ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
The Victoria Golf Club
Final-Round Notes and Interviews
February 16, 2014
Karrie Webb gave her fellow Aussies something to cheer about during Sunday’s final round of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian as she overcome a 5-stroke deficit to claim her 40th career LPGA Tour victory. Despite the significant ground to overcome, Webb took full advantage of the windy conditions at The Victoria Golf Club to fire a 4-under 68 that included six birdies and two bogeys.
”I feel very fortunate to have won today but I liked my chances at the start of the day because of the wind picking up,” said Webb. “If we had another day like we had the first three days, I probably was a little too far back to have a chance, so I was thankful for the weather changing and I played as good as I have in a very long time.”
It was a jam-packed leaderboard throughout Sunday’s final round that at one point saw four different players tied for the lead.
Prior to the leaders beginning their final rounds, Webb would be the first to strike recording back-to-back birdies at the opening two holes. Giving third-round co-leaders Chella Choi and amateur Minjee Lee something to think about, Choi quickly faltered with a double-bogey at the par-4 second.
“Today there was a lot of wind,” said Choi. “On the second I went out of bounds on the right hand side and that was a really big problem for me.”
With several players in contention for the win, it wasn’t until a birdie at the par-4 11th that Webb discovered she was tied for the lead.
“I was obviously pumped up that I made the putt but then of course I made that to tie for the lead,” said Webb. “I had a little bit of trouble calming myself down on the next hole, I didn't hit a very good tee shot, but I ended up making a really good par, so that sort of settled me down. It was a little up and down coming in, but the conditions were so difficult that it was hard to hit some quality shots and know exactly where the wind was coming from.”
Webb remained atop the leaderboard until an untimely bogey at the par-3 16th, dropped her into a tie with Choi at 11-under-par. After a par on the 17th, Webb hit her drive on the par-5 18th down the middle and got on the green in two leaving herself with a 35-foot eagle putt.
Despite missing the eagle attempt, Webb tapped-in her birdie putt moving her to 12-under-par for the tournament applying the pressure to Choi. Choi remained one behind Webb at 11-under-par requiring her to birdie the final hole to force a playoff.
In search of her first-career LPGA Tour victory, Choi’s second shot found the left rough leaving her with a difficult up-and-down for birdie. Choi, who lost in a playoff at the 2012 Manulife LPGA Financial Classic, calmly knocked her chip to within 7-feet but missed the birdie putt leaving Webb with her 40th career LPGA Tour victory.
So close… Chella Choi has had her first LPGA Tour victory slip through her fingertips several times on the LPGA Tour. While the South Koean looked poised to become the first Rolex First-Time Winner of 2014 on Sunday, she would once again fall short.
Choi entered Sunday’s final round tied atop the leaderboard with amateur standout Minjee Lee but a 2-over-par final-round once again left her finishing runner-up.
Despite the disappointment, the bubbly player with a never fading smile remained outside the scoring tent signing autograph after autograph. As Choi made her way down the line of autograph seekers, her father and sister weren’t far behind.
Choi has quickly become one of the top players on the LPGA Tour and while she continues to climb the ranks on the Rolex Rankings, her father and sister remain by her side. While her sister is never hard to spot in the gallery with her bright orange Volvik umbrella, her father walks inside the ropes as he serves as Choi’s caddie.
Despite wanting to retire the father/daughter duo has made a pact to stay together until Choi claims her first LPGA Tour victory. If this week is any indication as things to come for Choi, it won’t be long until she makes her first trip to the winner’s circle.
“I work with my father again (LAUGHS) so it’s 50 percent ok right,” said Choi. “It’s so close, close every tournament so it’s a very good experience for me. My shots and my putting is much better and yesterday 10-under is my best score so it’s a really good memory in here.”
Race to the CME Globe… The Race to the CME Globe kicked-off at the season-opening Pure-Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic and continued at this week’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. With a win in the Bahamas, Jessica Korda jumped-out to the quick lead with 500 points.
While Karrie Webb claimed her 40th career LPGA Tour victory this week and earned 500 points, Korda remains atop the standings in the Race to the CME Globe with 552 points.
Eagles for a cause: Four total eagles were made during Sunday’s final-round of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Karrie Webb (-13) on par-5 18th, Karine Icher (-10) on par-4 1st, Valentine Derrey (-1) on par-4 1st, and Su-Hyun Oh (-1) on par-5 18th. With three eagles today, it brings a total of $31,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project® during the first Wounded Warrior Project® Weekend of the year.
Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends is a season-long charity program that will be tied into the Race to the CME Globe. Each Saturday and Sunday at LPGA tournaments, CME Group will donate $1,000 to Wounded Warrior Project® for each eagle that is recorded. This amount will increase to $5,000 for each eagle during the weekend of the CME Group Tour Championship and a formal check will be presented to the Wounded Warrior Project® during the trophy ceremony at the CME Group Tour Championship. To get involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.
THE MODERATOR: What a difference, not a day makes; what a difference a week makes?
KARRIE WEBB: LAUG Actually, I forgot to mention on the 18th, but a couple of years ago Stacy Keating signed for a wrong score at the British Open and obviously she was devastated and then she went and won the next two weeks that she played. She text me last week and said, remember what happened to me after I got DQ'd. I actually thought about that when I was walking up 18, that that might come true for me as well. Definitely a different feeling than last week.
