July 1, 2003
NORTH PLAINS, OREGON
RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 58th United States Women's Open Championship. We're all excited to be here once again, and we're so pleased that Karrie Webb is joining us as our first interview client, two-time Women's Open Champion. Karrie, in 1997 when this championship was played here at Pumpkin Ridge, you shot 72, 73, 65, 68. You finished 4th at that time. That gives you good feelings for this golf course, I would imagine.
KARRIE WEBB: Well, it does, Rhonda, but I didn't really remember a whole lot. Yesterday I played 18 holes, and today I played 9. But yesterday -- and even coming in here, I could only remember a few of the holes, for whatever reason. It's actually quite unusual, because normally I remember, especially U.S. Open courses, I remember a lot of the holes. So it was quite different to go out there, even though I've played here before, yesterday, there was only a couple of tees that I knew where I needed to hit it. So obviously the course is a lot longer than '97, so, you know, some of the tee shots were different, just because of that.
Q. Karrie, can you talk about -- do you feel comfortable coming in here, there's been a lot of -- obviously Annika has been in the news, and now there's so many young players, here. Do you feel --
KARRIE WEBB: Because I'm pretty old now (laughter.)
Q. Do you feel that you're in a good position because there's not a lot of spotlight on you as there was when you were two-time defending champion?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I guess so. I guess I've never tried to get too caught up in the spotlight or the focus that's on me, because I think that I put enough pressure on myself to do well at this tournament. So that's probably all I need.
Q. Could you try to relate the pressure, if there was any, that you felt last year trying to become the first to win three in a row, to any other experiences like that in majors?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, I'd say -- I think that I tried to put it to the back of my mind, but obviously I knew that -- what it meant, if I won last year. I think I probably had -- my practice rounds were probably too good last year, I think. That's the good thing about the last couple of days, I haven't -- I've hit it all right, but not -- last year I felt like I was on top of the world. It was just a formality to play the four rounds, the way I played the practice rounds, that I definitely would have a shot to win. And like I said last year, those two rounds were completely -- I guess a fluke, because I felt fairly good about things before going into the tournament. So I'd say that it's probably a different pressure than I ever faced because I think in this tournament you face the most pressure throughout the whole year, as this week, just because it's a big -- This is the best tournament of the year, and you play the toughest golf course. So physically and mentally, there's a lot more demands on you than any other tournament that you play.
Q. I guess it's safe to say we're accustomed to seeing you higher on the money list. How would you characterize your year-to-date?
KARRIE WEBB: I think what I've realized, especially this year, is that when I was on top of the money list, you don't -- I think a bad week was finishing 12th or making a bogey on the last to finish outside the top five or something silly. I think what I've learned throughout this year is how close excellent and good and pretty good is. I feel like I'm not playing too badly, I just have not put four rounds together in a tournament yet. And I've always had one bad round that really throws me out of contention. And whether it's early in the tournament or late in the tournament, that's just been my consistent pattern. And I really feel good about the state of my game. I had a bit of a bad putting spell there for a month or so, but I think that's getting back on track. And I just feel fairly good about the way I've been hitting it. So it's just a matter of just getting some momentum going on the golf course, and making the good par save at the right time or a good birdie when you need it, when you hit a good shot. So that's just what I need to get over the hump on, and just put four solid rounds together.
RHONDA GLENN: Karrie, is this the longest championship course you've ever played, 6500 yards up to 6550.
KARRIE WEBB: I guess so. It's -- the fairways are fairly firm and fast, and even yesterday -- Compared to yesterday and today the course changed overnight. The greens were a lot firmer today and the fairways were even faster today. So whether or not any water gets put on the fairways remains to be seen. But some of the holes that are lengthened are probably not -- Within the 6 or 7 years since we played with here, with technology, with how hard the fairways are, they're probably not playing that much harder.
Q. For those of us who don't follow the Women's Tour regularly, has there been a noticeable difference since Annika played at the Colonial and with the recent emergence of Michelle Wie, have you sensed more of a buzz, the crowds are different?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, Michelle Wie isn't on Tour, she's only here ever now and then. So as far as Annika is concerned, obviously the attention to our Tour has been a lot more, and I think -- I think it's sad in a way, because you guys now think Annika is a good player, just because she played two rounds at Colonial. Whereas we all knew she was a great player before she did that, which is good for her, because at least now she gets the recognition of what a fantastic player she is. But it's unfortunate she had to do what she did to get that recognition. But since then, obviously there's been a lot more focus on the Tour, and I think that's only been a positive thing.
