Date: February 13, 2013
Author: Golf Australia

Karrie Webb Press Conference transcript

KATHIE SHEARER: I said when you walked in Karrie, I just don&apost know what to ask you. I don&apost know what to say. So I m just going to say are you enjoying Canberra this week? KARRIE WEBB: Yes I am. KATHIE SHEARER: Are you having a look round at all? KARRIE WEBB: I don&apost know if I ll get to see the sites, my Mum and Dad are doing plenty of that. It’s really good to be in Canberra. I can really feel the excitement of the celebrations of the centenary of Canberra and then also the fact that we re here, like everyone is excited to have the women’s Australian Open here. Q. Have you played Royal Canberra before? KARRIE WEBB: A long time ago, I was only 14. Q. Do you remember what it was all about? KARRIE WEBB: It was really my first, it was the Australian School Girls Championship, so it was really my first big tournament that I played in really outside of actually I played the Australian Junior, but I just never really played this sort of golf before. I just remember the greens being a lot faster than the Eyre Golf Club greens and we were here I think in August so it was freezing cold. It was during the Australian pilots strike, so I bussed it down here. I didn t remember much about the course. I thought I might remember a hole or two but I didn t remember any of it. Q. How long was that bus ride Karrie? KARRIE WEBB: Well the trip down actually was on an Army cargo plane to Brisbane and then a bus to Canberra. Q. Was it a Hercules? KARRIE WEBB: I don&apost know what it was called but we were sitting on benches facing each other and then on the way home it was all the way back on the bus, 44 hours. Q. How did you go? KARRIE WEBB: Not very well. We played the individual here and then we played the team event at I think four different courses in the area, so we did alright as a team. I didn t play very well in the individual. I think there was a 90-something thrown in there at one point. It was a bit cold in the morning for me. Q. What was a low round? KARRIE WEBB: I don&apost know, I just know there was one in the 90s. Q. Karrie, do you still get excited playing the Australian Open, given your success? Do you still get that nervous tinge that you ve had in the past? KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I think there s nerves on the tee of any tournament and then obviously the Australian Open is a special tournament for me and any of the Australians that are in the field. The last couple of years with it being an LPGA event, I think there s an extra buzz and excitement to the event. So we ve got a great field again this year and I think that adds to that. Q. The fact that you ve got the world no. 1, do you see her as the target or do you sort of focus on your own game? KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I don t really single out any players in particular. I think you could say one of the hottest players in the world right now is Lydia Ko and she’s a 15 year old amateur. So I don t really target any person. Come Sunday afternoon, if I have a chance to win, if there s two or three people in front of me then those are the people that I m targeting. Q. What about Lydia Ko, does it make you feel old seeing a 15 year old out there? KARRIE WEBB: It does when you think about when she was born and when I turned pro. I m talking about being here in 1989 and she was what, about eight years away from being born, so it s definitely different. When I came out on tour I was the youngest at 20 and there were players that felt old when I came out at 20. So now I know how they felt. Q. There are a stack of teenage prot g s really in the field, Michelle Wie coming through and Lydia? KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, she’s actually made it into her 20s now Michelle. Q. I realise that but I m just saying you ve got these young players that have come through; just incredible depth, isn t there? KARRIE WEBB: Yeah there is, but I think that s the beauty of golf. I don t really think that any age is a negative to how you can play. I think anyone of any age can play golf at an elite level. It’s been proven in the women’s game; it s been proven in the men’s game. Guys in their 40s have the best years of their career. Steve Stricker and Vijay Singh have proven that in the men’s game. Julie Inkster played some of her best golf in her 40s. Then obviously you see the teenagers doing very well at a young age. I think that the popularity of golf has increased and so therefore the technology with equipment but also the technology of teaching, I think kids are getting taught correctly at a younger age with equipment that fits them. They re not starting with heavy cut down clubs, they ve got clubs that are specially weighted for someone that s seven or eight years old. I think all those things led to it being possible for a 15 or a 16 year old to be mature enough to play at an elite level. But I think it s still very few and far between. I think that s what everyone has to remember, at least when I m mentoring some of the young Australian girls, because they see somebody like Lydia Ko and Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson and feel like if they don t turn pro at 18 then they re behind the 8-ball. But sometimes if they turn pro that young they miss out on developing for a couple of