ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open Wednesday Notes and Interviews

Photo Credit: Lucas Dawson/Getty Images

Jessica Korda of the United States holds the trophy after winning the 2012 Women's Australia Open during day four of the 2012 Women's Australian Open at Royal Melbourne Golf.

ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
The Victoria Golf Club
Victoria, Australia
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews
February 12, 2014

Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Lydia Ko, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Karrie Webb, Rolex Rankings No. 8

This week the LPGA Tour heads to “The Land Down Under” for the third playing of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. The second event on the 2014 LPGA schedule will feature a field of 156 players competing for a $1.2 million purse at The Victoria Golf Club in Victoria, Australia.

After claiming her second-career LPGA Tour victory at the season-opening Pure-Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, the red-hot Jessica Korda will return to Australia where she became a Rolex First-Time Winner in 2012. Korda showed nerves of steel and claimed her first-career LPGA Tour victory in dramatic fashion, sinking a 25-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a six-player playoff.

Been there, done that… Stacy Lewis is no stranger to holding the No. 1 position in the Rolex Rankings but after quickly losing the top ranking last year, she declared on Wednesday, she wants it back.

The former University of Arkansas Razorback made an immediate impact in the 2013 season. She claimed two victories in the span of four events and bypassed Yani Tseng for the much sought after top spot in the Rolex Rankings. While the stent at the top was short-lived for Lewis, she has her sights set on stealing the No. 1 rankings again this season.

“Yeah, I got to No. 1 so quick - so early in the year last year I think it kind of surprised me,” said Lewis. “It was a world wind four weeks.  It was pretty crazy.  So I mean, I really want to get back there so I can actually enjoy it a little bit more now.  I know what to expect.  I know kind of what goes along with being No. 1. I certainly don't feel like I lost it.  I played - last year was probably one of my most consistent years I've ever had.  So I don't feel like I'm doing anything wrong.  I've just got to keep chipping away at Inbee and Suzann and I'll get there.”

Lewis might have a significant dent to overcome if she wants to take over the No. 1 ranking but she is up for the challenge. While some people like to be the underdog, Lewis wants to be the one everyone is chasing.

“I like being the person with the target on my back,” said Lewis. “I like kind of setting the bar for people and showing them what it takes.  I want to raise the bar really.  I want to keep playing better and better.  What Inbee did last year, it made me start working harder, that's for sure.”

Sweet 16… Lydia Ko might not be your typical 16-year-old but the two-time LPGA Tour winner has the same dream as most other teenagers, to get her driver’s license.

While Ko has proven her talent on the golf course, she hasn’t been able to do the same behind the wheel of a car. In fact, Ko admitted her driving skills are so bad that her mother immediately put her foot down against the idea of driving a car.
 
“I want to drive but my mom says - I don't think she'll let me,” said Ko. “I've kind of driven a golf cart before and that didn't go well.  Hopefully I'll get my license.  I think I'll be a crazy driver for now.  I want to learn in the States, driving in the States because that will be where I'll spend most of my time.  It's on the other seat, on the other side than here and New Zealand. I think the roads there are a little wider, in the States as well, so it gives me a little more room for mistakes LAUG.”

Despite being unable to get a driver’s license Ko has a great deal to look forward to this season. Ko began her rookie season with a tie for seventh finish in the Bahamas but the highlight so far has been receiving her 2014 LPGA player credential.

“I think there was much more pressure in the Bahamas as it was my first,” said Ko. “You can never go back to the first; it's going to be your number one.  Yeah, it is a bit different but I think just knowing that you've become an LPGA Tour player and given one of those credentials, it was really cool.  I didn't imagine myself to be in this position at this time.”

It all happened for a reason… Last week playing in front of her home country at the Australian Ladies Masters Karrie Webb was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. After firing a 1-over 74 in the second round the Aussie rushed signing her scorecard thinking she missed the cut.

“It was definitely a bit of a shock, even the way I played for the first two rounds,” said Webb. “Thinking that I'd miss the cut so I was very careless in the score tent; was already planning what I was going to do for the weekend, where I was going to practice, that sort of thing.  So, just a little careless and not taking the usual time to do my card like I normally would.”

Despite being disqualified, Webb found silver lining in the unfortunate situation and the LPGA Tour veteran was able to spend quality time with her family.

