Date: July 10, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Rising stars lap up Karrie time

The winners of arguably the greatest prize in Australian amateur golf had an unexpected second bonus recently.

Sydney’s Grace Kim and Gold Coaster Becky Kay knew they’d been for an experience of a lifetime when they were awarded the Karrie Webb Scholarship and given the chance to spend the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship alongside the legend herself.

But when it came to head to Illinois for the third major of the women’s season, the youngsters were delighted to also find another Queenslander, Sarah Jane Smith, would share Webb’s house – and her experiences – for the week.

Webb, who has put her name, time and money behind the annual national amateur series for 11 years, said she “again had a wonderful week” with the aspiring Aussie stars.

“The girls had a blast in the house … (and) Sarah Jane Smith stayed with us this year, so the girls got to experience seeing how two different Aussies prepare,” Webb said.

“I thank Sarah for being so giving to the girls throughout the week. I know they loved it.

“It was also fun seeing Becky and Grace dressed up in their Aussie `bikinis’ and out there not only supporting me, but all the Aussies in the field. I think it put a smile on each one of our faces when we saw them.

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“It is always a fun time during a serious week, but it’s always great to see the girls learning and being motivated to do what is necessary to join us out on tour one day.”

Both scholarship winners, who finished first and second in the Karrie Webb Series when it ended in May, not only stayed in the rented house alongside their heroes, were up close to watch Webb, Smith, Hannah Green and Rebecca Artis play practice rounds.

But as always for scholarship holders, it was the personal time they spent with seven-time major champion Webb that was so important.

“I really enjoyed staying with Karrie and Sarah Jane,” Kim said.

“I learnt so much on the course with Karrie’s preparation, especially with her short game.

“She practises every possible situation around the greens – she might use one club, but has three different shots with it.

“When we went to the national camp in Houston (last week), on my first day I asked my coach Khan (Pullen) if could we focus on this!”

Kay, now a two-time scholarship holder, also found it “so beneficial to watch these world class players prepare”.

“I found that Karrie and a lot of top players do so much work on the course to prepare,” Kay said.

“They’re not worried so much about hitting many balls (on the range), but more getting to know the course as best they can.

“We also got to attend the past champions’ dinner with Karrie. There were 15 past winners who each told their story of how they won the PGA Championship, which was very cool and motivating.

“It’s great to see these ladies still recognised.”

The 2019 Karrie Webb Series begins at the McLeod Country Golf Club with the Queensland Stroke Play Championship from 26-28 August.