Date: July 14, 2011

Webb mentors Series winners at US Open

courtesy: LPGA While they might have been carrying or wearing Australian flags and having fun as they followed World Golf Hall of Famer Karrie Webb around The Broadmoor, three Australian amateurs were also closely watching what it takes to become one of the best players in the world. “We&aposre here to see how she prepares for a tournament and to learn about her routine on and off the course,” said Ashley Ona, 19, of Brisbane. “I want to see what it takes to be where she is and how to be a professional,” added Breanna Elliott, 19, of Victoria. Ona, Elliott and Jessica Speechley, 22, of Perth, are in Colorado Springs, Colo., this week for the U.S. Women&aposs Open because they were the top performers in the “Karrie Webb Series” this year. Four years ago, Webb launched her program that offers up to 12 tournaments in which amateurs compete for points. Final leadersin the points race earn a scholarship to support their golf expenses and tournament travel expenses. Each player is invited on a trip to the U.S. Women&aposs Open to spend the week with Webb. “This is our reward for working hard,” said Ona. “It&aposs an incentive to come over here.” But Webb doesn&apost just pay for the players to come to the United States and then cut them loose to do their own thing while they are here. She rents a house for the week and shares it with the amateurs. As housemates for a week, the young Aussies see exactly what a championship week looks like from sunrise to sunset. “I&aposve told the girls that I think I get as much from it as they do,” said Webb, a two-time Women&aposs Open champion. “It takes me back to when I first started playing and it&aposs refreshing to see their points of view.” Webb was mentored by PGA star Greg Norman and had an opportunity to “shadow” Norman as a junior player. She traveled to Florida to watch the Aussie great and learned how he prepared for tournaments. After much success in her own LPGA career years later, Webb had the means to return the favor to young women back home hoping to follow her to the LPGA. “We need to strengthen the Australian contingent around the world,” said Webb. “Our guys have been doing well for a long time, so there&aposs some pressure on these girls to get to the same level. By doing this program, it helps them learn and gives them a goal. They know what the award is at the end of the year.” While all three players will be at the Australian National Team&aposs golf camp in Houston later this month, Speechley&aposs next focus will be on the first stage of LPGA Q-School in late July. She has spent time talking to Webb about the qualifying tournament, and Webb has reassured Speechley about the steps to turn professional. The LPGA veteran&aposs willingness to listen and help the players has made an impact on them already. “It&aposs a pretty big deal for Karrie to give up time for us during such an important week,” said Elliott. But for Webb, who learned at the elbow of Norman, helping amateurs take a step forward is crucial to the success of her young compatriots. “I&aposm in a different place in my career now, so it helps me more than it hurts me to have them here at the U.S. Women&aposs Open this week,” said Webb. “It&aposs been really rewarding for me and sometimes I&aposve asked myself why didn&apost I do this sooner?”