BELLEAIR, Florida – It’s a week of returns for several prominent players on the LPGA. While No. 1 Jin Young Ko’s 2020 debut might garner early-week headlines, fans will be pleased to see LPGA Hall of Famer Karrie Webb back in the mix for the first time since February. She tees off Thursday at 12:10 p.m. EST in the new Pelican Women’s Championship alongside Stacy Lewis and Sung Hyun Park.
Webb, who spent the long break at her home in South Florida, said she hadn’t planned to compete in many tournaments before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The long break helped work out several “niggles” in her body, though a lingering neck issue will keep her from ever going back to a full-time schedule again. The wear-and-tear injury was brought on by the same repetitive motion day after day.
“If I wanted to live with a constant headache and play full-time,” she said, “then I’d be alright.”
Webb, a seven-time major winner, won’t be in the field at the 75th U.S. Women’s Open next month, her first time missing the championship since her debut in 1996. Webb has missed a handful of majors over the years, but in 2020 she won’t play in a single one. She’d hoped to go to the two tournaments in Scotland, which included the AIG Women’s British Open at Royal Troon, but said the long car rides to the host hotels would’ve made that too difficult on her body.
“I played eight events last year and four majors,” she said, “and you just can’t play that little amount and then show up at a major. I really struggled mentally more than anything, just making good decisions.
“Your game has to be sharp, but you have to be mentally sharp to hit away from flags. When you’re playing at the club with your mates, you just fire at the pins all day long, even if you don’t have that shot, still try to pull it off.”
The Aussie legend won’t go so far as to say that she wouldn’t play in another LPGA major, but they’ll be limited going forward.
Webb watched plenty of LPGA golf on TV and was especially pleased to see good friend Mel Reid break through with her first victory. The pair played a lot of golf during the LPGA’s COVID-19 hiatus.
“I’ve been talking to her for the last few years,” said Webb, “just trying to get her to believe in her abilities. What everyone else sees.”
Webb takes her role as a mentor seriously. For the past dozen years she has invited the top Aussie players from her scholarship program to stay with her the week of a major championship. This year, with no majors to play in, Webb has instead invited Gabi Ruffels and Emily Mahar the opportunity to stay at her house the week before the U.S. Women’s Open.
“We’ll play some golf and go out on the boat,” she said.
By every measure, a priceless opportunity.