“Yeah, I mean, hindsight is just a wonderful thing, isn't it,” said Webb. “You can say if I had of done this or if I had of done that, so yeah, I was quite upset with myself and disappointed.   I had a lot of family down and feel like I let them down a bit but there's always a silver lining and I got to spend a lot more time with my family - and it's the last couple of days that I see them before I head back overseas - so it was good to be able to do that, but I would have also liked to have played a little bit.”

This week Webb will have another opportunity to compete in Australia. With 39 career victories already under her belt, this week’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open marks the start of Webb’s 2014 campaign.

Quotable… “No, it's actually been - I don't know if this table's wood - but knock on wood, it's been great,” said Stacy Lewis of the condition of her back. “I think that's part of the working out, is to keep it healthy, keep it in shape and if I keep everything around my back strong it doesn't put any stress there.” 

Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3

THE MODERATOR: Stacy, thank you for coming in.  You had a fantastic year last year and started 2014 very well in the Bahamas.  Last time you were in the Melbourne it was a second place finish as well.  How are you feeling going into this week?
STACY LEWIS:  You know, I'm excited.  I'm excited to get playing.  This whole off season I've just wanted to play really because my game's in such a good place that I just need to get out on the course and start hitting some shots.

We had two weeks off, which was nice to kind of evaluate some things and rework on some things a little bit, but you know, I'm ready to go.

THE MODERATOR:  You've had some time out on the course now, what do you think about Victoria?
STACY LEWIS: It's a really good course.  It's really similar style-wise to Royal Melbourne.  This one I think you've got to be really - it's a lot of placement golf, not so much off the tees but a lot into the greens, it's just hitting it into the right spots.  Being below the hole is going to be key this week - and staying out of the bunkers LAUG.  The bunkers I think are the worst and the hardest part of this golf course. 

So for me it's just going to be playing smart golf and hopefully making a few putts here and there.

THE MODERATOR: What's been the secret to your consistency, last year and then obviously the start of this year as well?
STACY LEWIS:  You know, I think I've been driving the ball a lot better over the last year and I think that's been really key.  But then it's just getting there, it's getting there and being comfortable, seeing your name on the leader board, having the lead, it's being comfortable there and knowing that you belong there.  I think that's a lot of it. 

My game has just gotten really consistent on all levels and it's gotten me to where I am.

Q.  Stacy, do you look at this course and think that's a course I can score well on?  Do you think it suits your game?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think it does.  I mean, it's a hard course, it's not easy.  I don't think anybody's going to go crazy low on it, especially if it stays hot and gets firmer and faster throughout the week.  I think any golf course where you have to think your way around is to my advantage.  I like that.  I think you're going to have to play away from the hole sometimes and maybe have a 10 footer instead of going right at it, especially even chip shots you might have to.

So it's playing smart and I think that fits me pretty well.

Q.  Is smart slightly defensive if you were trying to explain it to the general public?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it's just taking the big number out of play; that's really what it is.  I think the person that minimises making big numbers this week is the one that's going to be there at the end.

Q. When you think back to a couple of years ago, what are your memories of Melbourne? Does that leave a sort of sour taste in your mouth or how do you remember Melbourne?
STACY LEWIS: No, I mean I think I shot like 67 on Sunday so I left there playing well.  It was one of my favourite golf courses I ever played.  So I was kind of hoping we'd go back there again, but maybe sometime soon we will LAUG.

No, I loved it.  It's got a little links golf feel to it, with the sand base.  I like links golf, I've played well on it.  I don't know, it's a place I'm comfortable with.

Q.  You made it to World No. 1, it only lasted a few weeks, has that really sort of stoked the fire to get back there?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I got to No. 1 so quick - so early in the year last year I think it kind of surprised me.  It was a world wind four weeks.  It was pretty crazy.  So I mean, I really want to get back there so I can actually enjoy it a little bit more now.  I know what to expect.  I know kind of what goes along with being No. 1.

I certainly don't feel like I lost it.  I played - last year was probably one of my most consistent years I've ever had.  So I don't feel like I'm doing anything wrong.  I've just got to keep chipping away at Inbee and Suzann and I'll get there.

Q. From what you've seen of the golf course, you said that it suits your game, who else out of the field do you think that it particularly suits?
STACY LEWIS:  I mean I don't know any one player but I think anybody with length, it's definitely an advantage.  The par 5s, all but one is reachable, all but 17.  All the rest of them are reachable for me and people can hit it passed me and they can get there with some irons.  So I think length is definitely an advantage, especially with the greens getting firmer.

But again, it's the person that plays the smartest and doesn't make the big numbers.

