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Webb Sights Set on Another Big Year

March 15, 2001|THOMAS BONK

The Karrie Webb Worldwide Tour stops in Phoenix this week for the Standard Register Ping after a hit performance in her native Australia, then moves on to an even larger stage--the LPGA's first major of the year, the Nabisco Championship at Rancho Mirage.

Webb, the LPGA's two-time player of the year, is the defending champion at Mission Hills, where she ran circles around the rest of the field and wound up winning by 10 shots.

"After last year's performance, I have great memories there," Webb said.

No kidding. Anyway, Webb, still looking for her first LPGA Tour victory this year, arrived in Phoenix on Monday from Australia, where she won the Australian Masters and was second at the Australian Open, raising a fuss along the way when she hinted she might boycott both events in a one-woman protest of prize money.

The total purse at the Australian Open was about $600,000.

Webb said she probably wouldn't sit out the tournaments, but she did say it has crossed her mind.

Now she is busy trying to figure out ways to repeat what she did last year when she won seven times--twice in majors--and qualified for the Hall of Fame once she puts in the necessary 10 years.


News item: The USGA announces it will adopt indoor testing methods by Jan. 1 to determine whether balls conform to the Rules of Golf.

Reaction: Let's hope it goes just as smoothly as the USGA's conforming golf club tests.


Now it can be told: After Tiger Woods double-bogeyed the last hole to lose at Dubai, he was distraught enough that the awards ceremony for Thomas Bjorn had to be delayed for a while so Woods could compose himself.

But after taking last week off in Florida, Woods is at Bay Hill and ready again to try to end his so-called winless "slump" that now measures eight consecutive PGA Tour events.

Arnold Palmer is one of the many who thinks the slump talk is way overdone.

Says Palmer: "When he wins again, which he will soon, everybody will start writing that the slump wasn't so long after all."


And while we're on the subject of slumps, David Duval's continues. Duval, who hasn't finished higher than 53rd in a full-field event this year, pulled out of Bay Hill because of a sore wrist.


The New Zealand PGA Championship is reportedly offering Woods $4 million (yes, that's four million dollars) to play next year's event the first week of January.

The tournament is opposite the Mercedes Championships, which Woods has not qualified for, by the way, so it might have to be moved to accommodate Tiger, probably to the week of the Bob Hope.


Woods earned an average of $110,703 every round he played last year. He's averaging $27,292 a round this year. Woods is defending his title at Bay Hill this week, then going to the Players Championship and taking a week off before the Masters.


News item: Former European Ryder Cup captain Mark James, who has had operations for testicular cancer and abdominal cancer, vows to return to the golf course in May for the Volvo PGA at Wentworth.

Reaction: Let's hope he makes 18 birdies.


In case you missed it (and how in the world could you?), Jesper Parnevik wore a black shirt with no collar, a black cap and a white belt with plaid pants when he won at the Honda.

Said Parnevik's wife, Mia: "I didn't dress him."


Annika Sorenstam must have known she was going to win the Welch's/Circle K sooner than last Sunday.

Sorenstam pulled the note out of her fortune cookie at dinner last Tuesday night. It said, "Your goals will be realized this week."

She opened another fortune cookie at a different restaurant the next night. It said the same thing.

By the way, it was Sorenstam's first victory since July.


Better keep an eye on Robert Karlsson this year. The 32-year-old Swede has not only dyed his blond hair a flaming red, he also has junked his health food diet and gone back to ice cream whenever he feels like it.

Said Karlsson: "It's my life."

You may remember Karlsson for missing out on the 1999 Ryder Cup team even though he was No. 11 in the qualifying table. He was passed over for the wild card by James in favor of Andrew Coltart.


News item: Jim Furyk used a long-handled putter with a 42-inch shaft at the Honda.

Reaction: Maybe it'll help him with that crazy loop in his swing.


You have to admire the candidness of European players Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke, who recently aired their marital problems in the media.

Both players said their marriages were in trouble because of the demands of playing pro golf. Montgomerie, a Scot, wrote about his problems in a column in an English newspaper. Clarke, from Northern Ireland, talked to the Irish Independent about how golf strained his relationship with his wife, Heather, over the winter.

"We had problems," Clarke said. "It is tough too, when you've got a 2 1/2-year-old son who wants to know why you're going away all the time."

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