RHONDA GLENN: Bigger galleries, by any chance?
KARRIE WEBB: Following one group, definitely. If you were in that group, you'd say there's bigger galleries.
Q. Is it also disheartening for you, who has established herself as obviously one of the best players on Tour, that there is -- the buzz is being created by Annika, and as you said Michelle isn't on Tour, a lot of the buzz here is about Michelle, is that a little disheartening for you, as someone who is obviously one of the best?
KARRIE WEBB: In what way would it be disheartening?
Q. Maybe some of the attention that should be focused on you is focused on Michelle?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, as far as I think, Annika deserves the attention. I'm not particularly worried about it. If I was in Annika's position and no one was talking about the way I'd been playing, then maybe I'd be a little shocked. As far as Michelle Wie goes, she's a story, and she's obviously a very talented player and has a great future ahead of her. And right now she's another story that you guys are writing about. It doesn't particularly offend me if I'm not in the paper now. If I'm in the paper on Monday morning holding up the trophy, then I'll be very happy.
RHONDA GLENN: There's a famous quote that Judy Bell said, "Everybody came out to watch Mickey Wright play golf, and then they discovered the rest of us."
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I think that has been -- because there's a lot more media out watching our Tour, especially in the lead-up to Colonial, I think, you know, that that was good for us, because I think it showed that even though Annika is the best player in the world there's a lot of players out there that are good players.
Q. Karrie, could you compare this course to Prairie Dunes last year?
KARRIE WEBB: They're not real similar at all. This is very tree-lined. Prairie Dunes is a lot more open, where the wind -- even if the wind gets up here, the trick to that is just that you're down in the trees a lot and having to judge that. But last year it was a lot more open, and I think they both had different challenges. I think this course, I think -- last year I don't know if driving was as much of a premium. The rough is long, but I think this year driving is -- even though the rough isn't quite as long as normal, I think that just the way the greens are firming up and just the different sections in the greens, it's really hard to get to the pins if you miss the fairways.
Q. Do you think the careers of you and the other top players should be injured by how many matches you win or is that only part of the equation?
KARRIE WEBB: I believe it's only part of the equation. Obviously the majors -- the four majors are the biggest tournaments of the year. And if I'm a really good player and have won regular tournaments, your next step is to win majors. But there's a lot of great players, men and women, I don't think you could ever say they're bad players, if they haven't won a major. Like I said, you don't go in and play bad on purpose at a major, it's just sometimes it's just not meant to be. I've played really well at majors and not won, and you can't do anything about that. And it's a matter of timing, matter of luck and matter of playing well. And sometimes some of those great players that have won numerous amount of times on their respective tours and not won a major, it's more just that they peaked their game a little early or too late or just got beaten by a better player that week.
Q. If somebody won two dozen tournaments at the end of their career and no major, can they be considered a great player?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, 24 times is -- I think that's pretty outstanding in this day and age to win 24 times, whether there's no majors or ten majors.
Q. On the men's side of things, when you think of greatness, you look at 18 by Nicklaus and not so much the total victories by Sam Snead. Do you think that also applies to the LPGA, when people look at the great numbers and the great stats, that they first go to the Majors and then go to the Katie Whitworth or the what-have-you?
KARRIE WEBB: I'm not sure.
Q. Did that make sense at all?
KARRIE WEBB: You're just asking how people look at the LPGA as far as who is a good player and who isn't?
Q. Do you think the same standards apply to the men and the women? The men's side, the benchmark is how many majors they've won. On the women's side, is it more important to have won more majors or to have won more tournaments?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, I think it's just a combination. I think to be classed as -- Well, obviously our Hall of Fame criteria is to be classed as a Hall of Fame, you have to have won a major or Player-of-the-Year. So either one of those is an outstanding achievement. So I think you have to at least have done something in that respect to be classed as a great player. But like I said earlier, if you won 24 times -- put it this way, if I -- if you told me I was going to win 24 times, no majors, not in the Hall of Fame, I'd still feel like I was a good player.
Q. Would it be better to win five Tour events or one U.S. Open this year?
KARRIE WEBB: Probably one U.S. Open.
