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March 17, 2015

Karrie Webb


KELLY THESIER:  Good afternoon, everyone.  I'd like to welcome in the only two‑time champ here at the JTBC Founders Cup, Karrie Webb.  Thank you for joining us today.  This event I know holds very special meaning to you, and actually now as a two‑time winner of it, what is the feeling like when you come back here to Phoenix and you see the Founders Cup everywhere and know what this event means to everyone?
KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, well, I feel like this tournament has more history than years that we've played it.  I've always said, and I'll repeat myself, but it's such a great concept.  Shirley Spork was just sitting outside the media center here and I got to say hello to her.  I think it's very special that we take a week‑‑ we should take more than a week, but we take this week and name a tournament after our 13 special women that founded our Tour.
I think it's great for the younger players.  Like I've said before, I started 20 years ago, and a lot of our founders, a lot more of them were still alive and were a lot more active and out on Tour a little bit more, so I've gotten to know them a little better than some of the younger girls, so I think it's great for them to be able to put faces to names and possibly sit down and hear some of the stories of what they have to tell for us to be able to be where we are today.
To win it in the inaugural year was very special, obviously, and then obviously last year, I think this is a tournament I hope is a part of our history for many years to come.
KELLY THESIER:  The slogan this year, "strong foundation, bright future," could be talking about the LPGA itself.  Last year your wins were part of a year that really was one of the best in the history of the LPGA in terms of a lot of the top players performing well at the same time.  You've seen the LPGA Tour go through ebbs and flows.  How great is it to see the type of momentum the Tour is having, just yesterday actually being nominated as one of the five finalists for sports league of the year by Sports Business Journal; pretty exciting times on the LPGA.  How great is it to see that now?
KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, I think we've come a long way in five, six, seven years.  I feel like in the 20 years I've been on Tour, I think I feel like probably around the year 2000 was the healthiest the LPGA in 20 years has ever been, number of tournaments and such, and then obviously we hit a low point a few years ago, and now we're as good as we've ever been in the 20 years that I've been out here, and I am glad to have been a part of it as a player but also as a player director, and seeing the progress in the boardroom and stuff like that, too, to know that we really are in a healthy place.  It's not just us saying that.  We really, truly are in a healthy place, and we do have a bright future ahead of us.
KELLY THESIER:  Two wins here, and both times you came from six shots back in the final round.  Do you walk into this golf course when you arrive and think, I'm never out of it based on how you can tear it up out here?
KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, I think most people would think that, just because I think low scores are possible out here.  But I was just telling the story when we were walking down 18, last year in the last round when I was walking down 18, the leaders were on 10, so that's how far ahead I was, but only starting six shots behind.  I knew that I probably needed to make a birdie, but even when I made the birdie, as exciting as it was, I still didn't think at the time that that was enough, and definitely not to have won it without even being in a playoff.
Yeah, it's just one of those courses where you can get on a roll, and the conditions are‑‑ I mean, barring a couple of rounds we've played here in the last four years, the conditions are perfect.  The temperature is nice and warm, and not a lot of wind.  It's sort of set up for that sort of scoring.

Q.  Has there been any difference‑‑ I assume you played a practice round today or got out there a little bit.  Any difference in the course setup from the past couple years?
KARRIE WEBB:  Actually it's a bit softer.  Quite a bit, actually.  I was picking mud up on my ball in the fairways and the greens are a lot softer.  I don't know if that's the last of the water that they intend to put on the course or not for the week, but if it stays that soft, I think scoring will be even lower than it normally is.

Q.  Could you just tell us about the state of your game and then the work you've done with Mike McGetrick, how that's progressing?
KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, it's funny, the three tournaments I just played overseas, my worst result was probably the best I felt on the golf course, so it's pretty hard to make that sound reasonable.  But I really felt like things have progressed to a point where I'm not grinding on the range, and I was away‑‑ it was six weeks since I'd seen Mike, and last year at the end of the year there was a five‑week gap where I hadn't seen him, and I got so far back to my old pattern that I felt like I had to start over again, which made me probably work harder in the off‑season than I had because I felt like I just needed to get my body to believe that this is the way I was going to swing it from now on.
You know, I just worked with Mike over the weekend, and I was‑‑ it was the best that I had seen it.  So I had maintained a lot of the work that we've done by myself on the road, which feels really good, and I hit it‑‑ I actually hit it quite well in Singapore, just didn't score very well.  My bad swings were very penalizing, and even though I felt like I putted all right, my stats don't look like that.  I hit a lot of good putts, they just didn't go in that week.

Q.  In layman's terms, what's the best way to describe kind of what Mike is doing for you?
KARRIE WEBB:  We're just trying to keep me in my spine angle more throughout my swing.  I came out of my spine angle a little bit on my takeaway and really came out of my spine angle on my downswing and I'd lost a lot of distance doing that and was very inconsistent with my contact and finding where the ground was.  It's definitely made that a lot more consistent.
I've gained distance back.  I probably lost almost a club in irons, and I've gained that back and probably a little bit more.  This time last year, even though I won, I was struggling with knowing how far I was hitting it because numbers that I'd been hitting since I was 20, I wasn't even getting.  Out here in the desert I was, and that's probably why I could just use my normal numbers because normally out here we hit it a little bit further, so I could just go to my normal numbers and know what to hit.
Yeah, so I've gained that back.  I'm still working on the distance with the driver, but that's coming along.