Q.  I just wanted to go back to the No. 1 thing, if you won this week would you get to No. 1 or would you be fairly close, do you know?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know, I don't think I would get there, just because Inbee and Suzann are a pretty good ahead of me right now but I mean, I think if I won any time in the next three weeks and played well, I think I could get there before we get back to the US. 
           
So it's kind of a little bit of a goal, to chip away at that before we get back in the States.

Q.  Also you were talking about the length of the holes.  What sort of clubs are you hitting say on the par 4s?  Say, for instance, 10 and 11?
STACY LEWIS:  10 I had a 6-iron yesterday and 8-iron today.  11's pretty short.  11 you've got to just get your drive down there around the corner.  That's one of the tee shots you have to hit pretty well.

A lot of the par 4s you're not hitting any really long irons into.  But the greens are just deceptively big, because they all seem to kind of run off, so the greens are really a lot smaller than they look, so you just have to hit it to the right places.

Q.  What was special about No. 1 - aside from the obvious - why is it so appealing to you?
STACY LEWIS: I like being the person with the target on my back.  I like kind of setting the bar for people and showing them what it takes.  I want to raise the bar really.  I want to keep playing better and better.  What Inbee did last year, it made me start working harder, that's for sure.

I think we can make each other better and we can get women's golf more on the map and make people realize that we're actually some pretty good golfers.

Q.  Not that you weren't confident when you were at Royal Melbourne a couple of years ago, but you seem like you're really confident with how your game sits right now.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think I've got more comfortable just being in the role I'm at, over the last couple of years.  It's been almost two years since I became the top American and I think I've kind of grown into that role more and got more comfortable there, gotten more comfortable dealing with fans, being that person, being in the position, comfortable with you guys. 

I don't know, just kind of grown up a little bit I guess since a couple of years ago.

Q.  I saw in your bio that you like working out.  Is that something that the new generation golfers really have to do these days, particularly the females?  Is that something that's changed over the last few years?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I'd say - I started working with my trainer about four years ago and it's completely changed my game.  I've increased distance, I feel a lot better, I hit the ball better.  Tiger ultimately, he was the one that kind of got everybody going on it but now you go to a hotel and golfers are in the gym all day long LAUG

I work out six days a week, it's usually an hour and 15, hour and a half and it's just - to me it's as important as hitting balls before my round or putting, it's just kind of become part of my routine.

Q.  The surgery and the treatment that you had on your back is well documented, do you ever have any troubles from that now? 
STACY LEWIS: No, it's actually been - I don't know if this table's wood - but knock on wood, it's been great.  I think that's part of the working out, is to keep it healthy, keep it in shape and if I keep everything around my back strong it doesn't put any stress there. 

So I really just try to take care of myself and know when to stop hitting balls and when I need the day off here and there.  I've just been trying to be really smart about it.

Q.  Do you do Pilates and Yoga and things like that or mediation or anything?
STACY LEWIS: Not really, no, it's more just working with my trainer.  We do a lot of lifting some pretty heavy weights and throwing medicine balls.  It's pretty fun.  It all revolves around my golf game and kind of what we're working on with my golf swing.  We're just trying to train the muscles and make the swing easier.

 

Lydia Ko, Rolex Rankings No. 4

THE MODERATOR:  Lydia, thank you for coming in.  What a difference a year makes. 
LYDIA KO: Yeah, a lot of things have happened since Royal Canberra.  I'm just super excited to be back.

THE MODERATOR: Have you played around Victoria very much?
LYDIA KO:   I played here a couple of years ago for the Australian Amateur but the course is definitely playing much different, especially in length.  So yeah, it's definitely different but I had a couple of rounds here, that's what practice rounds are for, you kind of get used to the course.

THE MODERATOR: What are your expectations for this week?
LYDIA KO:   I played really well at the New Zealand Open and I played well in Bahamas, so hopefully that will build on my confidence.  This course to me, I think you've got to drive it well to score well and obviously you've got to get the putts rolling as well, but just playing consistently and I think that will bring good results.

Q.  Lydia, you've got a new coach, how has that transition been?
LYDIA KO: Yeah playing well definitely helps with that transition and I've been getting much more confidence.  If I didn't play as good I don't think I would be as confident in the swing and in the clubs, but definitely playing well is where you need to be. 

The club feels great in my hand and the swing part, we’re not making huge changes, so it's' not like I've got a whole new swing, it's little things.

