Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, Calif. will play host at the fifth-annual Kia Classic, where 144 players will compete for a $1.7 million purse and a $255,000 first place check.
Beatriz Recari will return to the site of her second LPGA Tour victory when she defeated I.K. Kim in dramatic fashion on the second sudden-death playoff hole a year ago. The win sparked the Spaniard’s strong 2013 campaign that included two wins and a spot on the victorious European Solheim Cup Team.
World Golf and LPGA Halls of Famer Karrie Webb will tee it up with week and will be fresh off her 41st career victory and second of the season at the JTBC Founders Cup last week in Phoenix. The win jumped Webb into a tie for 10th on the all-time wins list with Babe Zaharias and pushed her to No. 5 in the Rolex Rankings.
THE SOCIAL SCENE: Beatriz Recari (@beatrizrecari) shared a picture of a very special honor here at the Aviara Golf Club on her Instagram account. Recari was honored for her tournament-winning putt on 18 in last year’s Kia Classic with a plaque on the same hole.
“It was a very nice present or gift that obviously the tournament and Kia did for me remembering last year.“ Recari said. “It was very special, and they showed it to me when I came for media day, so it was definitely a confidence booster and brought a lot of memories. “
The moment when Recari won was one that she will never forget, especially now that there is a permanent memento of the occasion just like those she has seen all over other courses.
“When you play courses and you see the plaques like Fred Couples, like I played Lake Nona, and Couples’ second shot hole on No. 9 and you’re like, oh, you know, I wish I had my own plaque, and now I have my own plaque here at Aviara.”
Karrie Webb could not ignore the special company she joined in the history books with her win last week in Phoenix. The Aussie moved into a tie for 10th on the LPGA Tour’s All-Time Wins List with one of the 13 Founders and LPGA legend Babe Zaharias.
“I think just historically in women’s sport in general, not just in the LPGA history, Babe Zaharias is revered as one of the best female athletes of all time,” said Webb. “So to have my name alongside hers and realize the impact that she had as one of the 13 Founders, impact that she had on our tour, she brought a lot of attention from the outside world to the startup of the LPGA. So it was very special and fitting, I guess, that I got to 41 at the Founders.”
Webb was asked in her Tuesday press conference what her thoughts were on being a big-time closer. Last week marked her third-consecutive come-from-behind victory of at least five shots. Last year at the ShopRite LPGA Classic she had the largest come-back of the season after starting the final round five shots off leader Shanshan Feng. This season, her first win at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, she rallied from six shots back and started five shots off the lead last week in Phoenix.
“I think it’s a good situation to be in because you don’t really have anything to lose, and you can go out there and post a number,” said Webb. “On this past Sunday, I didn’t think 19-under would have been good enough, and I bet if I hadn’t have set 19-under so early, I believe 20, 21-under would have won and there probably would have been two or three players close to that.
Webb said she thinks setting the number early in the day detracted some players from just playing the course at Wildfire Golf Club instead of shooting for a number.
“But I think because I set that number, we were walking down 18 and the leaders were on 10 green. So I set that number so early that instead of just playing the golf course, you start playing to finish at 19-under, or better. And so you know, people, you know, they start trying, I need to get 19 rather than just playing.”
Webb sat almost two hours in the clubhouse before the final group came through and watch five players miss birdie chances on the final hole to force a playoff.
“I have won from leading,” said Webb. “I’ve won wire to wire before. But coming from behind, I mean I feel very fortunate to have won last week. It’s probably one of my luckier wins, just because even when I posted 63, I didn’t think that that was going to be good enough. So I feel very lucky to have won.”
Webb is already looking forward to playing the mentor role when the teams are set for the inaugural International Crown in July. She has already provided some guidance for the top-ranked amateur in the world and fellow Aussie, Minjee Lee. Lee was one of the recipients of Webb’s annual scholarship that awards amateur players a chance to shadow her during the week of the U.S. Women’s Open.
“I’ve already been somewhat of a mentor to Minjee because she won my scholarship last year, and her and another young Australian amateur, Sue Oh came -- part of the scholarship is that the Top 2 girls in Australia come over to the U. S. Open and spend the week with me at the U. S. Open. So we rent a house and they stay with me and everything,” said Webb.
Webb said she already contacted the young players to set up practice rounds next week at the Kraft Nabisco. Lee and Oh were two of nine amateurs invited to play in the first major championship of the season.
“I know Minjee pretty well, I guess, and I’ve already had that sort of mentoring role with her. Her and Sue Oh are both playing next week at Kraft. So I already emailed them about playing practice rounds and stuff like that, so I’m looking forward to it. I think it’ll be a great experience for Minjee because she’s still an amateur, so she’ll be playing against the top players in the world, you know, one on one. So I think that’ll be a great opportunity for her.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“That’s what my caddie and I were talking about today is it all evens out in the wash. I think I stole one last week, but I probably should have finished it off in Singapore.”
