Date: May 31, 2018
Author: Martin Blake

Webb back in the saddle at US Open


Karrie Webb is back playing at the US Women’s Open this week, and the veteran Australian feels mentally fresh after an experimental part-time playing schedule this season.

Webb, 43, is playing just her fourth tournament of 2018, a blocked schedule that the flagged at the start of the year.

“I have enjoyed coming back and competing,’’ she told the media at Shoal Creek in Alabama today on the eve of the biggest women’s tournament in golf. “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 you not seem like that yearly long grinds that I have done for the past 22, 23 years.”

Webb’s seven major championship wins include back-to-back victories in the US Women’s Open in 2000 and 2001. She received an exemption from the USGA to compete this week, having spent much of the past few months back at home in Townsville. At home, she has enjoyed hanging with her sister and her nieces, “going to gymnastics and soccer matches, and one of my nieces is playing golf, so playing golf with her’’.

She returned to the US recently and played the Kingsmill Championship as a warm-up to this week.

“This is a real experimental year as far as with where I am at with playing part-time,’’ she said. “I never thought I could be a part-timer, to be honest. I have always been a grinder and practiser. I have had a relatively good schedule for many years.

“I'm always a practiser 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.’’

Webb is one of seven Australians in the field along with world No. 8 Minjee Lee, Su Oh, Sarah Jane Smith, Katherine Kirk, Sarah Kemp and amateur Robyn Choi. Lee, 22, who won in X last week, is one of the favorites for the event which is worth $US 5 million.

Webb is one of the few players in the field who had a full practice round on the course, which is saturated from heavy rain early in the week. There has been so much rain that there is a debate about whether the USGA should allow the players to lift, place and clean their golf balls when the tournament starts on Thursday, although Webb said she did not expect it. On Monday, she intentionally practised in some of the wetter areas to begin preparing for the “mud balls’’ that are expected.

But the Queenslander is excited to be there, make no mistake. “The US Open is a special golf tournament,’’ she said. “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.’’