Resilient Karrie Webb Wins the Australian
Why didn’t I see it coming? With all my efforts to pull off the crystal ball prediction for the Australian Open, I left out a major component, and an Australian to boot. First, I was preoccupied with Suzann Pettersen’s very presence. She’s such a competitor that I just take it for granted that she’ll be close by the end of the weekend, and I’m usually right. Second, I was preoccupied by Lydia Ko’s budding career, aware that she’s won twice already, and always seems likely to put together several good rounds in succession.
Third, I was caught off-guard by the magnificent score of 62 that Chella Choi brought in for round 3. I thought that even a moderately special round on Sunday would give her the tournament. Then, of course, I took notice of Minja Lee, top Australian amateur, who kept hanging in there and hanging in there until I got it through my head that she must be real.
Despite Minja Lee’s fine credentials as a multiple winner of the Australian Amateur title, it turns out that I was thinking of the wrong Australian. After all, I didn’t see Karrie Webb in the top group on the leader board after the third round. With all that young, explosive talent at the top, no one was going to come back from a five shot deficit – not with this group. I, of course, also forgot that the thirty-nine year old Webb is the youngest player on the LPGA tour to be inducted into the Hall of Fame after turning pro in 1994. It escaped my mind completely that she had won on the tour thirty-nine times, once for each year of her life, and has now won her fortieth. It didn’t dawn on me that Karrie Webb was the eleventh most successful winner on tour in the history of the women’s game, and is no. 1 among currently active players. – in short, I lost touch with the fact that Karrie Webb is one of the best to ever tee it up at this, the highest level at which the game is played.
Karrie Webb is what her fellow Australian, Minja Lee, aspires to become – come to think of it, everyone else would love attaining such a ranking as well. When Webb woke up on the morning of the final round, she saw that the wind had whipped up after three calm days, and got the idea that the climate change increased her chances. She is Australian, after all, and has played in Australian conditions more than anyone else. She was right. Webb finished at twelve under at the end of the day, winning the tournament by one.
For the others, it was an “if only” experience. If Lydia Ko had just managed one more of her sub-70s rounds, as she had the first three days, almost making 68s and 69s look like the new par, she might have been the one. But no, the New Zealander ballooned just enough by shooting a 73 to take herself out of contention.
If only Chella Choi had kept one smidgeon of the magic from the third round, just one hole’s worth, it all might have turned out differently. With a disappointing 74, it was still almost enough, but golf doesn’t work by coming close, and after an initial birdie, Choi went double bogey, bogey and fifteen straight pars. I’d throw a victory party after that, but for her – not so great. It was worse for the persistent Lee, who skied to a 78, but she’ll be back. We know that now, even though she’s so new that it’s hard to find a photo or bio on her.
Last week, Karrie Webb was disqualified from the Australian Ladies Masters for signing an incorrect scorecard. I still don’t know why players don’t go into the tent with a team of accountants to make sure that doesn’t happen, and I’m also ok with a card being corrected and submitted, instead of an assumption that the player is some sort of criminal, but more on that some other time.
Still, it was the best way to bounce back I can think of, by winning the next week. I guess it isn’t all about youth on tour – Karrie Webb looks like she’s not nearly done yet.