- Karrie Webb on bouncing back from her back-nine stumble in Singapore with her 41st career victory last week in Phoenix
An Interview With:KARRIE WEBB
THE MODERATOR: All right. It's my pleasure to welcome in Rolex Rankings now No. 5, Karrie Webb, into the interview room here at the Kia Classic. Karrie, you got a day off yesterday, but you're fresh off your 41st LPGA career tour win. I mean unbelievable. Just tell us how you're feeling coming into this week. It was quite an emotional week for you and something that I know you're holding very special to your heart with that win.
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. I think the focus is definitely becoming ‑‑ I think the concept at the beginning four years ago everyone loved it, but I think it's becoming a very special event, and these days we're not as lucky to have the Founders out on tour as much, so generally that's the one and only time we see them for the year. So it's great to have them out and just what the tournament stands for. It's special to be the champion of that.
THE MODERATOR: Take me through the thought process. I know either maybe in the two hours that you were waiting around for the final player to come through, or when did you think about the whole donation? I know you spoke on behalf of the tour for the Founders film, the documentary that's being filmed, and you said you heard that they didn't have any funding. When did that thought process come in was that kind of you were out on the green and you said, hey, I need to donate some money to get this done?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. It was when I was out on 18 for presentation and I remember last year that Stacy Lewis had donated some money to the LPGA USGA Girls Golf, and obviously that's a big part of the tournament as well, but I was standing there, and I was ‑‑ well, back at the beginning of the week when I realized that the Founders film, the production company didn't have enough funding to, you know, they were sort of just going to make it as, you know, as long as the money was coming in, you know, that sort of surprised me a little bit. So when I was standing there, I thought, well, the Junior Girls Golf got 900,000, so I thought they'd be all right if I only gave them 25 and then gave 25 to the Founders film, which I think, you know, it'll be very special when it gets made.
THE MODERATOR: Yeah. It'll be fantastic. Now, with your win, kind of telling it was kind of appropriate. You moved to tenth on the all‑time winners list with Babe Zaharias. For someone who appreciates the game and the history of the LPGA so much, what did hearing that, I guess, accolade for you? What did that mean to you? Is that kind of a surreal thing now that you see your name against someone like Babe?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. Definitely. I think just historically in women's sport in general, not just in the LPGA history, Babe Zaharias is revered as one of the best female athletes of all time. So to have my name alongside hers and realize the impact that she had as one of the 13 Founders, impact that she had on our tour, you know, she brought a lot of attention from the outside world to the startup of the LPGA, and you know, so it was very special and fitting, I guess, that I got to 41 at the focus.
THE MODERATOR: A lot of players, Twitter kind of blew up. Everybody congratulating you. I know you said thanks and all that kind of stuff but how special for you to play the mentor role as well as the friend role? I know a lot of the young players consider you a tour mate and a friend, but also look up to you with so much respect. How much does that play a special bond that you have with this tour now?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. Well, I think ‑‑ you know, I've grown up out here. I was once a young kid and took things for granted and felt entitled and all of that. So I've ‑‑ you know, whether they realize it or not, I've been in their shoes. But I also had veteran players that made sure that ‑‑ they probably did it a bit more verbally than I do, but they made sure that I appreciated what we had and that I, you know, gave back to the tour.
And I probably don't verbalize that as much, but I feel like just by setting a good example, you know, that if people are watching me and looking up to me, then hopefully as they grow up and mature, that they'll feel the same way I do about this tour.
THE MODERATOR: Did you hear from anybody special, anybody that surprised you? I know you spoke with Louise earlier in the week. Did you get to catch up with her.
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. She'd called me while I was waiting ‑‑ or yeah, just after I'd officially won, and then by the time I got a chance to call her, it was too late East Coast, so I called her yesterday morning. So yeah, it was fun to talk to her.
THE MODERATOR: What did she have to say.
KARRIE WEBB: Well, because when she called on a Friday night, she told me I needed to shoot 64 on Saturday, which I let her down and I only shot 69. So we were talking about how I needed the 63 and not the 64. And she appreciated the shoutout.
THE MODERATOR: Said thank you. Perfect. This week, let's turn to this week now. Tied for sixth here last year. What of your strengths of your game setup on this course and course conditions this week compared to last year?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, the course conditions are a lot better than last year. I think the course is in a lot better shape.