Q.  Lydia, I just wanted to ask about the change from your coach to the new one?
LYDIA KO:   Yeah, my new coach's name is Sean Hogan, he's at the Leadbetter Academy.  So I see him when I go to Orlando.   Obviously it was hard, it was a shame, splitting with Guy and there was a lot of media related stuff on it which I didn't even know that it would make headlines. It was totally kind of a shock that it was such big news.

I've been liking what we've been doing with Sean. Dave Leadbetter, he's been seeing my swing as well, so it's been working good so far.

THE MODERATOR: Is it a shock how much attention everything that you do now is causing, you said that it was a surprise that when you changed your coach it was such big news?
LYDIA KO:  Yeah, I think every little thing, especially the more famous you get, everything you say, everything you do, I think it's going to make media and make news, especially with the coach thing, I never even imagined that it would make headlines and go all over the world LAUG.

It's sad that I had to split with Guy but I had to do what was best for me in my circumstance.

Q.  Lydia, I know it's going over old ground, but exactly why did you split with your first coach, Guy?
LYDIA KO:   All these questions of coach LAUG.  I was going to play most of my time over in the States and, you know, Orlando is in the States and New Zealand is way too far to come back and see him in that week off.  I don't like my coach being there at the tournament, so bringing him at a tournament wasn't what I like to do and kind of having him over for two or three days in the off week, it didn’t work out.  In the off week you want some rest and you kind of want to chill out as well.  So I thought it would be a good idea to find a coach based in the States.

Q.  Lydia, obviously you've played in LPGA events before, but this is only your second event as a professional, how has that transition been and do you feel any added pressure?
LYDIA KO:  I think there was much more pressure in the Bahamas as it was my first.  You can never go back to the first; it's going to be your number one.  Yeah, it is a bit different but I think just knowing that you've become and LPGA tour player and given one of those credentials, it was really cool.  I didn't imagine myself to be in this position at this time.

Q.  I saw that you have your mom out here with you, is she travelling with you all year long?
LYDIA KO:   Yeah, she's pretty much my travel buddy.  My aunt's out here this week as well.  She kind of got me started to play golf, so it's really cool to have her here.  Sometimes my sister might come out and my Dad might come out as well.  But I definitely know my Mum's going to be there pretty much every tournament.

Q.  Now that you're a pro, I wondered if have thought about prize money? Are you having driving lessons or do you have your licence, would you buy a car?  Are there any things that you've got in mind?
LYDIA KO:   I want to drive but my mom says - I don't think she'll let me.  I've kind of driven a golf cart before and that didn't go well.  Hopefully I'll get my license.  I think I'll be a crazy driver for now.  I want to learn in the States, driving in the States because that will be where I'll spend most of my time.  It's on the other seat, on the other side than here and New Zealand. I think the roads there are a little wider, in the States as well, so it gives me a little more room for mistakes LAUG.

Q.  What age are you allowed to drive a golf cart or do you actually have to have a licence?  How does that work?
LYDIA KO:   Well my Dad kind of said you should try and then I tried but it's still going downhill, it kind of give me the creeps.

KATHIE SHEARER: It's much younger in the States I believe to get your driver's licence than it is here.
LYDIA KO:   I think 16 in New Zealand, 16 in the States.

Q.  Lydia, you're good mates with Israel Dagg, right?
LYDIA KO:  Yeah, he came out to watch me play at the New Zealand Open and I've seen him a couple of times.

Q. You know what the All Blacks mean to everyone, how do you rationalise in your head that you are to New Zealand what the All Blacks are?
LYDIA KO: Definitely I think in New Zealand they would know the All Blacks much better than me.  New Zealand, the highest sport is I think rugby, so it's quite hard to beat.  I've even got All Blacks on my wedges; so it's got them on there.  I think they're a great team.  They won the World Cup, they didn't lose a game last year.  They're pretty amazing and to know an All Black player is quite cool.

Q.  Did you set yourself any particular targets for this particular season?
LYDIA KO: I think it will be a different target every week, but just playing consistently and consistently well I think is very important and also managing myself, not overdoing it.  That's where I guess burn out gets players and golf you want to play for the long run and to not overdo it I think is very important.

Q.  Now that you've been out on the course and probably seen the other players practising, have you got anyone in your mind of the players to beat this week?
LYDIA KO:   Everybody, you kind of never know until that last round.  Everybody's out here to win, everybody's trying their best.  But like they say, Suzann and Stacy, they're top three in the world, and yeah, they're going to be the players to beat but I'm not playing down of any other player here, everybody's got a chance to win.

