Mark Hayes, Golf Australia
Karrie Webb is coming back to where it all began. The seven-time major champion and Wold Golf Hall of Fame member has today confirmed she will return for her 21st tilt at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
Remarkably, highlighting the commitment she has shown to the game across her homeland, Webb has not missed her national championship since she made her professional debut in the event in 1994.
But the 2017 edition will be a special one for the record-holding five-time Patricia Bridges Bowl champion – back to Royal Adelaide for the first time since those heady days as a 19-year-old.
“Royal Adelaide holds fond memories for me as it was the site of my first professional event,” Webb said. “I recall being extremely nervous and it was very hot and dry, but I played OK to finish around the middle of the field (T-28 behind the legendary Annika Sorenstam).
“It is the only time I have played Royal Adelaide, so I’m definitely excited to come back and hopefully not be as nervous this time!”
Webb showed precious few nerves this year in finishing third behind Haru Nomura and world No.1 Lydia Ko, both of whom will return in 2017.
And the Queensland legend can’t wait to feel the love of the partisan South Australian crowd in February.
“The Women’s Australian Open was a terrific event at The Grange in 2016 and it is already a world-class tournament,” Webb enthused. “The support from the Adelaide crowds and the weather were outstanding and has taken the event to new heights. “It is really building momentum and I have no doubt Royal Adelaide will again meet all our high expectations.”
Tournament director Trevor Herden said Webb’s commitment was a huge boost to the fully sanctioned LPGA Tour tournament, especially after fellow Aussies Minjee Lee and Su Oh committed last week.
“You need only to have walked a couple of holes with Karrie at this year’s Open to realise the public’s love for the tournament’s most decorated player,” Herden said. “When she made a move early in the final round to put herself in contention again, the passion was almost palpable and we know she’ll be the favourite for many in the crowd at Royal Adelaide.”