Karrie Webb’s fabled playing career is littered with records and milestones. But one rain-soaked afternoon in Scotland will long be remembered as a ‘Super’ performance.
Bad weather rolled into Turnberry during the final round of the Weetabix Women's British Open on August 11, 2002, and it proved a helpful aid to Webb, who was vying to reel in the three-stroke deficit set by 54-hole leader, Spain’s Paula Marti.
“I asked for a little bit of bad weather and I got my wish for about five or six holes, I guess,” Webb said later.
“Fortunately, or unfortunately, you know, the wind dropped and the rain cleared off. But fortunately for me I played those other holes really well in the bad weather, but knew I had to keep the pace up because the course was going to play pretty easy after that, and it did. I mean, there wasn't a lot of wind out there.
“And the only thing it was, that it was a little chilly and you had gotten so wet early on that it would be the only thing that would affect you. Fortunately, I kept everything going and obviously made a great par save at 16, which really was a big key.”
The wind and rain gave Webb the belief if she could post a low number she would be a real chance of winning.
"Well, when you're on the driving range and it's blowing about 15 or 20 miles an hour and the rain is sideways, there's no score that you could ever put in your mind,” Webb said. “You just have to go out there and play and just see what happens … because if I thought I could shoot even par and win, my mind set would not have been in the right gear for when the weather got better, because I needed to play aggressively and make some birdies.
“Fortunately, I had already done that in the first couple of holes.”
A terrific front nine saw Webb contending. Midway through the back nine she was three strokes clear of Marti and fellow Aussie Michelle Ellis.
On the 16th tee, Webb’s group was notified by a rules official that they were on the clock. This rattled Webb, who tried to speed up her own play and rushed a wedge approach into the green. Her ball flew long and right onto a bank, while her recovery pitch settled 30-feet from the cup. A bogey or worse with two holes to play would prove disastrous, but, instead, the 27-year-old drained the par-saving putt and rolled in another, from 12 feet, at the next for a birdie to seal the win.
Looking back on the win, Webb said she had never played better under the pressure of coming from behind to win.
“I’ve probably played as good or better when I've had to maintain a lead,” she said. “Probably in tougher conditions I've played better, but early on today I played really well in tough conditions and made a great par save on the 1st, which I think really settled me down a little bit. I didn't miss really too many shots … but I made some good putts.”
RIGHT: History made ... PHOTO: Getty Images.
And in doing so, Marti and Ellis seemed powerless to overcome the charging Webb. She posted a closing 66 and finished two ahead of the field in collecting her sixth major championship in four years and the first player to win the British Open title three times.
Her Turnberry victory also meant the same four players - Webb, Se Ri Pak, Juli Inkster and Annika Sorenstam - had won 16 out of the previous 19 majors.
"It's not a feat that everyone has a chance to do. There's not a lot of players on tour that have a chance of doing it even, so I feel pretty honoured and feel great that I've been the first player to do it.” - Karrie Webb.
Webb also became the first player since Mickey Wright in 1964 to win a major four years in a row.
Even more impressive was she also became the first to win the LPGA's Super Slam of five majors. As she had also won the Du Maurier, the Nabisco Championship, the US Open and the LPGA Championship, she had already completed the old Grand Slam. By adding the 2002 British Open, she completed the Super Slam of five.
"It's one of the best rounds that I can remember," Webb said with the trophy in hand.
“At the start of the year, I knew that coming into this week I did have a chance to win all five majors on the LPGA. It feels great.
“It's not a feat that everyone has a chance to do. There's not a lot of players on tour that have a chance of doing it even, so I feel pretty honoured and feel great that I've been the first player to do it.”