 

Karrie Webb, Rolex Rankings No. 8

THE MODERATOR:   Thank you Karrie for coming in.  I suppose we'll get the question out right away, last week, a bit of a mush there but gave you plenty of time to practice.
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, a little bit of practice.  It was definitely a bit of a shock, even the way I played for the first two rounds.  Thinking that I'd miss the cut so I was very careless in the score tent; was already planning what I was going to do for the weekend, where I was going to practice, that sort of thing.  So, just a little careless and not taking the usual time to do my card like I normally would.

THE MODERATOR: What are your thoughts on this course, you've been around this morning?  A lot of the players have come in and said that they think the driving is key around here, is that what you think?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I think definitely driving is key around here, but I think, depending on if the greens get any faster or any firmer, I think your shot into the green's going to be important because I think if the greens get faster you're probably not going to want to be above think hole on some of the holes.  So you don't really have to think about where you place the ball to give yourself the best opportunity to putt.

THE MODERATOR: Just before I open it to the floor, I read an article in which you were saying that golf needs more funding and in the back we have a couple of juniors that are playing here. Can you just elaborate a little bit on that, what would happen, how the juniors need to get started and what kind of funding you were talking about?
KARRIE WEBB:  I was just in an Olympic meeting and talking to us about the Olympics in 2016, I think when golf was announced in the Olympics, I think all around the world we thought governments would be giving golf more money now, more funding. 

I think with the results, I think we shouldn't be saying the men are doing this and the women are doing this, I think our results should be grouped together because we're going to be a golf team as part of the Australian team at the Olympics.

If I were to win a medal at the Olympics I think it would impact funding for Golf Australia across the board, it wouldn't just impact women's golf.  I'm not sure if the Government's waiting to see if we produce any medals but I think what  Adam Scott did last year reminded me a lot of what Greg Norman was doing when I was a little kid. 

I don't think it necessarily means that young girls aren't inspired by a male, because that's what got me into golf and wanting to be a professional golfer, you know, Greg Norman was the best thing on the planet when I was a young kid and that inspired me to want to keep at the game and want to work at the game.

So I think that's why Adam Scott's success should be looked at as a whole and not just that's what the men are producing and this is what the women are producing.  I think some funding obviously can go to the women. 

I know Golf Australia has changed their system since I've been involved and I think they're doing a great job, but I think if they had the money, that money should be spent on younger kids.  I think there's a gap between junior golf and State golf and then to the elite.  I think there needs to be something in the middle where girls can aim.  Once they've represented their State it's a big jump to representing your country and there's nothing in the middle.  

I think we need something in the middle but we also need someone out there identifying talent, kids that are 10, 11, 12 years old that might play golf as a secondary sport and are really good at netball or something but to encourage them to take the golf path rather than the netball path. 

It all takes money.  We've been very lucky with different benefactors and obviously the funding that we're getting but I'd really like to see more and I'd like to see more go to women's golf.

Q.  Karrie, do you think there's a direct connection between the ideal funding and a lack of top Australian players in the women's game at the moment?
KARRIE WEBB: Not necessarily I guess.  I think there is a difference between men and women as far as girls staying involved in sport in general.  I think they get to a certain age and if they're not encouraged the right way, they don't stay in sport whereas for most boys growing up, being involved in a sport is just a pre-requisite to being a boy and it's not necessarily that for a girl.

I think that's where it needs to be looked at, trying to keep girls in sport.  I did a junior clinic up in Townsville in January and I also saw a junior camp at another course in Townsville, and there were more girls there than boys and I've never seen them before.  It's really encouraging but you need them to stay in the game, even if they don't play professionally, even Golf Australia is lacking in funding; we just don't have members in clubs.

So you want girls and boys to continue playing golf, even if they don't make it a career, that they're members of clubs and paying their dues and all of that stuff.  I think that's something that needs to be concentrated on.

Q.  What about at the top level of the game once you've stayed in it and you've made it to that grade, is there more that the governing body could be doing as far as helping people reach the higher echelons of the game and stay there?
KARRIE WEBB:      I think they are doing a really good job.  I think there are different ways to handle women and men and different ways of encouraging players to stay in the game.  What I'm saying too, they're going to find athletes at a younger age, like a netball star that plays golf just on the weekends.  If we had funding, to have someone out there, you know, North Queensland Golf Association tells golf Queensland that there's this young kid up here, come and take a look. 

You try and encourage that child to stay in golf or take golf as number one and not netball or cricket, or what have you.  I think that's where you get the athletes at a younger age and keep them in golf and then that direction.

