Webb speaks at Royal Pines

Seven time champion Karrie Webb is back to play the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters at Royal Pines and at a press conference this morning Webb discussed a range of issues.

The conference began with tournament chairman Bob Tuohy singing Webb's praise for her commitment to the event and her place in Australian golf.

"I don't think enough has been said about Karrie and the way she has evolved over time. She has been our best ambassador and most certainly our greatest player," said Tuohy. "Seven majors, 38 LPGA titles, seven Ladies Masters, four Opens. I was asked the other day who was our greatest player in this country and right at the top of my list was Karrie."

Q - As this was being said Webb sat and listened and was then asked what her reaction was to those comments.

Webb - "I mean obviously it's a great compliment but it's not something that you ever set out to achieve to become. I think you set out to achieve to be the best that you can be. I think it's always hard to compare careers to other players, and different generations and obviously male/female. I think it's very hard to compare.

"I am very proud of my career and what I've achieved with golf. For people to say that it's definitely the highest compliment. But even to me Greg Norman's still Greg Norman. I'm still an 11 year old girl sometimes when I think of Greg Norman."

"I don't compare my career to a Greg Norman or a David Graham or a Peter Thompson. It's just really too hard to do that. I think they've had fabulous careers and my career doesn't diminish theirs or vice versa. I think we've all waved the Aussie flag when we've been overseas and we've all done it very well. I think that's why golf has continued to be a big sport in Australia and continued to grow over the years."

Q - Having missed this event last year Webb was asked if she had felt pressure to play this year's event because of the pressure the event itself was under.

Webb - "I did feel pressure to play this year but I also have so many great memories here, of the lowest 72 hole score I've ever had in a tournament I've done twice here. My lowest career round was here "“ as well as somewhere else -- but here as well. There are a number of great memories that I have here and also those memories I share with my family. It's a great place for me to come. When I was younger choices were easy, I just chose golf all the time; now it's family, golf; so it's a hard decision.

Q - Was it disappointing that this event had been downgraded in terms of prizemoney?

Webb - "I guess that's a tough question to answer right now when you're talking about funding in the recent days with all the flooding that is going on, to complain about playing professional sport for money, it's hard to sit here and say that when there are a lot of people suffering, but to answer the question, it is disappointing.

"Women's golf around the world doesn't have many events that have been going for as long as this event and there is a lot of history here, obviously great memories for me, but also for a number players. A number of number one players in the world have won this event. I would love to see it get up to the quality that it was 12, 15 years ago."

Q - Last year you did not win anywhere for the first time in your career. It was however a pretty solid year. How would you describe it yourself?

Webb - "It was probably from start to finish one of my most consistent years for the last four or five. I actually probably gave myself more chances to win last year than I had in any of the last three or four years but just didn't get across into the winners' circle. That was probably the only disappointing part for me but I felt I ended the season really well, which normally the last three or four events I sort of can't wait to be done. I ended really well. I felt really good. I mentally felt fresher than I had in past years at the end of the year, so that really excited me for the start of this year."

Q - After being around for so long on the tournament scene what is it that continues to drive you?

Webb - "I think I'm still prepared to work really hard, which that's the part I don't see lasting for 10 or 15 more years and I think with golf being added to the Olympics in 2016, that is the carrot that's dangling out there in front of me to keep me working hard. That would really be a special thing to achieve in my career, if I could be good enough to make the Australian team for the 2016 Olympics."

Q - So would an Olympic Gold Medal mean more to you now than a Major title?

Webb - "Well it's hard to say. When I think about the Olympics I guess I don't even think about medalling, I think I just think about being a part of it, in the Olympic Village. I've loved the Olympics since I can remember. My first one I remember watching Moscow Olympics with Mum and Dad, getting up in the early hours of the morning and watching it on TV. So that's what I look forward to and playing golf is almost probably secondary. Walking out with the team, the opening ceremony, those sorts of things are the things that I think about."

Q - Did you always hope that golf would one day be an Olympic sport?

Webb - "Yes, I didn't play golf thinking that it would ever be in the Olympics. I was though a part of the Olympic bid, I was on the Olympic Committee or the World Golf Federation that put everything together for the Olympics and that's when I thought could this really happen, could golf go into the Olympics?

"In many ways I was a little torn because I knew at the same time softball was one of the sports that was bidding "“ just to get away from baseball - and I have a few friends that play softball for the US and some in Australia and I knew that golf would be fine if we never got into the Olympics, but I knew softball would take a hit from government funding around the world. In many ways I was obviously very excited that golf got in but there were two sports that got announced and I was really pulling for softball as well to get in because I knew how important it was for them to be in the Olympics.

Q - Does it concern you that there does not appear to be a young player that can step up and do what you've done?

Webb - "It doesn't concern me. I think it's really hard. I've talked to a few of the younger players. As soon as they show promise they get compared to my career and I think that's just too tough. I could never imagine the career that I've had and if I was just starting out and someone was putting that on me to be someone else, tends to make those players feel like that's the only way to be successful, if their career compares to mine.

We have a great group of young girls that are coming out, obviously Stacey Keating won twice last year and Julia Boland finished in the top 10 on the Symetra tour and gained her LPGA tour card. There are a lot of young girls just starting out. I feel that if we encourage them in the right way "“ success as a professional golfer could come ten years in for them and they could have a purple patch of five or six years where they are a top 10 player in the world.

I think with the rare exceptions of maybe five or six players in the last five years that have been under 20 and been successful, that doesn't happen very often. I know a lot of the Australian girls that I talk to think if they're 18 and they're not turning pro then they're already behind the eight ball. It's hard to convince them that you can play for another four years as an amateur and gain all the experience that you can, Golf Australia pays for everything that you do and then turn professional. They are a lot more mature at 22 anyway."


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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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