I don't really know what suits my game here. I've never been a huge fan of poa annua greens, but I think I just did a really good mental job here last year, and I've learned to play on poa annua. I wouldn't say I would choose to putt on poa annua greens every week, but I've learned how to play on them. And I did a really good job with that last year when we were here, putted actually quite well. And you know, just managed my game. The ball doesn't go very ‑‑ I mean we just played in the desert where the ball is going further and we come here and now it's going shorter than it should, so it was a bit of an adjustment today.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Karrie.
Q. Congratulations on the win last week.
KARRIE WEBB: Thank you.
Q. So win last week, how important is it to play well here going into the Kraft Nabisco next week?
KARRIE WEBB: It would be nice to play well here. I don't think I'm going to, you know, put too much pressure on myself, which actually might help me to play well. But you know, I'm not going to, you know, have a big grinding week here this week.
You know, it's a tiring golf course to play, so I feel lucky that I know that my game's in a fairly good place, and I don't have to grind too much before next week, so I think I'll just prepare well today and tomorrow and then, you know, hopefully some of that good golf gets me going on Thursday.
THE MODERATOR: Your last major was at Kraft. Has your mentality or approach to majors changed since earlier on in your career or is it something that you said you just mentioned not grinding as much going into it, but your approach change at all slightly.
KARRIE WEBB: Yes and no. You know, I think I have less majors in me now, you know, in my future than I did when I was 20. So obviously I'd like to play well in them and sometimes tend to put a bit too much pressure on myself. And always in the lead up here you're wanting to see some good golf so that you know you don't have to grind the week of a major. But like I said, I feel fortunate that I don't feel like I have to do that this week and sort of save my energy for Thursday to Sunday and hopefully play well again and build on that for next week. But there's not a lot on this golf course that's similar to Kraft, to Mission Hills. So in that respect I'm not really comparing my game for if I'm ready this week versus next week.
Q. I noticed there's a difference on the course between morning play and afternoon play where it can be cooler in the morning, and the course may play softer. In the afternoon it can dry out and play harder. How do you and your caddie make the adjustments for that? You're always wanting to keep it under the pin, but there could be, you know, a five‑yard difference between morning and afternoon?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. I think you even hit it further in the afternoon because that marine layer lifts a little bit, and it warms up.
You know, I don't think there's a science to it. I think it's all about feel for me and my caddie, you know, and that's what we did really well last year was just trust that instead of my 7‑iron carrying 150, it was maybe carrying 140, and to be standing there and looking at a 140 yardage and knowing that you could hit 7 and swing away at it.
So it's challenging because it's obviously, you know, visually you don't feel like you should be hitting that club, but we did a good job last year just trusting that, which is why I had a chance on Sunday to win.
THE MODERATOR: All right. One last one from me. International Crown final event to make individuals for the team is this week. Stacey Keating and Lindsey points wise, very close. So I think Stacey has a chance this week to jump in. Have you talked to them at all or spoken with them or gotten their outlook on how badly they want to make the team or the outlook on if they hopefully can play in that event?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. I don't think Stacey is playing this week.
THE MODERATOR: Oh, okay. I thought she was.
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. Unless she's playing Symetra, but she's not in this field.
I think Sara Jane Smith, if she had a good week. She's at 150, I think. So yeah, so that team isn't set. But you know, it's exciting. I'm looking forward to the event in July.
THE MODERATOR: You're familiar with Minjee a little bit and her game. Playing with such a young player and being teammates with her, how will that go for you guys and trying to be like I said the mentor role but also be her teammate as well?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, I've already been somewhat of a mentor to Minjee because she won my scholarship last year, and her and another young Australian amateur, Sue Oh came ‑‑ part of the scholarship is that the Top 2 girls in Australia come over to the U. S. Open and spend the week with me at the U. S. Open. So we rent a house and they stay with me and everything, so I know Minjee pretty well, I guess, and I've already had that sort of mentoring role with her. Her and Sue Oh are both playing next week at Kraft.
So I already emailed them about playing practice rounds and stuff like that, so I'm looking forward to it. I think it'll be a great experience for Minjee because she's still an amateur, so she'll be playing against the top players in the world, you know, one on one. So I think that'll be a great opportunity for her.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Any other questions?
Q. Yes. Your last three wins on the LPGA tour have all been big comebacks. What are your thoughts on becoming a big‑time closer?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, I think it's a good situation to be in because you don't really have anything to lose, and you can go out there and post a number. And I think like I said, on this past Sunday, I didn't think 19‑under would have been good enough, and I bet if someone ‑‑ if I hadn't have set 19‑under so early, I believe 20, 21‑under would have won and there probably would have been two or three players close to that. But I think because I set that number, we were walking down 18 and the leaders were on 10 green. So I set that number so early that instead of just playing the golf course, you start playing to finish at 19‑under, or better. And so you know, people, you know, they start trying, I need to get 19 rather than just playing.
