Championship. I think Ive just matured as a player, and the fact that I do have a chance at age 26 to complete the Career Grand Slam, not many women have done that. Its something that would be very special to me. It was only seven majors ago that I had not even won one, so it would be quite special, and Ill have achieved that really quickly as well.
 
Karries speculation would become certainty just four days later. It was all too perfect -- her mother and father were in town for the occasion. They rarely came to the States during the season and had not seen Karrie play in a major championship in several years. The stage was set for one of their daughters greatest triumphs, and they would be there to witness it all.
 
Obviously, having my family there to see me win the Grand Slam wasnt anything I could plan. But I thought if I did win it, it would be that much more special for them to share the victory with me. We had been together at the Evian Masters the week before, so it was really a great trip for them to see different parts of the world and come to a major championship. It was just good timing, I think.
 
But before Karrie would raise her eyes and the trophy to the sky, she was forced to conquer more than the challenging greens of DuPont Country Club.
 
Karrie didnt sleep at all Saturday night before the final round. She was less than 24 hours away from walking up the 18th fairway -- but she wasnt anxious about her three-stroke lead, or even restless with excitement about winning another major. Karrie had learned that her grandfather, who had suffered a stroke on Thursday in Australia, had taken a turn for the worse. Halfway around the world, the kind, gentle man who had given Karrie her first encouragement to play the game she now dominated, was slipping away.
 
That night, with her parents by her side, Karrie made the decision to withdraw from the tournament she was only hours away from winning. She wanted to leave for Australia the next morning with her family. But her father, Rob, knew deep down that she had to play.
 
He didnt feel good about me leaving. And he spoke to all of my moms family, and they all said that Granddad would not have wanted me to come home just yet. My whole family said that I should play, so I changed my mind. I wanted to win for Granddad.
 
It wasnt until 8 a.m. Sunday morning, less than six hours before her tee time, that Karrie made the final decision to play. Her parents boarded a plane in Philadelphia for the long trip home. Only her caddie Mike Patterson, who was carrying a golf bag as heavy as Karries heart, knew the situation.
 
Perhaps it was the trademark focus and determination that fooled us into thinking Karrie was all business that day. She worked her way around the golf course with the usual precise application of her exquisite golf swing. Her steady play belied the turmoil, even guilt, she felt with every putt made or missed.
 
It was a bit of a blur really. I dont remember a whole lot about the round. I think, to be honest, I was amazing myself at how well I was playing. But I wasnt really there. I was at home. And as well as I played, I would normally be showing some emotion. But I just couldnt find it in myself to be excited about where I was.
 
Karries emotions got the best of her by the end of the day. With a comfortable three-shot lead on the 18th tee, Karrie missed the fairway, missed the green, then missed a 5-footer for par. As she tapped in for bogey and a two-under-par 69 for the win, tears squeezed out from behind those steely sunglasses. It was the hardest day of her life, but she had done it.
 
It's really hard for me to think about this as a special occasion for me, said Karrie in her championship press conference. Right now, it isnt a special occasion for my family. I was pretty close to not even playing today, so I just -- I don't know. I didnt really do it for myself today. I did it for my granddad, and I know that it might not help out the situation, but my grandma told me on Thursday that she wanted me to win it for him.
 
The flight home to the other side of the world should have been a victory lap, but for Karrie, it was a grueling 25-hour trip made even longer by the uncertainty of her grandfathers condition. When she arrived home, she learned the devastating news that her granddad had already passed away. Victories and records are one thing, but the chance to say goodbye for the last time is worth more than any first-place paycheck.
 
It was hard to realize I had missed the chance. But I think thats how it was supposed to be -- I won the tournament for him, just like he would have wanted. Deep down, Im glad my mom got home before Granddad died. It would have been good for me to get to say goodbye, but I know it was more important for her to see her father.
 
Its still hard. At the Player Summit [in March 2002], they showed a year-in-review video with a clip of me winning at the McDonalds LPGA Championship and holding the trophy over my head. I didnt think it would, but it really upset me. Only I know why I was crying so hard at that moment. That win will always bring back memories of my granddad.
 
And when Karrie is inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday night, there is little doubt that memories of all her achievements -- which now include 30 career wins, six majors and the Super Career Grand Slam -- will come flooding back, along with all the emotions attached to those who have helped her reach her dreams. While Mick Collinson wont be there to see his granddaughter take her rightful place among the legends of the game, she will certainly share the honor with him -- not only because one of her greatest triumphs was affected by his death, but because her entire illustrious career was inspired by his life.
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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.

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Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

“It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

“That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”

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Woods does everything but win at The Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 22, 2018, 8:57 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a proud man who spent the majority of his prime scoffing at silver linings and small victories, Tiger Woods needed little cajoling to look at the bright side Sunday at Carnoustie.

Sure, after a round in which he took the solo lead at The Open with nine holes to go, the first words out of Woods’ mouth were that he was “a little ticked off at myself” for squandering an opportunity to capture his 15th major title, and his first in more than a decade. And that immediate reaction was justified: In the stiffest winds of the week, he played his last eight holes in 2 over, missed low on a 6-footer on the final green and wound up in a tie for sixth, three shots behind his playing partner, Francesco Molinari.

“Today was a day,” Woods said, “that I had a great opportunity.”

But here’s where we take a deep breath.

Tiger Woods led the freakin’ Open Championship with nine holes to play.

Imagine typing those words three months ago. Six months ago. Nine months ago. Twelve months ago.

The scenario was improbable.

Inconceivable.

Impossible.

At this time last year, Woods was only a few months removed from a Hail Mary fusion surgery; from a humiliating DUI arrest in which he was found slumped behind the wheel of his car, with five drugs in his system; from a month-long stay in a rehab clinic to manage his sleep medications.

