Karrie Webb took full advantage Sunday of an immaculate golf course with perfect greens in the JTBC Founders Cup at the Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Arizona. She shot a final-round 9-under 63 for her 41st career win.
It was nothing short of spectacular. She had four birdies against a bogey on the front nine to sort of gather momentum and then hit the ground running on the back nine with six birdies to shoot 30. It was made easier, if a 63 can be judged easier in any way, by the fact that, starting six strokes back of Lydia Ko, she didn’t think she really had a chance to win. So that allowed her to play with great freedom:
Today, like I said, I didn’t have sights on sitting up here as champion. So two sort of totally different mindsets, but obviously when I got into the middle of the back nine, I knew that I needed to try and post a number, and it’s a way more comfortable situation because you’ve really got nothing to lose, and you just try and post as low a number as you can and see if it’s good enough.
It is well known that a player well down the leaderboard can shoot some ridiculously low scores because there’s nothing at stake. Christie Kerr shot 9-under on Saturday and Azahara Munoz and Paula Creamer both shot 8-under. In Munoz’ case, she leveraged that run into a 5-under 67 and finished T2. Pretty good stuff.
So I asked Webb about the contrast between that free-run mentality as opposed to having to defend or extend a lead:
Q. So the other side of all the freedom that you played with today is trying to defend the lead. Can you kind of describe that side of the equation as well?
Yeah. I normally have not had a tough time with that in my career. I’d say that I’ve combat — well, a higher percentage than not when I’ve had the lead.
It is different. It’s — especially if someone posts a number as early as I did, I think, then you just sort of start playing to that number rather than trying to birdie every hole. Like on a course like this where, you know, if you’re out there leading and you’re in front, you sort of, you know‑‑ and then no one’s posted a number, the sky’s the limit, but when someone’s posted a number, I think that limits you to that number.
And so that’s probably the tough part for Lydia. Once that number was posted, she knew she had to at least get to that, so you sort of play to that number.
But yeah, it’s different, but if you have the right mindset, I don’t think it’s — if you’re in the right mindset, I don’t think — I enjoy being in the lead, because I know that’s, you know, I’ve done well in that position before. So I’ve obviously enjoyed coming from behind of late, but I’ll be happy wherever I win from in a tournament.
Q. So you did some work with your coach before the round today?
Just all week. Yeah.
Q. And so was that substantive work or was it just polishing what you were already doing?
Yeah. It’s, I guess, more polishing than anything. It was just trying to get my body dynamics just sequencings out a little bit, that I’m flighting the ball a little bit too high and just trying to get the flight down a little bit, which this week it didn’t really matter because it’s not windy, but for future tournaments it will.
Q. Did you find yourself thinking about this work while you were playing today, or you were just shooting at pins?
No, no. I was thinking about it, yeah.
Q. And so how did you manage to have that in mind and still keep going at the pins?
I know you guys think that we just go out there and have nice swing thoughts, but I think it’s been about 12, 13 years since I’ve played golf without a swing thought.
I think you always have a couple, and then, you know, having Ian in this week is prep for Kraft, and I’d rather be a little bit more technical this week than I want to be at Kraft. So you know, that’s why we were doing that stuff this week.
Lydia Ko began the day with the 54-hole lead and after five holes, seemed a lock to bring home the bacon; she birdied four of them in a row beginning with the 2nd.
On the par-3 6th, the wind knocked her tee shot down onto the front fringe where she was left with a steep, uphill putt with a sweeping right-to-left break. She came up short and as the putt started dying it started breaking hard left and stopped four or five feet away. She missed the putt.
No problem. Just move on to the 7th hole and hit it to 10 feet. Except Jessica Korda, her playing partner, had the hole from hell that ended in a quadruple-bogey eight. And it took forever for the tee shot ruling…the bladed wedge way over the green and down into the woods…the provisional for a lost ball…the search for the original ball…the decision to go back to the original spot and play the shot again…and…the 3-putt. Ko missed the putt and sort of flattened her momentum, although I’m sure she’s too gracious to ever blame that on Korda.
That putt eventually would keep her out of a playoff and the 3-putt on the par-5 11th would doom her win. Ko finished T2 with Monoz, Stacy Lewis, Amy Yang and Mirim Lee, an up-and-coming rookie who is going to do extremely well out on the LPGA.
Finally, Karrie Webb’s unexpected victory and $225,000 bounty caught her off guard; her heart filled with good will and she made a $50,000 charitable contribution, split between two golf organizations dear to her heart.
The first is, The Founders Film, the story of the 13 women who founded the LPGA.
They interviewed me early in the week for the documentary, and after the interview, I asked them when they thought that they’d have the documentary done. And they said that it all depended on funding and that they had about 10 percent of the total raised for the movie. So I was just standing on the 18th green when Mike was introducing me, and it just came to me that, you know, that you know, I would love to be a part of that movie being — or documentary being produced, and I really think it’s something that should be produced. And I think there should be a lot of attention put on it so that people are aware and maybe they get the total funding that they need.
You know what to do, LPGA fans.
The other charity is, Girls Golf, a national initiative administered by the LPGA and USGA designed to seed the future of the game by bringing young girls into it in a fun and engaging way. In turn, Girls Golf and many of the girls involved in it, are prominently featured throughout the Founders Cup week.
You know what to do, LPGA fans.