years under Golf Australia and some of the funding they get there and if they turn pro two or three years later, they re actually going to be better players in the future instead of struggling for two or three years in professional golf. Q. So your advice to Ko would be to stay amateur and enjoy it? KARRIE WEBB: No, that s not my advice to her, obviously she’s proven that she’s ready to play professional golf. But it s girls that aren t at the level of Lydia Ko that feel like they re behind the 8-ball if they stay amateur. They feel like I m 18 and I ve got to turn pro. I don t necessarily think because someone is doing that, that means everyone has to do it. Q. Stacey Keating is a good example of that, isn t she? She hung on for a while? KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, and she actually made it, she went to – the great thing about now is the opportunity that amateurs have is they don t have to declare being professional until they get through Q School. Stacey Keating went to European Q School and didn t get a great card and probably would have only played in four or five events with that status and she decided – shead seen what some of the other girls had done with that status, then they struggled and then they didn t have anywhere to play. She decided that staying amateur for another year would be better than struggling through four or five events, which proved to be right because she ended up dominating the amateur golf that year in Australia and then has had two quite successful years in Europe. Q. Karrie, this layout, obviously you don t remember it from 1989, but what you ve seen of it this week so far, what are your thoughts? Are you comfortable with it? There is quite a bit of shot-shaping around here? KARRIE WEBB: Yeah I love that part of it, definitely have to move it both ways off the tee. I think that will really come into play if these fairways dry out. Right now they re a bit soft. I was quite surprised, I knew how hot it had been here and I think they ve poured the water on so they haven t lost the fairways. But if the fairways firm up then you really are going to have to shape it off the tee to keep it in the fairway. Then the rough isn t over long, but if the course firms up for the week and the greens start getting a bit firmer too, you still want to be in the fairway for sure. Q. Karrie, can you see a small parallel between what s happened to Yani and your own career, where Yani came out and was so dominating and did everything that you could do in golf so early, and then she’s had to go through a difficult patch and maybe climb the mountain again. KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, that was a terrible year she had last year, three wins, $1.5 million. I would have hated to have a year like that. Q. She did have a really rough patch though, didn t she? KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, she missed a couple of cuts, yes. Seriously, the parallels that I see are that I saw her speak at the dinner last night and she talked about how awful her year was last year. I would have sat here and said exactly the same thing about how awful my year was– Q. At the time? KARRIE WEBB: At the time and it s just when she’s living in that moment of playing unbelievably extremely well, that drop off, and then having to answer questions why, why, why? Why aren t you playing like you did last year? It’s honestly physically impossible to maintain what she was doing. Until she gets a bit older I don&apost think she ll realise that. I think I realise it now, but I always said I didn t think I could maintain it for very long. I think when you re in the moment of it you don t ever believe that you re now going to win tournaments, you re never going to miss cuts and you re always going to be in contention. When that doesn’t happen, the lesson learnt there is that that s how fine a line golf is. I walked on either side of that and I know that now. She hasn t even experienced it. She had a good year last year. She didn t have a great year, but she had a good year. I just hope that she doesn’t put that pressure on herself to have one of those 11 win years. Those come along not very often. I think she gets it but just talking to her last night, and then the Taiwanese fans and whathave-you are very excited about it. I m sure she answered more questions from their media, where they don t have a great golf knowledge. She can t even explain it herself why it dropped off, she doesn’t understand that yet. I d take that year for the next four or five. Q. Karrie, do you feel pressure to perform in Australia still? Do you feel that added expectation because you are so well known here? KARRIE WEBB: I don&apost know if I feel the pressure anymore. I do like playing in Australia or love playing in Australia and I do like to play well, only because the one or two times a year that I get a home field advantage with fans that are actually pulling for me harder than they re pulling for someone from another country. That s what I love about it. I probably put that pressure on myself just so I can have that experience with the fans and give them what they came to watch. I don t really feel like I have anything to prove, so I don t really feel that pressure that I did maybe 10 or 12 years ago. Q. Karrie, it s probably like asking a parent which is their favourite child, but you ve won