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FOCUS ON GOLF / THE YEAR IN REVIEW

Karrie-Over

Webb Followed Up Stellar 1999 Season With an Even Better Year in 2000

November 02, 2000|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

What kind of year was 2000 on the LPGA Tour? You could answer that question in two words: Karrie Webb.

Actually, if you look at the last two years on the women's pro golf tour, the book on the LPGA has been stuck on a Webb page. Last year, Webb won six times and had 22 top-10 finishes, won her first major, won the Vare Trophy for the second time and was the player of the year for the first time.

If last year was a Webb domination, this year was even more of the same.

She has won seven times, won two more majors, has 17 top-10 finishes in 21 events and is a cinch to win the Vare Trophy for a third time, the player of the year a second time and the money title for a third time.

Oh, and she also made the Hall of Fame. At age 26.

No one had won seven times in a season since Beth Daniel in 1991.

"I still can't believe that I've achieved what I have," Webb said. "It's like I've lived a dream for about five years now. It just keeps continuing to happen. I'm just going to go with it for as long as it lasts."

Right now, there are no indications it's flagging. Webb is completing her fifth full year on the LPGA Tour, but she already has won 23 times and earned enough points to secure a position in the Hall of Fame once she meets the minimum requirement of 10 years as part of the tour.

The LPGA hasn't seen someone rule the golf course as Webb has since Nancy Lopez. In 1978-79, Lopez won 17 times--but only one was a major, the 1978 LPGA Championship.

If that's not enough, Webb can do even more damage. If she takes the $215,000 winner's share in the $1-million Arch Championship, Nov. 16-19 at the LPGA International at Daytona Beach, Fla., which is the LPGA's Tour Championship, Webb will be the first player in LPGA history to pass $2 million in prize money for one year.

"Every year I look back, I just shake my head," she said. "I can't believe that I've done so much so soon.

"You know, the fact that I've added two other [majors] on the belt, I guess, and I'm not 26 yet, it's really hard for me to believe. Like I said, there are plenty of tournaments for me to play [and] I'm going to go out there and try to win.

"I think I've got far, far more golf to play and the fact that I've achieved this so soon is just a bonus. Everything from now on in is a bonus for me."

Webb won the first event of the year, the Office Depot in West Palm Beach, Fla., and was off and running. She also won the Australian Ladies Masters, the LPGA Takefuji Classic, the Nabisco Championship, the U.S. Women's Open, the Oldsmobile Classic and the AFLAC Champions.

Meg Mallon tied for second at the U.S. Women's Open behind Webb.

"When she's on, she's unbeatable," Mallon said. "Karrie has been fabulous.

"I don't think people talk about her like they talk about Tiger [Woods]. You know, they talk about Tiger like he's a God and nobody can beat him and this and that. I feel like Karrie has played the same way. She's proven herself every time. Sometimes when a player makes it look as easy as she does, it's hard to appreciate how great she is."

The only other player with more than three victories this year is Annika Sorenstam, who has five. Sorenstam won three times in a four-week span--the Evian Masters in France, the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic and the Japan Airlines Big Apple Classic.

In fact, if it weren't for Webb, Sorenstam would have been recognized for a much more noteworthy year.

Sorenstam is second to Webb in player of the year, fourth to Webb in rounds under par, second to Webb in scoring average (69.91 to 70.45), second to Webb in top-10 finishes and second to Webb on the money list.

Sorenstam's earnings for the year have reached $1,333,448--the best total in her seven-year career. But it's far behind Webb's LPGA single-season record of $1,865,053.

Only four years ago, Webb became the first LPGA player to pass $1 million in earnings for one year and now she has a shot at doubling that total. For the first time, there could be five players who pass the $1-million mark. Webb, Sorenstam and Mallon are already over the $1-million level and Juli Inkster is No. 4 on the money list with $957,705. Pat Hurst ($831,311) and Mi Hyun Kim ($825,720) could reach $1 million with a victory at Daytona Beach.

The major championships in 2000 went to Webb at the Nabisco Championship and the U.S. Women's Open, to Inkster at the LPGA Championship and to Mallon at the du Maurier Classic.

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