23 Aug 2022 | Professional golf |
Remembering Karrie’s Melbourne Sandbelt triumphs
by Dane Heverin
Only 100 days remain until the 2022 ISPS HANDA Australian Open tees off and what better way to mark the occasion than to reflect on Karrie Webb’s famous victories at this year’s host venues.
Seven-time major champion Webb, who is a confirmed starter for this year’s world-first event, is the only person to have won the national title at Victoria Golf Club and Kingston Heath Golf Club, so it is time to take a trip down memory lane to remember her fourth and fifth ISPS HANDA Australian Open crowns.
The most recent of which came at Victoria in 2014 when Webb, who was ranked number eight in the world at the time, bounced back from controversy the week prior to win on the LPGA Tour for a 40th time.
At the Australian Ladies Masters, where she was the defending champion, Webb was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard and it appeared as if it was not going to be her week again when she teed off on the Sunday five shots behind co-leaders Chella Choi of South Korea and 17-year-old amateur Minjee Lee.
Strong winds took hold of Victoria in the final round however and Webb’s experience shone through as the inexperienced contenders struggled.
Lee, now a two-time major champion and the current world number two, fell away with a six-over round of 78, while Choi and Webb battled it out.
“I was happy to see the conditions were going to be a little tougher today,” Webb said after her round. “I felt like that gave me a chance to make up some ground.”
She capitalised on that opportunity with six birdies in her four-under round of 68 to enter the clubhouse with a one-shot advantage over Choi who had played 14 holes to that point.
The South Korean broke the course record a day earlier with a ten-under round of 62, but she was unable to recapture her magic as she failed to make a birdie on the back nine despite having a 10-foot putt at the last to force a playoff.
“I got off to a great start and I just did a great job mentally today,” Webb said. “I can’t think of another time when I held myself together as well as that.”
Webb’s resilience pushed her over the line at Kingston Heath in 2008 too.
She even predicted that her mental fortitude would ensure she was lifting the trophy for a second straight year ahead of the final round.
“There are players up there who haven’t won an Australian Open,” the then world number three said after her third round of 73.
“I have. I have experience at winning golf tournaments.”
Throughout her decorated career, the World Golf Hall of Famer always seemed to find a new gear when the stakes were at their highest and the 15th hole that Sunday was no exception.
Taking an iron off the tee at the 269m par-4, Webb made the uncharacteristic error of depositing her ball into a fairway bunker but that moment proved to be the catalyst for her title charge.
South Korean Ji-Yai Shin was playing the final hole with a two shot lead and to stay in touch Webb produced her shot of the tournament by putting her bunker shot to five metres from the pin.
“I could have taken a nine-iron when I was in that bunker but I knew if I caught the lip I would have been three behind and probably couldn’t win,” Webb said.
“I played a wedge instead and it turned out just right.
“To be able to think clearly enough at that time was very pleasing.”
That shot started a breath-taking burst of golf of the highest quality with back-to-back birdies at the 16th and 17th allowing Webb to calmly par the last hole to book her place in a playoff with Shin.
They headed back to the 18th tee and Webb played the closing hole in identical fashion.
An immaculate drive, followed by an immaculate second shot and two good putts.
A par to Shin took them back to the 18th tee again, and a dialled-in Webb nearly-mirrored her previous two trips down the last.
An immaculate drive, followed by an immaculate second shot, but this time only one perfect putt was required - a sharply turning putt that followed a similar line to her two previous birdie opportunities.
“The thing I was happiest with was my composure all through the tournament,” Webb said.
Australia's greatest major winner was the first big name to commit to the historic 2022 ISPS HANDA Australian Open which will feature men's, women's and All Abilities events. She has since been joined by fellow major champion Hannah Green, PGA Tour winner Lucas Herbert and DP World Tour winner Ryan Fox in confirming their place, and there are more exciting announcements to come as the tournament nears.
Find out more about the 2022 ISPS HANDA Australian Open here.
The ISPS HANDA Australian Open is supported by the Victorian Government through Visit Victoria.
Tickets, Hospitality and VIP Experiences for both the Fortinet PGA Championship and The ISPS HANDA Australian Open are on sale via Ticketek now.
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