ie Webb has made an extremely rare change of coach as she prepares to win a fourth Ricoh Women's British Open at Birkdale this week.
Webb has parted with longtime mentor Ian Triggs and taken up with American instructor Mike McGetrick, who has previously coached Juli Inkster and Meg Mallon.
The Australian has worked with Brisbane-based Triggs since 2003 and has had just two coaches in her long career; her original coach from hometown Ayr in North Queensland, Kelvin Haller, passed the baton to Triggs when his health failed.
Triggs, who also is the instructor for John Senden and a batch of touring professionals on the LPGA Tour including So-Yeon Ryu, has told all his clients that he intends reducing his travel schedule next year.
Webb told Golf Week recently that the change was about increasing length, "just trying to get a bit more power back into my golf swing''. She added: "I was losing a lot of distance with my irons and off the tee.''
Webb has won twice on tour this year, at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open and also in America. But she told the magazine that her wins came back to course management and short game rather than ball-striking. She began working with McGetrick five weeks ago, and the results have been immediate, although the changes are not dramatic.
"I didn’t know from one day to the next how far I was going to hit it (previously),'' Webb said.
Triggs, one of Australia's most-respected instructors, would not comment on the split although it is believed to be amicable.
Webb, the world No. 7, heads a list of nine Australians teeing it up at Royal Birkdale this week in the season's third major. American Michelle Wie won the most recent major, the US Open at Pinehurst last month, and she is one of the favorites along with world No. 1 Stacy Lewis.
Wie has done a New York swing of the talk shows since her victory, and soaked up her first major triumph. "It's strange, I think the fact that I kind of did the whole New York thing, I realisedthat I actually did win it,'' she told media at Birkdale today. "There was no going around it. There was no acting like I didn't. It was really cool.''
The Hawaiian said she felt "like a donut fresh out of the fryer, rolling around in the sugar''. But she is trying hard to refocus this week. "I let myself really bask in it for a few days and after that, Ithink that just because I won a major, it doesn't mean that I'm going to play well in the future. It doesn't guarantee that I'm to win the British or win anything.
"It's just kind of back to working hard and try to play well. I'm just really proud of myself but I think I've kind of moved past it and trying to think about this week and the upcoming events.''
The media is whipping up a Wie-Lewis rivalry, noting that they are close friends. Asked about Lewis today, Wie said: "When I see Stacy, even if she finished fourth or third, she's still really motivated. She's pissed off that she was fourth place, and I really admire that. I think that looking at her and kind of seeing her do that, you know, her work ethic is just unbelievable.''
Texan Lewis, who has already won three times this year, is happy for the rivalry to be built up. "I think rivals are great for any sport, and I don't think you have to hate each other, because we are never going to hate each other,'' she said. "But I can tell you we both want to beat each other once we get on the golf course, and that's all you need for a rivalry to work. I think it would be a great thing.''
Royal Birkdale, the links near Southport in Lancashire, is hosting its sixth Womens British Open. It is also a prominent part of the men's Open Championship roster, having hosted the world's oldest tournament nine times. Ian Baker-Finch's triumph in 1991 was there. The club is located on the Irish Sea, 25 kilometres north of Liverpool, and is scheduled to host the men's Open again in 2017.
Karrie Webb (Qld)
Stephanie Na (SA)
Sarah Jane Smith (Qld)
Minjee Lee (am) (WA)
Su Hyun Oh (am) (Vic)
Stacey Keating (Vic)
Bree Arthur (Qld)
Nikki Campbell (ACT)
Sarah Kemp (NSW)
$US 3 million
2013 Stacy Lewis (USA)
2012 Jiyai Shin (S Korea)
2011 Yani Tseng (Taiwan)
2010 Yani Tseng (Taiwan)
2009 Catriona Matthew (Scotland)
2008 Jiyai Shin (S Korea)
Australia's Karrie Webb has won the Women's British Open three times — in 1995, 1997 and 2002 — but her record only lists her as having won it as a 'major' once. That is because the tournament was not classified as a major on the first two occasions. If that ever changed, Webb would have nine — rather than seven — career majors. Still, she might well add to the list this week.
Stacy Lewis: The world No. 1 is comfortable playing links-style golf and has been the outstanding player for some time now. She is a relentless competitor above all.
Michelle Wie: Has risen to world No. 6 and won her first major, the US Women's Open, at Pinehurst last month. Seems to have found the self-confidence to compete regularly.
Lydia Ko: The teenaged New Zealander is already No. 2 in the world and seems ready to excel soon.