Q.  Michelle Wie was just in here and said after she won her first major last year she's put almost more pressure on herself to try to get another one.  After you won your first won one, did it free you up in the sense that, all right, I've won one, I've got that off, I can go ahead now, or did you put more pressure on yourself?
KARRIE WEBB:  Well, I won the next one the next year, too.  To me it was‑‑ I didn't have to answer the questions of when are you going to win a major, and that was the relief of it all I don't think.  I don't think the pressure I put on myself was any less, but I think I felt like the monkey was off my back, even to myself, not just that I didn't have to answer it to the media.
Yeah, the next three years after I won, the end of '99, my first major, I won another five.  I definitely felt more of a relief than actual putting pressure on myself to prove that it wasn't a fluke, I guess.

Q.  I know you're buds with Ms.Suggs.  Have you talked to her recently and is there something she's said to you over the years that's kind of stuck with you?
KARRIE WEBB:  I actually called her on Sunday just because we were coming out here, and I pretty much was sure she wouldn't have been well enough to travel.  I hadn't talked to her since January, so I gave her a call.
I don't know if anything that Louise has ever said to me as far as how to play the game is something I'm always reminded of, but I'm always reminded of the stories that she's told me and the very first time that we met, and I've told the story before, but we met in the media center after the Sprint Title Holders which I won in my rookie year, and I had just won $180,000, and she informed me that that's how much she made for her entire career, and I'd just made it as a 21 year old in one week.
You know, I'm always reminded of those sorts of stories and where all the women before us, what they've accomplished and done.  And no less great than‑‑ Louise Suggs' career earnings versus my career earnings, to me it's what they've accomplished along the way.

Q.  With her not here this week, she said she's not going to Augusta, either, just travel is not‑‑ not ready for that right now.  Are you kind of bummed when you come up 18 that she's not there sitting with the other founders?
KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, because she wasn't here last year, either.  Yeah, it is sad that she's not here because I think‑‑ well, for me I have had the greatest relationship out of all the founders with Louise, and early on in my career she was the one that was the most visible on Tour.  So it is different for her not to be here.  Still great that Shirley and Marilyn are here, and the other pioneers that we honor, as well.  But yeah, there is something different when you know she's at home watching it rather than being on the 18th green.

Q.  The founders and the LPGA in general have done a lot to promote the sport of golf to women.  There are a lot of sports out there that are very male centric.  We need more girls to pick up the clubs.  What would you say to all the kids out there to get them off the couch and get them to have a swing?
KARRIE WEBB:  Well, I think I'm a sports nut in general, so I think encouraging girls especially to get out there and play sport, whether it is a sport that most boys play‑‑ like one of my nieces plays soccer, and she's one of the only girls in her age group, and she plays against the boys.  But she doesn't‑‑ it doesn't bother her.  But I think a lot of girls are intimidated by that, but I think they should get out there and be active.
And with golf, I think it's definitely a sport where it takes time to learn a lot of the game, but I know there's a lot of great coaches out there that have different techniques now to keep kids interested in playing golf and making it fun and getting them to stick around long enough to realize that they're pretty good at it.

Q.  Karrie, when you talk about that growth, and one of the biggest numbers I think for the LPGA is watching from 2010 when 4,500 girls per year were being touched by the Girls Golf Program, to now this year we're expecting more than 50,000 in a single year, to see that kind of growth in youth golf, how big is that for the future of the game and how much does it feel that this event is having an impact, too, on how that program is doing?
KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, well, that's the other side of the coin, the concept of this tournament is that we're celebrating our past but investing in our future with the money from the charity‑‑ the money raised at this event going to the LPGA Foundation and LPGA junior girls golf.  Obviously those numbers are very impressive and really shows the success of this event because I think you think about a percentage of the 50,000 girls that are going through that program this year, how many of them could be out here one day and saying that it was because of that money that we raised at this event that got them into golf and kept them in golf.

Q.  How much does 2016 Olympics drive you this year?
KARRIE WEBB:  Well, I think the Olympics is pretty much why I'm still playing full time, so I guess that's a pretty big driving factor for me to be working as hard as I am, and really the reason why I did change coaches in the middle of last year was I felt like I was putting in the work and needed‑‑ I needed to get a bit more out of my game and see certain results that I wasn't seeing.
You know, I think that's given me a fresher perspective on getting to the end of next year and hopefully being one of the two representatives for Australia at the Olympics.

Q.  What's so special about the Olympics for you?
KARRIE WEBB:  Well, for me I think I'm just a sports nut, and I grew up watching the Olympics.  A cousin of mine played for the Australian women's basketball team in 1984, and I remember watching the Moscow Olympics and then '84 LA, I was definitely old enough to remember watching the Olympics then.
You know, I have just always loved the Olympics.  I was a part of carrying the torch at the Sydney Olympics the evening before the opening ceremony in Sydney.  So I've just really loved‑‑ always loved the Olympics.  It was never something that playing golf I ever thought I could be a part of, and a few years back when we were accepted to be one of the new sports in 2016, I never envisioned playing full time at 41.  That was never in my plans.  But that definitely has kept me out here.

Q.  Do you think that you're going to slow down a little bit after the Olympics?
KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, probably slow down.  I think you'll still see me, but maybe not as often.

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