A Message to Webb
Like it or not, as the LPGA's top player you have a
responsibility to do more for the tour
This is an article from the Sept. 4, 2000 issue
Congratulations on your victory at the Oldsmobile Classic, your
sixth win of the season. Without question you have become one of
the most important figures in the history of women's golf. That
is the reason for this letter. I don't have to tell you that the
LPGA is corporate America's third choice when it comes to golf.
When a sponsor can't be found for the du Maurier Classic, a major
championship, the situation speaks for itself.
Fairly or unfairly, to make their product more attractive, the
women, as Ty Votaw and every LPGA commissioner before him have
said, have to try harder, and the top player hardest of all. In
my opinion this is an area in which you haven't been doing your
Take what happened two weeks ago at the Women's British Open. You
incurred a two-stroke penalty in the third round after a
commentator on the BBC telecast correctly reported that you had
taken an improper drop. You were understandably upset about your
error, which was committed largely because you avoided an
official in the interest of pace of play. It was also
understandable that you declined a BBC interview request for fear
that you might say something intemperate. But that's exactly what
you did a few minutes later when you told a BBC representative
trying to film your answers to print journalists, "I will never
do another interview with the BBC. You can shove it. When I'm
over here next year, don't even ask, don't even think about it."
Votaw didn't want to dwell on the incident, saying, "I'm chalking
it up to a bad day." Your agent at IMG, Jay Burton, called it "a
reaction moment." I call it inexcusable, another example of the
petulance you too often exhibit.
Why, for instance, are you annoyed when asked to compare your
exploits with those of Tiger Woods? Am I missing something? Am I
mistaken to think that being compared with Woods--and
statistically, the similarities are amazing--is a compliment and
an easy way to get added exposure for the women's game?
Come on, Karrie, this diva act has to stop. It hurts the LPGA.
Whether you like it or not, you're the face of the association
and are judged on more than what you do on the course. You don't
have to be the second coming of Nancy Lopez, and I respect the
fact that you are shy. I know you've taken refuge in another
comparison--with Mickey Wright--who preferred to let her record
speak for her, and still does. But Wright also did a lot of heavy
lifting to promote the LPGA, including serving as its president
for two years. She gave back a great deal, probably more than was
good for her career.
No one expects you to sacrifice that much. Nor am I saying that
you are always difficult. You are to be commended for working
with the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, which assists
victims of paralysis, such as your swing coach, Kelvin Haller.
You showed your appreciation for the LPGA's early pathfinders
with a well-delivered speech at the tour's 50th anniversary gala
in January. When I covered your win at last year's du Maurier, I
found you cooperative, insightful and likable.
You have the tools. You just need to polish them with the same
diligence you've applied to your game. Although carrying the
weight of a tour on 25-year-old shoulders is expecting a lot,
such responsibility comes with the territory you now occupy.
Woods has accepted this reality, and it's not coincidental that
his image, his life and his game have improved.
Look at your duties as an opportunity, not as a burden. Golf is
as popular as it has ever been, and women's golf should be riding
the wave. If you work to connect with the public, you'll be
remembered as a herald as well as a great player. You don't have
to change to do it. Just let your best self come through.
The Nicklaus Factor
Who's Best at Bear Tracks?
What type of golfer has the best shot at winning next week's
Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club, outside Toronto? The kind
who hits the ball high and works it from left to right. That's
because Glen Abbey is one of eight Jack Nicklaus-designed golf
courses that have hosted Tour events in the last decade, and
history shows that players who can hit a high cut--Nicklaus's
preferred shot--have the best records on his layouts.
Among those who have played at least 15 tournaments on Nicklaus
tracks--in addition to Glen Abbey, the Tour sites are Annandale
(Southern Farm Bureau), Castle Pines (International), English
Turn (New Orleans), Montreux (Reno), Muirfield Village
(Memorial), Shoal Creek (PGA) and Valhalla (PGA)--Greg Norman has
the best record, with four victories and 12 other top 10
finishes. Next best is Fred Couples with one win and eight other
top 10s. Tied for third with eight top 10s are David Duval (seven
of his were seconds or thirds) and Vijay Singh (two wins). Davis
Love III and Phil Mickelson have been less consistent but they
have two victories each. All are long drivers. Among those who
have played fewer than 15 tournaments on courses that Jack built,
two long hitters have had great success. Tiger Woods has three
victories, including two at Muirfield Village and one at
Valhalla, and Carlos Franco has two wins and a third.
Shorter hitters and those who have trouble moving the ball left
to right usually struggle on Nicklaus courses. Mark O'Meara, a
shorter hitter who normally moves the ball right to left, won the
'95 Canadian Open at Glen Abbey but otherwise has only one top 10
in 29 starts.
Some short hitters simply pass up tournaments at Bear lairs.
Loren Roberts, who has never ranked higher than 150th on the Tour
in driving distance in the last decade, has played 17 Nicklaus
courses during that time (with one top 10) but with diminishing
frequency. In the last four years he has skipped all the Nicklaus
sites except the '99 Canadian Open and this year's PGA.
If Tiger Woods wins next year's Masters and Steve Williams
(above) is on the bag, the 36-year-old New Zealander will become
the first caddie to win all four major championships. Here are
the caddies with the most victories in the majors.
Alfie Fyles '75, '77, '80, '82, '83 British Opens (Tom Watson).