Q. Or one major?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, one major.
Q. Karrie, can you relate to how much golf you played when you were 13 to how much they're playing now, tournament golf, and do they run the risk of getting burned out?
KARRIE WEBB: I really am -- I'm in awe of someone like Michelle Wie, because of how good she is at such a young age. But I feel a little sad for her in many ways, because she's going to get to a stage in her life -- In a lot of sports, like tennis, I think it's okay that these kids are playing at 15 and 16 on the Pro Tour, because their life span as a tennis player is to 30. So they still have plenty of years to actually enjoy their life. But golf can be played just for so many years. When I was 13 I was still -- I was still a kid. I was still shooting 85 off the ladies tees. Michelle Wie is going to be around for a long time. I just don't want her to get -- I just hope that she's doing what she's doing right now because she wants to do it, I guess. I hope she doesn't get to a time in her life, someone like a Jennifer Capriatti, when she just doesn't want to do it anymore, because that would be a shame. It would be a waste. I just hope that she -- She's still got four and a half years or whatever it is to be enable to play on the LPGA. And with the schedule that she's doing now, she's -- and I also -- I worry about when I was a rookie, that was a very exciting year for me. Everything was new to me. I would be nervous hitting balls next to Beth Daniel or Nancy Lopez. Everything was a buzz, being in the locker room with these players was a buzz. And I was 21 at the time, and I was the youngest on Tour then. So since then you have 18 years old there every year. And for someone like a Michelle Wie or the twins, when they play their rookie year it's going to be a matter of now I'm playing for money. It's not going to be that excitement of, oh, my God, I'm playing on the LPGA, I'm playing professional golf. It's almost they know they're going to do that and they're pretty much doing that now, they're just not reaping the financial rewards for it.
Q. When you were 13, how many competitive tournaments did you play, can you remember?
KARRIE WEBB: I don't know. I played a lot of weekend events and stuff like that, a lot of on my school holidays and stuff like that. I don't know how many -- I was in 8th grade when I was 13, so it wasn't -- I don't know. At that stage I started dropping a lot of things -- extra stuff that I was doing, because I did want to play -- I did want to practice and play golf and become better. Just before my 14th birthday, I got down to a 9 handicap, I was only shooting 80, just before my 14th birthday. So it wasn't something that -- I still had the ambition that I wanted to play golf for a living, but I wasn't doing it like I was already doing it for a living, I guess.
Q. The rest of the summer, you've got obviously this tournament and the British Open. You have a chance to really make this a very good year. Do you feel like your game is in a place where you can probably do that?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, I hope it is. I think what I was trying to get at before is what I've learned is how close you can be to playing very well and not have the results. So if I keep continuing on the path that I am, I feel confident enough that I can have a very good end to the year.
Q. You know there's a real small difference, do you think that's a mental difference or a physical difference?
KARRIE WEBB: I don't know. If I could put a finger on why I haven't put four rounds together, I probably would have done it by now. So I think it's just a matter of just trying to be patient and just keep working hard, and I think everything will fall into place.
Q. About a month ago you asked Tony Roosenburg to stop using his name to promote his tournaments, have you heard from him?
KARRIE WEBB: I hadn't heard from him before that and not after that.
Q. Have you heard if he's still using your name?
KARRIE WEBB: I haven't seen anything in any papers.
Q. You're happy with the situation?
KARRIE WEBB: I guess so. It was more that if he was really serious in extending me an invitation, I think I would have heard about it before he was writing newspaper articles about it. So I don't know if he was actually really serious about it enough to ask me. It was just sort of a spin-off from Annika playing at Colonial, and he gets his sponsors names in the paper.
Q. Which tournament was it?
KARRIE WEBB: I think it was the Heineken Classic.
Q. Has Annika provided you motivation to work harder or is that irrelevant?
KARRIE WEBB: I think the way I've played the last 18 months is -- I'm working harder than I ever have in my whole career right now. I think when things are going really well, it's easy to set your mind at ease and take a few days off. When you're not quite happy with the results for me, I can't relax. I have to -- I'm just not satisfied, so I've got to work. People might think from my results that I've been slacking off, but I'm actually working harder than I ever have.
RHONDA GLENN: Karrie, thank you so much for your time. Good luck.
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