Webb is competing at Shoal Creek Club in Birmingham, Alabama, courtesy of a special invite from tournament organiser, the USGA, though such an invite is anything but unwarranted.
Webb is one of the greatest players in the history of the female game, her seven major championship titles including two US Women’s Opens, leaving her tied for 6th with Inbee Park and Juli Inkster on the all-time list of women's major championship winners.
Webb is playing her 23rd consecutive US Women's Open this week but on such a limited schedule these days it appears likely she will struggle to gain automatic exemption to future US Women’s Opens. Her standing in the game however is undeniable and her invite into this year’s field recognises such and is deserving..
Webb spoke to the media today and one of the first things she was keen to express was her gratitude to the USGA.
“I'm very happy to be here,” said Webb. “I'm thankful for the USGA for granting me the special exemption this year to play here at Shoal Creek. I'm excited to be here.
“The U.S. Open is a special golf tournament. I think it is the ultimate in our sport. Anyone would want a U.S. Open on their résumé. I feel pretty fortunate to have two of those on my résumé.
“I think it brings the best out in the champion each year. And obviously playing on some of the best courses in the country and different ones every year, obviously it teaches you to be a more flexible player and have patience in different areas.”
This is just Webb’s fourth event of the year, a considerable change from her heyday when a much more intense schedule was part of her annual programming. She is however enjoying just how fresh she feels coming into this week’s event and is looking forward to a busier stretch in the weeks and months ahead.
“I have enjoyed coming back and competing. My mind and body feel really fresh. When I look at just the block of tournaments that I have decided to play, I'm eager to play those. It did not seem like that in the yearly long grinds that I have done for the past 22, 23 years.
“This is only my fourth tournament of the year. I played in the Australia Open and took about, I guess, maybe two and a half months off before I played again.
“Part of the reason for the change or the limiting my schedule is, you know, I wanted to start spending more time at home in Australia. I spent from the week before the Australia Open until the middle of April and that was longest consecutive amount of time I have spent in Australia for 22 years.
“Just being home felt good. Being around my family and going to gymnastics and soccer matches. And one of my nieces plays golf, playing golf with her. Just normal stuff with my family was enjoyable.”
When asked if she had a schedule in mind for the remainder of the year Webb was not committal. “No, not really. I guess it would depend on how I play. I have a schedule through the British Open, and then I will assess after that.”
And so how is this new scheduling suiting Webb who has for so long been a regular at LPGA Tour events?
“This is a real experimental year as far as with where I am at with playing part-time. I never thought I could be a part-timer, to be honest. I have always been a grinder and practicer. I have had a relatively good schedule for many years.
“I'm always a practicer and I thought if I didn't put the time in and I didn't play well, I didn't deserve to because I didn't work hard enough. That's sort of been my motto. That change in mindset is something that is the experiment to see if I cannot have to do the grind and still enjoy the few tournaments that I play.”
Shoal Creek on Tuesday - photo courtesy of USGA
Webb got to play Shoal Creek on Monday and is pleased she did given the volume of rain that has fallen since.
“I feel fortunate to have seen it on Monday,” she added. “I think anyone who is unfortunate not to get to see it, you hope you've got a good caddie and they have been able to walk the course at least. Our yardage books and greens books and everything we have these days are so much better than 23 years ago, when I first played my first U.S. Open.
“Sometimes you can play courses without having seen them. The only saving grace for those players is that it's going to be soft. So you are not going to have to worry about landing it 30 feet left of the hole to get it to funnel and release into where the pin is as much as you normally would.”
SWING LIKE LYDIA KO
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