Q.  Just on the card issue from last weekend, such an experienced player, can you put it out of your mind straight away or do you wake up a couple of nights later and think how did I do that?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I mean, hindsight is just a wonderful thing, isn't it?  You can say if I had of done this or if I had of done that, so yeah, I was quite upset with myself and disappointed.   I had a lot of family down and feel like I let them down a bit but there's always a silver lining and I got to spend a lot more time with my family - and it's the last couple of days that I see them before I head back overseas - so it was good to be able to do that, but I would have also liked to have played a little bit.

Q.  Did it dent your confidence on the course?
KARRIE WEBB:  I don't think so.  I probably feel a little more under done than I would have if I'd play four rounds last week, but that's just the way it is. My preparation this week has gone quite well, so I feel quite comfortable around here.  If I can just keep that sort of level up that I've had the last two days it should feel pretty good out there.

Q.  You said that you felt a little bit shocked about the way that you played, how have you evaluated that?  What have put that down to, anything in particular?
KARRIE WEBB: It was just a bit scratchy from tee to green; nothing was really great.  But I did get a chance to probably do some practice that if I was still playing a tournament I might not have worked on those things.  I've tried to nail those things down since Sunday, you know, those are feeling pretty good. It's just once the gun goes off it's whether they still feel as good as they have in practice.

Q.  Just on the Olympics, how big a focus will it be to you and is it too early, is there any kind of buzz with the other players, are people talking about the Olympics?  Is it going to be a big deal for golfers?
KARRIE WEBB: I think it will be a big deal.  It's a big deal for me.  I've always been a sports nut and I've always loved the Olympics.  So it's not ever something that I ever thought that I'd be a part of and to have the opportunity to is really exciting in itself. 

We just had this Olympic briefing and I think everyone in the room walked out going I want to make the Olympic team. I think from the women's side of the game, I don't hear anyone not wanting to play.  Even though it's two and a half years away and you can't really think about it day to day at the moment, I think it's in the back of everyone's mind.

Q.  I guess Karrie, what you were talking about before, the future of the game and from a global perspective as someone who is passionate about golf having a bright future; we had Lydia Ko in here before, it must be good to see her and the next generation coming through and a strong future globally for the game as well?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah it is.  I think there's been a handful of young girls ready at a very young age in the last couple of years, like Lexi Thompson was the same, Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel, they were all under 18 when they turned professional.

I think it's definitely great for the game.   It's very exciting, to think that someone of that age is ready to play at the elite level of golf is really impressive to me because I wasn't anywhere near that at 15 years of age. 

Too, I think it's important for the young girls in the back to note that it's still a one percentile of female golfers are ready - probably not even one per cent - are ready to play at an elite level at that age and I talk to a lot of the young girls that win my scholarship and come to the US Open, that you don't have to be ready at 17, you can be ready at 20, you can be ready at 22, 23, because you can play golf into your forties and play it at an elite level.

I think there's a danger there with some young girls either think well I'm never going to be good enough because I'm 16, Lydia Ko's 16 and I'm not as good as her and I'll never be a professional, and give the game away or turn pro too early and they're not ready, then they struggle for a few years and then financially it's a struggle and then they give up the game as well. 

I think that's the guidance that girls need over the guys, because there's not a lot of guys ready to play men's golf at 16 and that's where you need to encourage them to really mature at their own pace and there's no pressure.  You're not failing by turning pro at 22. 

I was 20 in Europe in 1995 and I was the youngest on tour and I was 21 the following year in the States and I was the youngest on tour.  Lexi Thompson will be on tour five years when she's 21 LAUG and they'll be saying she's a veteran at 23.   There's no rush.  I think that's an important message: You're ready when you're ready.

Q.  Karrie, I'm from Victoria Golf Club and we run a junior program there.  We have 50 junior girls, 10 of them are eight, but we do not get any funding from Golf Australia.  Do you think we should appeal to Golf Australia for funds?
KARRIE WEBB: LAUG.

Q.  You talk about the future of golf and juniors, we do not push our girls to turn pro or anything like that, just like Kono is one of our girls who you met yesterday.
KARRIE WEBB: I think your program's probably best approaching Golf Victoria to start with, the girls are going to come through that program before they ever reach Golf Australia. But that's really impressive and a very great effort to have 50 girls in your junior program.  I hope it continues for a long time because that just raises the chances of one or two of those girls coming out and being a great player and playing successfully as a professional.

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Korda, Jessica, ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, Lewis, Stacy, Ko, Lydia [+]