So you know, it's a good position to be in. I have won from leading. I've won wire to wire before. But coming from behind, like I said ‑‑ I mean I feel very fortunate to have won last week. It's probably one of my luckier wins, just because even when I posted 63, I didn't think that that was going to be good enough. So I feel very lucky to have won. But then, you know, I could have won the tournament before and I was leading, so you know, that's what my caddie and I were talking about today is it all evens out in the wash. You know, I think I stole one last week, but I probably should have finished it off in Singapore.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? All right. Well, thanks for coming in. Best of luck this week.
KARRIE WEBB: All right. Thanks.
An Interview With:BEATRIZ RECARI
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We're here with defending champion, Beatriz Recari, starting the Kia Classic this week. Beatriz, coming into this tournament as defending champion, how are you feeling? Healthy? You feeling good entering this week?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Yeah. I feel a lot better. You know, I've decided to take it day by day, and when I came here for media day right after Singapore, I wasn't sure how long it was going to take me, and unfortunately it took me a little bit longer than I thought, and all I wanted to make sure was that I was ready for this week, to be able to defend, and I didn't play last week in Phoenix, so that gave me some extra time to just take care of myself and my health and my game as well, and so you know, I feel good about this week.
THE MODERATOR: Perfect. And a lot of people have been talking about the course conditions here, and recently I heard someone say it's been voted one of the Top‑25 courses in the country. Heading out there, have you noticed a difference between last year and this year in terms of course condition.
BEATRIZ RECARI: I definitely noticed that it's in a lot better shape. The fairways are nice and have a really nice turf. I remember last year was a little bit more wet in terms of there were some areas that were a little bit muddy.
But no, I mean this week I could definitely tell the fairways were really nice, and you know, even, and fortunately the rough is not as high as last year. That I noticed, too, but also the greens are rolling better than last year, too. So I think, you know, definitely overall it's looking better and it's going to be a good challenge.
Q. Now, how does this course play to the strengths in your game?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Well, you know, it's a very ‑‑ it's a course that has ‑‑ you know, it's not like one of those courses that you finish the round and you look back and you can't really tell, you know, hole 13 with hole 15. You know, each hole is different, and it has its own character. And you know, you have to really position the ball all the time, from the tee and on to the green, you know, even though some greens are not the biggest. You know, some greens are big and some are a little bit smaller but still, it's important to place the ball and make sure that you have most of the times uphill putt because downhill putts are really fast.
You know, and sometimes the greens are tricky to read, but it's no surprise that it is voted one of the Top‑25 courses in the country.
THE MODERATOR: Well, and you just mentioned putt there. You had a pretty memorable putt to win the tournament last year. Can you talk a little bit about the plaque they presented you commemorating that I saw on Instagram. You posted that yesterday; right?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Yes. It was a very nice present or gift that obviously the tournament and Kia did for me remembering last year. It was very special, and they showed it to me when I came for media day, so it was definitely a confidence booster and brought a lot of memories, you know. And still, you know, when I go back and I see the ball going in, you know, it gives me goose bumps every time I remember it, and to have a little plaque just to, you know.
THE MODERATOR: It's so special.
BEATRIZ RECARI: It is. It is. It's definitely a very nice thing they did, and you know, it's always, you know, when you play courses and you see the plaques like Fred Couples, like I played Lake Nona, and Fred Couples' second shot hole on No. 9 and you're like, oh, you know, I wish I had my own plaque, and now I have my own plaque here at Aviara.
THE MODERATOR: Exactly. Well, now, every time you hit the 18th green this week, are you going to feel a little more added excitement knowing that your name's out there.
BEATRIZ RECARI: Yes. Like I said, anything that brings you a good vibe and positive feeling is always good.
THE MODERATOR: Good. So also at the end of this week the International Crown teams will be set. Have you had a chance to look at your team's roster, and how do you feel going into that event.
BEATRIZ RECARI: I haven't really paid attention too much. I never really liked to pay attention to things that are out of my control, and you know, I was sure that we had a very good ‑‑ or strong performance coming in, and I think if we by the end of this week we're qualified, I think we'll play really well together.
THE MODERATOR: Good. And just touching on the whole International Crown, can you talk about the excitement of playing country versus country, and will that fire you up, so to speak, playing for your country.
BEATRIZ RECARI: Yes. You know, we're so used to playing, at least back in Europe, you know, playing ‑‑ every year we always have, you know, competitions that were by team, or you know, always playing for your country and always a team event. So you know, then after when you turn pro, you kind of like leave that behind, so it's really good to go back to those memories, you know, when we played as an amateur for your country, and it's definitely going to be very special as a professional to be able to represent your country.
THE MODERATOR: Perfect. Thanks, Beatriz.