Tour News

Karrie Webb after Peter Thomson's record

(Photo: Bruce Young)
The 25th Australian Ladies Masters (now known as the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters) is to be played this week at its long time home at RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast.

The event was first played in 1990 at the nearby Palm Meadows where American Jane Geddes won its opening two stagings but in 1992 the tournament moved to Royal Pines here it has remained since.

There is little doubt that the name that has become synonymous with the event and has played a key role in the event's success and longevity is that of Karrie Webb who is this week chasing a 9th Australian Ladies Masters title and if she was to do so would join Peter Thomson as the only golfer to have won a significant professional event nine times.

Thomson won the New Zealand Open on nine occasions between 1950 and 1971 but Webb, Tiger Woods and Sam Snead are others to have won the same event eight times and Webb has a chance to break clear of those two famous names with victory this week.

Webb has spent the last few weeks in Ayr in North Queensland with family and friends as she prepares for yet another season on the LPGA Tour where she has played since becoming Rookie of the year and becoming the first rookie of either gender and the first female to win US$1 million in a season in 1996.

She has gone on to win 55 professional titles including seven major championships, 39 LPGA Tour events and four Australian Opens in addition to her eight titles at RACV Royal Pines. She has also finished runner-up on four occasions in this week's event so she has been the name that will be forever linked with the success of the Australian Ladies Masters.

So what does Webb think of her chances? "I don't know the position my game is in now," she said in yesterday's press conference. "I've been in North Queensland for 5 weeks, practicing a little bit but I haven't put any scores together or anything so I don't think I'll really know that until Sunday."

That has not stopped her winning in the past, often coming off post Xmas time in the north and very quickly removing the rust from her game. By the time Sunday comes around she is regularly the woman to beat.

"Even last year there was rust, but I had practiced in Florida. I guess I just have more of a routine in Florida, you know I have my trainer and physio and message therapists, chiropractors. When I'm home in North Queensland and part of the reason I like being home for a couple of weeks is that I get to spend time with my family, especially my young nephews and nieces.

"So, it's not as much about me, or it is about me because I want to see them but I'm not as much concentrated on my schedule, like I fit my practice in but I don't go and work with a trainer and then go and get a massage later and that takes up 8 hours of my day. So, when I come here its more unknown when I'm practicing in Queensland, only because I haven't been as routined and only thinking about myself for weeks. So that's why it's a little bit different than if I had been in Florida for a month."

The shape of her game is to be determined but she appears to have the batteries recharged. "I took a bit of time off in December but I've always done it, it's not something that's new. I've always had to decompress after the season and get away from it all so yeah, I enjoy those breaks more and more every year and it was nice to be in North Queensland for five weeks and spend time with the family and catch up with some mates and stuff like that."

So why is this event so special to her? "Well it's in Queensland to start of with, it's always been close to home and I've always had a lot of friends and family come out so that's always been fun. It's where I won my first event in Australia so that you know, up until I won, I think I had been a pro for three years and you guys (media) thought that was taking too long to win!

"So it's a special memory that you know I felt like I got that pressure off my back when I won in Australia. It was the first time that my family and friends had really seen me play so you know ever since then, even before that as an amateur I played well here. I really can't pin point what it is about the course but maybe it's just the relaxed atmosphere of the Gold Coast and the resort style here, that has made me come in here, really not putting a whole lot of pressure on myself but just enjoying the golf."

Webb was disappointed to have missed out on a role in the redesign of Royal Pines, a project that will commence on the completion of this event. She along with Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett had sought the role in the major redesign of the tournament eighteen at Royal Pines, that job eventually going to Graham Marsh and his design organisation.

"I'd like too," she said when asked if golf course design is an area she would like to get in to. "It's not an easy field to get into to and you know, these days there's not a lot of courses being built around the world but it's something that I'm interested in being involved in.

"I've been a part of three projects now with Thompson and Perrett. We've put in a bid here to do a redesign here and you know, obviously we out in a bid for the Rio Games course as well, so it's been really interesting and I'm actually working with Bob Harrison doing the redesign for the Townsville course starting at the end of this year so I've been a part of a few projects, just never seen them to conclusion. But it is something I am interested in."

Webb has the opportunity however to see the old layout out in style this week with a win that would give her not only a share of the greatest number of wins in an event record but a record she would share with a man, who along with Greg Norman she could also share the mantle of Australia's greatest golfer.

Some might say she already is.


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Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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