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March 17, 2011

Karrie Webb


THE MODERATOR: Karrie, welcome. Thanks for joining us. Just start off by talking a little bit about the charity that you chose and why you chose that.
KARRIE WEBB: Christopher Reeve's Paralysis Foundation is my charity, and I've been involved with them since '98, the LPGA Skins Game, was the charity that I chose to represent then; and the foundation was quite young. Christopher Reeve obviously only had his spinal cord injury probably a few years before that, three years before that, I think.
And the reason why I'm involved in that is my lifelong coach, Kelvin Haller, is a quadriplegic and has been since I was 16 years old. So it was just something -- I told myself if I ever was successful playing golf, that I wanted to be involved with a paralysis foundation.
And you know, I think things happen for a reason, even bad things, and I think Christopher Reeve brought to light, you know, brought a lot of interest to spinal cord injury, and a lot of progress has been made in the last 15 years.
THE MODERATOR: And then also just some comments on your time here so far. How does the course look; how does your game look?
KARRIE WEBB: My time's been pretty short. I got in yesterday afternoon, so just played nine holes in the Pro Am. The course is nice. It's in good shape. I haven't seen obviously the back nine, but I think it sets up for, you know, pretty low scoring, I think, if we don't get too much wind. I think the greens, once you get to the greens, are fairly flat. So I see lots of birdies out there.

Q. Did you like the fact that it was changed so that you could have some of the money go toward the charity of your choice? Did you like that change and the fact that the money doubled as well?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. I mean I never -- I've always thought the concept of this tournament was great. So I never had a problem with it.
Obviously, now that if I play well this week, I'm also able to give back to a charity I've been involved with for a long time, you know, that just makes it even more special.

Q. How is your game right now?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, it's pretty good. The last time I played things went pretty well for me, so no, it feels pretty good.
You know, it's nice to get a win early in the season. Hopefully that sets things up for a big year for me, but you know, we'll have to wait and see for that.

Q. So how do you find managing the gaps in the schedule to stay sharp from a great victory like that to coming into this week?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. Well, I've played four in a row because I played two in Australia, so I needed two weeks off. And actually, my two weeks went pretty quickly because I went back to Australia, Singapore and then flew back to Florida last Wednesday and then flew out here today. So I've been on a plane for probably three or four days of that two weeks also.
You know, it is what it is. You know, I still will play the exact same amount of tournaments that I have for probably the past five or six years, so you know, I don't play 30 tournaments a year. I try to play about 20 LPGA events, and you know, always play the two in Australia and maybe one or two somewhere else. So you know, that's my schedule.
So I've dealt with big gaps in schedules, the way I've set my schedule up before. So it's just a matter of when you come back out being sharp and ready to go. But for me, as an older or veteran player, as I'm often described, I need to be fresh to be out there anyway. And that's why I don't play as much as the other girls would like to.

Q. So in coming back, you're fresh. What was your lead time to ramp up this week to be ready for this week? Couple days?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, I only got back in the country on Wednesday. So you know, I practiced a couple of days when I was in Australia, but just practiced over the weekend.
So you know, it's not my ideal preparation, but you know, I'd planned to be in Australia before this tournament was announced. So you know, my schedule is a little different than the way it probably would have been.

Q. Would you like to see those Aussie events on the LPGA schedule?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I would because that would mean that there's some money in the Australian sport. You know, I think it's an all-around struggle in Australia for supporting any sport. I mean all sports are struggling down there.
But yeah, I mean if that were to be the case, that would mean that they'd found a couple million dollars from two companies for two weeks.

Q. Do you think also the Olympics will get more government money in Australia to golf development programs?
KARRIE WEBB: I hope so. I mean, you know, that was one of the exciting things for me when the Olympics were announced. I think you know -- and Australia -- I mean our Olympic athletes are probably the most celebrated athletes in our country.
So you know, I would hope that, you know, there will be some more money going towards golf. I think golf gets quite a bit now, but you know, you see, like even for the men to play the Australian Masters in Melbourne and to pay Tiger three million dollars to go there, you know, that money comes from the Victorian government. You know, the governments do put in some money now, but I'm hoping the grass roots part of it gets a bit more.

Q. Karrie, you didn't get to defend your title when you won in Phoenix in '09; right?
KARRIE WEBB: Right. Right. Yeah.

Q. Is there at least good vibes in returning to the area? Can you talk about coming back here?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. I've always enjoyed playing Phoenix. You know, obviously I won a few years ago, but I also won here in either '99 or 2000. So I've played well in the desert -- and I think it was '99.
And you know, I enjoy coming out here. I think it's a beautiful time of the year to be out here. It's generally not too cold and just a perfect temperature really. So you know, I enjoy us being out here and hope that we continue to be out here for years to come.