THE MODERATOR: You don't hear this, but it's so evident to us that when the young players come in and they ask who did you look up to, who do you still look up to, it's always you. I know that mantel you feel quite heavily but what a thrill that these girls are out here and still have the experience to play alongside you.
KARRIE WEBB: Thank you Kathie. It's been nearly 20 years, so it's been a wonderful ride and it's continuing to be that as well. I feel very fortunate to have won today But I liked my chances at the start of the day because of the wind picking up. If we had another day like we had the first three days, I probably was a little too far back to have a chance, so I was thankful for the weather changing and I played as good as I have in a very long time.
Q. Karrie, you've just touched on this but I'm just wondering whether what happened last week sort of had something to do with the fact that you've won today in the sense, that you were obviously annoyed with yourself and the world, did it, in a funny sort of way, help you?
KARRIE WEBB: I'm not sure. I mean, it wasn't something that was easy to shake off and still isn't because it's been very hard for me to walk out of the score tent this week until they've checked my score card about four times LAUG.
It's amazing what happens, what a difference a week makes. Obviously this time last week I wouldn't be expecting to be sitting here, so I'm glad things changed around quickly for me.
Q. I know you said early in the week that you felt a little underdone coming in to the tournament because you didn't get as much golf as you had expected last week. Did you feel that you had that final round in you; you posted the best score of the day. Did you see that coming?
KARRIE WEBB: I'm not sure if I saw it coming, but sometimes for me the tougher the conditions the better because I have to really get out of my head. I have to not think technically. I think when the conditions are milder you try to be more perfect, I think because the conditions are easy so you should be shooting low scores. When the conditions are tough I think I get out of that mindset and I just feel the shot that I need to. That's what I was doing today.
I realized that early on. I was hitting some quality shots early on and I realized that I'd gotten into that mindset and so I stayed on top of myself to make sure that that's what I did and never tried to hit a shot. I just played the shot that the conditions dictated.
Q. One of the young Australians, MinJee Lee, she obviously was leading coming into today and she had a pretty tough day. She's your scholarship holder, have you managed to see her after her round to see how she felt?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, just briefly. I told her good playing. Conditions like today when you are leading, it's probably tougher than if you're behind because you don't have as much to lose when you're behind and posting a score is always hard for the people behind to not play just to beat that.
She's got more talent in her little finger than I ever did at 17. She should hold her head up high. She's played very well the last two weeks, probably the best out of anyone consistently the last two weeks. She should be really proud of herself. You'll definitely see a lot more of her.
Q. Karrie, that's 40 LPGA wins, which is pretty damn good. But there's a bit of confusion in here about how many career wins you've had, 50 something, but do you know?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, I think I know but I hear so many different numbers that I'm not sure if I've counted correctly LAUG, but I think it's 52. Do you think it's more than that?
Q. On your website it's 51 plus...
KARRIE WEBB: I've heard 55 today before, so I don't know where - but I know that Louise Suggs just gained three more wins from somewhere in history; they'd forgotten to count LAUG. I don't know if mine are getting added up and more are on there or not, but in my count it's 52.
Q. Karrie, the putt you holed on 11, did that give you a sense that you could go on from there and win it or did you realise at that particular point where that puts you relative to everyone else?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, before I putted, I didn't realize that there was a leaderboard over there, which was good because that meant I was obviously involved in my putt. So I wasn't aware of what was leading. The last time I'd seen a leader board the leaders had only played the first hole and they both birdied and they were 14-under, so when I made that putt, then when I walked back to the back of the green and I saw the leader board and I realized that now I was tied for the lead. So I actually had trouble calming myself down then. I was obviously pumped up that I made the putt but then of course I made that to tie for the lead. I had a little bit of trouble calming myself down on the next hole, I didn't hit a very good tee shot, but I ended up making a really good par, so that sort of settled me down. It was a little up and down coming in, but the conditions were so difficult that it was hard to hit some quality shots and know exactly where the wind was coming from.
Yes certainly that really got me pumped up and I knew then that I had a good chance.
Q. Coming in did you have a number in your head, that if you got to 12 that that was going to be a good number?
KARRIE WEBB: I was trying not to do that because at the start of the day you just need to go as low as you can and I was trying not to set a score. A couple of times I said I needed to get to probably 12 but again, I tried to put that out of my mind and just hit shots and see what I came up with at the end of the day.
Q. Have you got another Major in you?
KARRIE WEBB: Well I hope so. If I can do the mental job that I did especially today, I think I did a pretty good job all week and especially the weekend, if I maintain that standard then I think I can.
Q. What was going on out there today?
CHELLA CHOI: Today there was a lot of wind. On the second I went out of bounds on the right hand side and that was a really big problem for me.
It was a hard game today. I don’t like that part. Karrie played so good today.
Q. Not a bad finish though – runner up – not the outcome you wanted but two more tournaments in a row – are you looking forward to those?
CHELLA CHOI: I work with my father again (LAUGHS) so it’s 50% ok right? It’s so close, close every tournament so it’s a very good experience for me. My shots and my putting is much better and yesterday 10-under is my best score so it’s a really good memory in here.
Q. How nice is it to know though that no matter what you have your Dad and your sister out there with you?
CHELLA CHOI: I’ll try again next week!