Karrie Webb: Olympic golf has kept me motivated to play full-time

Karrie Webb: Olympic golf has kept me motivated to play full-time

Vancouver B.C. August 20, 2015 Karrie Webb fires her tee shot on the 16th hole in the morning rounds at the LPGA 2015 Canadian Pacific Women's Open at the Vancouver Golf club in Coquitlam B.C. on August 20, 2015. Mark van Manen /PNG Staff photographer see Vancouver Sun News / Sports / Brad Ziemer /Iain MacIntyre /Ed W. Province Sports and Web. stories 00038520A [PNG Merlin Archive]

Karrie Webb has cemented her place in golf history as one of the greatest players of all time. In her homeland of Australia, however, is where she feels most loved and appreciated. So this week's ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, which she has won a record five times, is a special occasion.

“If I play in Australia once or twice a year it’s the only time that you know the majority of the crowed are for me,” she said Tuesday Down Under. “You know whenever we’re anywhere else in the world, you know if we’re in the States, the crowd has their favorites but if you’re playing against an American you know they’re cheering for the American which rightly so they should be but it’s a nice change to have that when I come home.”

The 41-year-old Webb is setting her sights on not only the 2016 Olympic Games in August. The Olympics weren’t on Webb’s radar when she launched her professional career more than two decades ago. There was no reason for them to be; golf hasn’t been part of the Olympic program since 1904. The prospect of representing her home country in Rio has kept her motivated.

“Twenty years ago it wasn’t important at all as I was never going to compete at the Olympics,” she said, “but you know since golf was announced in the 2016 Olympics it’s definitely been a focus of mine and I think it’s what has
kept me out here playing full-time. It’s important to make the team for me but you know obviously if something were to happen and I didn’t it’s not going to tarnish what I’ve already achieved.”

Webb is also hoping to be a part of the second edition of the LPGA Tour's UL International Crown, which will be played near Chicago in July. Eight nations will qualify, based on the Rolex Rankings. Australia currently ranks eighth on the points list.

Webb was the de facto leader of the Australian team that played in the inaugural event in Baltimore, Md., two years ago.

“We’ve all got to help our rankings a little bit to make sure that we qualify,” she said. “So first I think it’s important that we make it and then you know it’s important that we come together as a team. I think Aussies over in the States or even Europe you see it as well, we all sort of stick together so it’s fun. When we played it two years ago it was fun to hang out just as a team and we don’t get to do that very often in golf. So for me I’d like to, like for us to qualify and you know once we qualify have fun and hopefully we’ll have a chance to win.”

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Rick Woelfel