The Book: Watson loved Fyles's diligence and thick Scottish
brogue, but according to another caddie, "Alfie couldn't club a
Willie Peterson '63, '65, '66, '72, '75 Masters (Jack Nicklaus).
The Book: A flamboyant character who was said to live beyond
his means, Peterson once told Nicklaus, "Mister Jack, I need to
have more than anyone's ever been paid."
Willie (Pappy) Stokes '38 Masters (Henry Picard), '48 Masters
(Claude Harmon), '51 and '53 Masters (Ben Hogan), '56 Masters
(Jack Burke Jr.). The Book: Born on the grounds of Augusta
National, Stokes excelled at pulling the right club--without
looking at a yardage book. He told Burke in 1956 before the
winning putt on the 72nd green, "Cruise it right in there, Mr.
Burke. Cruise it in."
Nathaniel (Ironman) Avery '58, '60, '62, '64 Masters (Arnold
Palmer). The Book: A fine player in his own right, Avery fired up
Palmer down the stretch of the '60 Masters by asking, "Mr.
Palmer, are we choking?" Says Palmer, "Ironman wasn't the
greatest caddie, but his understanding of what made me tick was
Jeff (Squeeky) Medlen '91 PGA (John Daly), '92 PGA, '94 British
Open, '94 PGA (Nick Price). The Book: On every tee at Crooked
Stick in '91, Medlen provided Daly with his winning swing
thought, "Kill." Says Price, "When Squeeky and I were clicking
in the early '90s, we could read each other's minds."
Dave Musgrove '79 British Open (Seve Ballesteros), '85 British
Open, '88 Masters (Sandy Lyle), '98 U.S. Open (Lee Janzen). The
Book: Quiet but strong-willed, Musgrove says a lot with a few
words. He clashed with the fiery Ballesteros, calmed the gentle
but jumpy Lyle and was stoically consistent for the intense
Dave Renwick '94 Masters (Jose Maria Olazabal), '95 PGA (Steve
Elkington), '98 PGA, '00 Masters (Vijay Singh). The Book: A
Scotsman who speaks his mind, Renwick was fired two weeks ago by
Singh. He might end up with David Duval.
Fanny Sunesson '90 Masters, '90 and '92 British Open, '96 Masters
(Nick Faldo). The Book: She earned her reputation for working as
hard as any caddie with her attentiveness to Faldo during his
marathon practice sessions.
Steve Williams '99 PGA, '00 U.S. Open, '00 British Open, '00 PGA
(Tiger Woods). The Book: Williams has an energy and intensity
that make him a good fit for Woods. Says Raymond Floyd, "Steve's
the only caddie I've had who didn't choke."
The players finished the NEC Invitational in the dark because,
to them, it's just an aimless exhibition dressed up as one of
the World Golf Championships. The NEC, with its patchwork field
of cuppers and European money leaders, cries out, "What am I?"
The International Federation of PGA Tours needs to give this
problem child serious attention before it embarrasses the whole
family of World tour events.
What do these players have in common?
They have the best records in Solheim Cup history among all
players with five or more matches. Daniel is 7-3-2, Pepper is
12-4-1 and Steinhauer is 5-2.
If Tiger Woods is victorious in next year's Masters, he will
have won the four majors consecutively. Should that feat be
considered a Grand Slam, or must he win them all in the same
It's a Slam......53%
It's not a Sla...47%
--Based on 15,648 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Whom should CBS hire to replace Ken Venturi, who
is rumored to be retiring at the end of the season? Paul Azinger,
Peter Jacobsen, Bill Murray, Mark O'Meara or Ben Wright?
Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
Ken Venturi passed over 12 higher-ranked players to make Paul
Azinger one of his captain's picks for the Oct. 19-22 Presidents
Cup outside Washington, D.C. Will Venturi's gamble pay off? Here
are the five lowest-ranked wild-card picks ever in the
Presidents and the Ryder Cups, and their record in the matches.
RECORD PTS. LIST
Fred Couples, '95 Ryder 2-1-1 34th
Lanny Wadkins, '93 Ryder 2-1-1 32nd
Paul Azinger, '00 Presidents ---- 24th
Raymond Floyd, '91 Ryder 2-2 23rd
Curtis Strange, '95 Ryder 0-3 23rd
Ben Curtis, Ostrander, Ohio
Curtis, 23, defeated an elite field to win the Players Amateur
at Belfair Golf Course in Bluffton, S.C. America's third-ranked
amateur and a recent graduate of Kent State, Curtis shot a
17-under-par 271 to top Matt Weibring, 20, of Plano, Texas, by
a stroke. Curtis reached the fourth round of last week's U.S.
Brittany Adams, Huntington, W.Va.
Brittany, 16, became the second-youngest winner of the Women's
West Virginia Amateur, shooting a 16-over-par 232 for a
one-stroke victory over two-time champ Yvonne Cox, 22, of
Charleston. A junior at Midland High, where she plays on the
boys' team, Brittany also took the State Girls Junior
championship in the 15-16 age division.
Troy Gillespie, Bloomington, Ind.
Gillespie, a 31-year-old car-wash manager, won the Bloomington
City Championship for a third time, beating Dick Meacham, 45, of
Bloomington 9 and 7 in the final. Gillespie also won this title
in 1991 and '99 and is a member of the Bloomington Golf Hall
of Fame. He closed out Meacham on the 11th hole with his ninth
birdie of the round.
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