Q. Couple questions: One, with the pro football players on strike and locked out, can you talk about the unity of the LPGA to come together for this charity event, to give all the money away to charity would be the first question. And also, I'm here to do a story on Shirley Spork and the founders. What do the founders of the LPGA mean to you and your game now?
KARRIE WEBB: Okay. I think I'll start with the founders question first. You know, I don't -- I fortunately have been around, again, the veteran player, but long enough where I've met more of the founders than some of the young girls have, because a few of them have passed away in the past five or so years.
So you know, I've always enjoyed -- you know, I'm good friends with Louise Suggs and keep in contact with her during the year, and I've always loved hearing their stories. You know, because I can't even imagine doing what they did, you know, and if they didn't do what they did for us, we wouldn't be here. We wouldn't have the opportunity, to answer your second question, to play for charity and to honor them and to put the money toward the future of women's golf.
So you know, I really hope the young players get the opportunity to meet Shirley, Louise Suggs and Marilynn Smith who are here this week. And you know, I think it's hard when, you know, their grandparents probably aren't as old as our founders, but you know, just to sit down and talk to them and to listen to some of their stories, because really, you can't believe what they did and were able to play good golf as well.
So you know, and any of the other -- all the Hall-of-Famers, like Kathy Whitworth or any of those ladies that are here this week, you know, I would love for some of the young players to sit down and talk with them, because you really do appreciate them, where we've come from.
And I think sometimes, you know, even our tour gets away from that. You know, you get in the now and the future rather than, hey, we're pretty lucky to be where we're at. Yeah, at times it's tough, but you know, we need to dig our heels in like they did 60 years ago.

Q. As a new member of the board now, do you feel like you have a certain mandate or what's the priority for you and the future of the Tour?
KARRIE WEBB: I'm sort of feeling my way in. My first official board meeting is next Monday. So I haven't -- you know, I'm sort of getting to know the way everything works.
I think, you know, even -- I keep talking about how old I am, but being out here for 15 years, you think you know how things are done, but I think when you actually sit on the other side of it, I think -- you know, I'm really learning a lot already.
So you know, obviously I'd like to see the Tour grow and I'd like to see it grow to where we're playing a lot more events in the U. S. You know, and I'd like an even balance in that, but I think you could talk to the 144 players that are here and I think just about every one would say that, too.
You know, I don't think it's as easy as saying that that's what we want to achieve. It's a tough marketplace out there, and that's the part that I'm learning, you know, when you're on the other side of it.

Q. Could you just give a quick assessment of where you think the Tour is at right now? Is this in any way a pivotal year or an important year?
KARRIE WEBB: I think last year was a very important year, and I think Mike did a really good job in his first year.
I think this year and maybe next year are years where, you know, he can get down to the business of selling us rather than, you know, trying to, you know, stabilize the ship and try and find a direction of where we're headed. I think now we sort of have that direction, and now it's to try and put that plan into place.
And you know, I don't think, you know, it's all out on this year, but I think the next two years are quite important. So I actually am quite excited to be on the board at this time and for the LPGA. I think rather than being the player that hears things secondhand, you know, and then you know, where they turn into rumors and speculation, you know, I'll sort of have a good understanding about where we really are.

Q. You mentioned Louise, and I'm just curious if there is a great story that you have about Louise or any advice, or any of the founders in general, but since she's fairly hilarious.
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. I actually have a couple of great saved voice mail messages on my home. I want to erase them, and actually I nearly erased them the other day and I almost started crying.
But the best story, I may have told it before, but was my rookie year, and I won the Sprint Title Holders in Daytona Beach, and at that time, besides the U. S. Open, that was our biggest purse, and I won 180,000.
And it wasn't the first time I met Louise, but it was really the first time I'd ever -- I'd met her, but this was the first time I'd really ever had a conversation with her. And you know, she came up and she congratulated me, and she said, you just won more money than I won in all the years and all the wins that I had, times 10, you know.
And you know, I didn't really know what to say, because you know, if you don't know Louise, she can be quite abrupt in what she says to you, and I didn't want to insult her by saying anything wrong.
But as I've gotten to know her, the voice mail messages I have at home, like even after I won Singapore, she's like, great going. It was great to watch. You played great and you're almost catching up to me in wins. You might catch me one day.
So you know, I have to find a way of keeping those messages somehow down the road.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? Thank you.
KARRIE WEBB: Okay. Thanks.

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