Just last fall, he’d admitted that he didn’t know what the future held. Playing a major, let alone contending in one, seemed like a reasonable goal.

This year he’s showed signs of softening, of being kinder and gentler. He appeared more eager to engage with his peers. More appreciative of battling the game’s young stars inside the ropes. More likely to express his vulnerabilities. Now 42, he finally seemed at peace with accepting his role as an elder statesman.

One major, any major, would be the most meaningful title of his career, and he suggested this week that his best chance would come in an Open, where oldies-but-goodies Tom Watson (age 59) and Greg Norman (53) have nearly stolen the claret jug over the past decade.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


But success at this Open, on the toughest links in the rota?

“Just need to play some cleaner golf, and who knows?” he shrugged.

Many analysts howled at Woods’ ultra-conservative strategy across the early rounds here at big, brawny and brutish Carnoustie. He led the field in driving accuracy but routinely left himself 200-plus yards for his approach shots, relying heavily on some vintage iron play. Even par through 36 holes, he stepped on the gas Saturday, during the most benign day for scoring, carding a 66 to get within striking distance of the leaders.

Donning his traditional blood-red shirt Sunday, Woods needed only six holes to erase his five-shot deficit. Hearing the roars, watching WOODS rise on the yellow leaderboards, it was as though we’d been transported to the mid-2000s, to a time when he’d play solidly, not spectacularly, and watch as his lesser opponents crumbled. On the same ancient links that Ben Hogan took his lone Open title, in 1953, four years after having his legs crushed in a head-on crash with a Greyhound bus, Woods seemed on the verge of scripting his own incredible comeback.

Because Jordan Spieth was tumbling down the board, the beginning of a birdie-less 76.

Rory McIlroy was bogeying two of his first five holes.

Xander Schauffele was hacking his way through fescue.

Once Woods hit one of the shots of the championship on 10 – hoisting a 151-yard pitching wedge out of a fairway bunker, over a steep lip, over a burn, to 20 feet – the outcome seemed preordained.

“For a while,” McIlroy conceded, “I thought Tiger was going to win.”

So did Woods. “It didn’t feel any different to be next to the lead and knowing what I needed to do,” he said. “I’ve done it so many different ways. It didn’t feel any different.”

But perhaps it’s no coincidence that once Woods took the lead for the first time, he frittered it away almost immediately. That’s what happened Saturday, when he shared the lead on the back nine and promptly made bogey. On Sunday, he drove into thick fescue on 11, then rocketed his second shot into the crowd, the ball ricocheting off a fan’s shoulder, and then another’s iPhone, and settling in more hay. He was too cute with his flop shot, leaving it short of the green, and then missed an 8-footer for bogey. He followed it up on 12 with another misadventure in the rough, leading to a momentum-killing bogey. He’d never again pull closer than two shots.

“It will be interesting to see going forward, because this was his first taste of major championship drama for quite a while,” McIlroy said. “Even though he’s won 14, you have to learn how to get back.”

Over the daunting closing stretch, Woods watched helplessly as Molinari, as reliable as the tide coming in off the North Sea, plodded his way to victory. With Woods’ hopes for a playoff already slim, Molinari feathered a wedge to 5 feet on the closing hole. Woods marched grim-faced to the bridge, never turning around to acknowledge his playing partner’s finishing blow. He waved his black cap and raised his mallet-style putter to a roaring crowd – knowledgeable fans who were appreciative not just of Woods making his first Open start since 2015, but actually coming close to winning the damn thing.

“Oh, it was a blast,” Woods would say afterward. “I need to try to keep it in perspective, because at the beginning of the year, if they’d have said you’re playing the Open Championship, I would have said I’d be very lucky to do that.”

Last weekend, Woods sat in a box at Wimbledon to watch Serena Williams contend for a 24th major title. Williams is one of the few athletes on the planet with whom Woods can relate – an aging, larger-than-life superstar who is fiercely competitive and adept at overcoming adversity. Woods is 15 months removed from a fourth back surgery on an already brittle body; Williams nearly secured the most prestigious championship in tennis less than a year after suffering serious complications during childbirth.

“She’ll probably call me and talk to me about it because you’ve got to put things in perspective,” Woods said. “I know that it’s going to sting for a little bit here, but given where I was to where I’m at now, I’m blessed.”

But Woods didn’t need to wait for that phone call to find some solace. Waiting for him afterward were his two kids, Sam, 11, and Charlie, 9, both of whom were either too young or not yet born when Tiger last won a major in 2008, when he was at the peak of his powers.

Choking up, Woods said, “I told them I tried, and I said, 'Hopefully you’re proud of your Pops for trying as hard as I did.' It’s pretty emotional, because they gave me some pretty significant hugs there and squeezed. I know that they know how much this championship means to me, and how much it feels good to be back playing again.

“To me, it’s just so special to have them aware, because I’ve won a lot of golf tournaments in my career, but they don’t remember any of them. The only thing they’ve seen is my struggles and the pain I was going through. Now they just want to go play soccer with me. It’s such a great feeling.”

His media obligations done, Woods climbed up the elevated walkway, on his way to the back entrance of the Carnoustie Golf Hotel & Spa. He was surrounded by his usual entourage, but also two new, younger additions to his clan.

Sam adhered to the strict Sunday dress code, wearing a black tank top and red shorts. But Charlie’s attire may have been even more appropriate. On the day his dad nearly authored the greatest sports story ever, he chose a red Nike T-shirt with a bold message emblazoned on the front, in big, block letters:

LOVE THE HATERS.

After this unbelievable performance, after Tiger Woods nearly won The Open, are there really any left?