09 Jun 2022 | Professional golf |
Aussie stars bringing Karrie's vision to life
by Dane Heverin
The smile cannot be wiped from seven-time major champion Karrie Webb’s face as her vision for her former scholarship holder Minjee Lee came to life at the US Women’s Open on Monday morning Australian time.
Webb, who is playing in the Shoprite LPGA Classic in New Jersey - an event she won in 2013 - this week, instilled a belief within Lee, Hannah Green and other scholarship recipients during their amateur days that they can win major championships and she is over the moon to see them achieving those dreams.
“A lot of them have been a part of my scholarship series back in Australia and come over here and they've gone to US Opens. Minjee, the first US Open she attended, was at Sebonack when Inbee won,” Webb said.
“The following year she was my scholarship winner again and actually qualified to play at Pinehurst.
“Same with Greenie. Her first U.S. Open experience was coming over to stay with me at Lancaster Country Club in 2015. Those were the experiences that I wanted. I wanted the girls to aim to play in those events some day and aim to win them.
“For Hannah and Minjee both to have gone on and win the events they attended it's really, really cool for me.”
Lee’s victory last week drew parallels to Webb. The world number three’s triumph came at Pine Needles where Webb also won in 2001 and the win also came in commanding fashion.
The West Australian appeared cool, calm and collected throughout a final round that slammed the door shut on any potential challengers despite the internal jitters she experienced and Webb said Lee handled the occasion better than she had.
“It was just amazing to watch and very special for me to watch her walk down the last with such a big lead knowing she was going to win, because that's what I experienced 21 years ago,” Webb said.
“So it was really special. I was really proud of her. I started my Sunday with a five-shot lead, but I started off quite shaky that day. Going into Sunday's round I just thought if Minjee could get off to a fairly steady start I think she'll be fine, and she birdied the first two holes and I was like, oh, she's off to the races now.
“I knew she had it in her for the rest of the day.”
Special experiences have always underpinned Webb’s relationship with golf.
In recent times, those exceptional moments have come via the performances of Lee and Green, playing rounds with her niece back home in Australia, and spending time with the likes of Stephanie Kyriacou and Karis Davidson - who are both in the field this week - as they make their way on the LPGA Tour.
Of course, her own career has been full of satisfaction and as she returns to the professional game, Webb believes she can produce more amazing memories.
“I don't know what to expect as far as my game, but I think I've had so many special moments and magical moments in my career that I think you always feel like there is some left,” Webb said.
“So I don't show up thinking or expecting to play poorly. I think I can play well and I think it would be lightning in a bottle if I won, but I wouldn't put it past myself to put myself there with a chance.
“It's a lottery as to what could happen. I know that I've done many great things before and who knows.”
Those words bode well for Australian golf fans who are eager to see Webb in action at the Australian Open at Victoria and Kingston Heath in Melbourne this December.
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