four of these, is there one that sticks out more than any other, of the four Australia Women’s Opens that you ve won? KARRIE WEBB: Yes, that s hard to say but I d probably say the one that sticks out the most is the one at Kingston Heath. I was two behind with three to play and yeah, I think I was almost in the clubhouse at that stage. I birdied 16 and 17 and then had a good birdie chance on 18 and just missed that to actually win and then won in the play off. When I got to the 15 th green I actually thought I was playing that well that day that I would at least be tied for the lead, so I was very shocked to see that I was two shots behind that day. I just remember how I handled that and it wasn t that I had to press, just hit good shots and see what happens, and that s what happened. I made a couple of birdies and then ended up winning. Then to win at Kingston Heath is pretty special as well. Q. Karrie, I guess it would be the same as last weekend at the Ladies Masters when nothing much seemed to be happening for 10 or 11 holes and then it came. KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, well the Sunday round was probably the trickiest day of the three, we had higher winds that day I was a little bit flat on the front 9 but actually felt like how I finished that front 9 and then played 10 and 11, that sort of kept me in the tournament. I felt like I was pretty patient and I wasn t pressing, and I wasn t getting too frustrated that I wasn t making the birdies I should. I think what helped too is there was hardly any leader boards on the front 9, so I didn t really even know where I stood. Then I saw a leader board on the 10 th tee, didn t hit a great tee shot there and had to make a really good up and down. That, to me was the turning point, even though I then ran up four birdies, if I didn t get up and down there I think the momentum would have really switched in a negative way. So getting up and down there was probably the biggest two shots of the day. Q. You did a great favour to Bob Toohey in that tournament by playing in it. He probably should have shouted you a magnum of champagne for playing at all. Was there any persuasion or you just felt it was right to do it? KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, honestly I did feel a little bit of pressure to play. I won t lie, the state of where that tournament is at right now is disappointing to me. I know Bob has worked tirelessly; he worked tirelessly just to have that event and if it had of run up against this event and I had to play four in a row, I m not sure if I would have played it. It just made it a little easier for me to have a week off last week. Then both my sisters and their kids agreed to come down. It’s the easiest event for my family, especially with my sisters and their kids to come down; it s the easiest one to get to. I want the kids to watch me play a little bit too before I retire. Q. You do love the kids, don t you? KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, so it was a great week. Everything worked out the way it was supposed to I guess and hopefully that just builds the tournaments up, starts to build it back up. I think it would be to the detriment of women’s golf in this country if we weren t to have at least two major professional events on TV. I think young girls need to have the inspiration of watching women play their sport at their best. Even though I was inspired by watching the men’s golf, I remember when the Australian Masters started at Palm Meadows, for me to watch women’s golf on TV was just unbelievable. And I was 15, 16 when that started. I think it s great for the growth of the game to have at least two events on TV. I feel that little bit of responsibility to try and keep that going. I don&apost think I can do much more than what I have over the history of that event, but hopefully that jump starts it in the right direction. Q. Karrie, just on the golf course you mentioned a moment ago that you thought it was a little softer and possibly had to shape your game around it. Do you regard it as a challenge, this course, or is it a particularly hard course for you to play given your game? KARRIE WEBB: Because I haven t played a tournament here anyway, I don t really know how it s going to play. In my mind before I got here I thought it was going to be hard and fast and running. So it s been quite an adjustment to see it quite soft. If we don t get any rain, I know that the fairways will be running and the greens will be blue, so that will be the adjustment through the week, just adjusting with the conditions, the course conditions. I can t tell you how I think it s going to play. I think the front 9 is going to be the 9 that you make most of your score on. I think there are three par 5s in the first six holes and two of them are quite reachable now, let alone with a little bit of run out there. So that s where you make most of your score and then the back 9, there are some quality par 4s out there, that I ll be happy to make four 4s on. If I do any better than that I know I ll be in for a good week. Q. Were you able to get much golf in last week? KARRIE WEBB: A little bit not too much, because I knew I had three weeks straight now and I just sort of kept in touch with things. It made it easier to have a light week knowing how well I played the week before. KATHIE SHEARER: Thank you Karrie.