Webb among Park's potential spoilers at St. Andrews
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Karrie Webb didn’t think she’d make it back to the Old Course before she retired.
The seven-time major champion stood behind the 18th green at St. Andrews, steps away from the grandiose R&A clubhouse, and marveled that a women’s professional event had returned to these hallowed grounds in such a short time.
“I was overwhelmed by the moment of us playing a British Open here,” Webb said of her 2007 experience. This time around she’s more settled, but the cool factor remains.
Webb comes into this week’s championship hot off a victory on the Ladies European Tour. The 38-year-old closed with a 65 at the Ladies European Masters to win for the third time this season (two on the LET and one LPGA). Webb’s 39 career LPGA victories make her the winningest active player on tour, with Juli Inkster coming in second with 31. She is ranked No. 6 in the world.
Though Webb hasn’t won a major since 2006, she’s a solid pick to spoil Inbee Park’s fun. Among those in the field this week, only Inkster has as many major titles.
Creamer considers Webb and Inkster her LPGA role models. She loves the way they grind and the way they compete with an almost palpable intensity.
“I have so much respect for what (Webb) has done,” Creamer said. “I don’t think she has gotten the credit she deserves.”
The serious-minded Aussie called the Old Course a quirky links track, saying she has played here 11 times and is still learning which lines to take off the tee.
There’s no better way to come into a tournament than in winning form, and Webb credits her success to work with longtime instructor Ian Triggs two weekends ago. Triggs noticed Webb’s ball position had moved too far back, and a quick, but slightly uncomfortable, change led to immediate improvement.
“For it to click that quickly and in a tournament,” she said, “I loved seeing that.”
Webb will begin her quest for a second Women’s British Open title at 6:41 a.m. Thursday alongside Stacy Lewis and Mika Miyazato. She had that same tee time two years ago at Carnoustie and thought she’d never see it again. (Actually, several of the game’s biggest names tee off before 7 a.m. local time.)
Webb, first-time winner of what the LPGA calls the Super Career Grand Slam (winner of all five majors played in her time), knows what it’s like to win back-to-back majors (2001) and remembers the endless talk leading up to a possible third.
“It’s bigger than just winning a tournament,” Webb said. “You’re in the elite part of the record books forever.”
It would’ve meant a great deal to Webb, who respects greatly what Park already has accomplished. Webb thinks a Park victory here on Sunday should give her the Grand Slam, regardless of what happens at Evian.
“If a guy wins four in a year and woman wins five, are you classifying that as the same?” Webb asked. “It’s better.”
Paula Creamer happens to agree with Webb’s stance, but Stacy Lewis feels differently. Lewis thinks Park needs to sweep all five to take the Grand Slam.
What they have in common: all want to play the part of spoiler.