Webb found kindred spirit in feisty Suggs

By Randall MellAugust 8, 2015, 7:23 pm

Louise Suggs couldn’t help seeing a little of herself in Karrie Webb.

They shared a feisty tough-mindedness that made them kindred spirits.

Maybe that’s why one of the 13 founders of the LPGA became such good friends with the rookie from Australia almost from the first time they met nearly 20 years ago.

No active LPGA player today was closer to Suggs than Webb, who now more than ever appreciates the special legacy Suggs leaves with Suggs’ passing Friday at 91.

“Louise never had children, but I think the LPGA and all of us were her children,” Webb told GolfChannel.com. “That’s the way Louise looked at it.”

In the moments after Webb won the Titleholders at LPGA headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1996, Suggs introduced herself. A firecracker of a personality, Suggs couldn’t help telling Webb that the $180,000 first-place check Webb just won was more money than Suggs earned her entire career.

“I didn’t even know how to respond to that comment,” Webb said. “I had very little knowledge of the LPGA the beginning of my rookie year. I knew the basics, but to actually meet one of the founders of the LPGA early in my rookie year, to hear her make that comment, I think there was instant respect. I realized I really needed to understand where we came from and who helped us along the way.”

A few months later, Beth Daniel invited Webb as a guest for Thanksgiving at Daniel’s home in South Florida. Suggs was there, too. Fifty years Webb’s elder, Suggs was full of passion for the game, full of rich stories told in only the way Suggs could tell them.

Hall of Famer, LPGA founder Louise Suggs dies at 91

Photos: Louise Suggs through the years

“She was feisty and opinionated and passionate,” Webb said. “I think maybe I have some of those traits, and I guess I like to think that’s why we were as good of friends as we were.”

Through Suggs and Daniel, Webb gained more than an understanding of how the LPGA was built and who built it. She gained a sense of responsibility. It would lead to Webb’s taking a leadership role in the tour’s governance. Webb’s four-year term on the LPGA’s board of directors ended last year, but she remains an important, respected voice.

“Beth and Louise taught me so much about the history of the LPGA,” Webb said. “They gave me a greater appreciation for everything we have now.”

Webb spoke to Suggs for the last time from Scotland on the Sunday of the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Though Suggs wasn’t able to travel to LPGA events the last couple years, she continued to actively follow the tour.

“She was watching that Sunday,” Webb said. “She was watching the LPGA right to the end.”

Webb knew Suggs was struggling and that she had taken a bad turn the last couple months.

“I think I knew it would probably be the last time we talked,” Webb said. “We pretty much said our goodbyes.”

Webb continued to call Suggs when she returned to the United States, but it was mostly to check up on her, with Suggs unable to speak on the phone. Webb’s admiration for Suggs goes beyond the amazing playing record, Suggs’ 61 LPGA titles and 11 majors. It goes to what Suggs won for every player with her dedication to the tour at large. Suggs served as the second president in LPGA history, following Patty Berg. Suggs led the tour in that role from 1955-57 with fellow founder Marilynn Smith as the tour secretary.

“Marilynn has always said that Louise had a great business mind, and they were very lucky during those years that Louise was president, that she did such a great job,” Webb said. “She said those were the years the tour really got a firm foothold.”

Webb saw the call to service in Daniel, too.

“Beth served as president during the peak of her playing career,” Webb said.

Those examples led Webb to serve.

“It was something I knew I should do, but also something I wanted to do, not just to say I’m a board member, but to be an active participant, and to try to make the tour better,” Webb said.

That’s the legacy Suggs left Webb. They spoke a lot through the years, but Webb doesn’t have to rely solely on her memory to hear Suggs’ gravelly voice, her spirited humor. Suggs used to leave voice mails on Webb’s answering machine that were so memorable Webb could never bring herself to delete them.

“I have a ton of voice messages,” Webb said. “I’ll have to work out how to get them off and preserve them.

“Every message is very similar. She would be calling to congratulate me, and she would say, just remember, `I taught you everything you know.’ She always joked around that she taught me everything I know.”

Suggs’ lessons live on through Daniel, Webb and all the players Suggs considered her LPGA children.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.