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Preview interview with Karrie Webb

Q. Thank you Karrie for coming in.  I suppose we'll get the question out right away, last week, a bit of a mush there but gave you plenty of time to practice.

KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, a little bit of practice.  It was definitely a bit of a shock, even the way I played for the first two rounds.  Thinking that I'd miss the cut so I was very careless in the score tent; was already planning what I was going to do for the weekend, where I was going to practice, that sort of thing.  So, just a little careless and not taking the usual time to do my card like I normally would.

Q. What are your thoughts on this course, you've been around this morning?  A lot of the players have come in and said that they think the driving is key around here, is that what you think?

            KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I think definitely driving is key around here, but I think, depending on if the greens get any faster or any firmer, I think your shot into the green's going to be important because I think if the greens get faster you're probably not going to want to be above think hole on some of the holes.  So you don't really have to think about where you place the ball to give yourself the best opportunity to putt.

Q. Just before I open it to the floor, I read an article in which you were saying that golf needs more funding and in the back we have a couple of juniors that are playing here. Can you just elaborate a little bit on that, what would happen, how the juniors need to get started and what kind of funding you were talking about?

            KARRIE WEBB:  I was just in an Olympic meeting and talking to us about the Olympics in 2016, I think when golf was announced in the Olympics, I think all around the world we thought governments would be giving golf more money now, more funding. I think with the results, I think we shouldn't be saying the men are doing this and the women are doing this, I think our results should be grouped together because we're going to be a golf team as part of the Australian team at the Olympics.

If I were to win a medal at the Olympics I think it would impact funding for Golf Australia across the board, it wouldn't just impact women's golf.  I'm not sure if the Government's waiting to see if we produce any medals but I think what  Adam Scott did last year reminded me a lot of what Greg Norman was doing when I was a little kid. 

I don't think it necessarily means that young girls aren't inspired by a male, because that's what got me into golf and wanting to be a professional golfer, you know, Greg Norman was the best thing on the planet when I was a young kid and that inspired me to want to keep at the game and want to work at the game.

So I think that's why Adam Scott's success should be looked at as a whole and not just that's what the men are producing and this is what the women are producing.  I think some funding obviously can go to the women.  

I know Golf Australia has changed their system since I've been involved and I think they're doing a great job, but I think if they had the money, that money should be spent on younger kids.  I think there's a gap between junior golf and State golf and then to the elite.  I think there needs to be something in the middle where girls can aim.  Once they've represented their State it's a big jump to representing your country and there's nothing in the middle.  

I think we need something in the middle but we also need someone out there identifying talent, kids that are 10, 11, 12 years old that might play golf as a secondary sport and are really good at netball or something but to encourage them to take the golf path rather than the netball path. 

It all takes money.  We've been very lucky with different benefactors and obviously the funding that we're getting but I'd really like to see more and I'd like to see more go to women's golf.

            Q.  Karrie, do you think there's a direct connection between the ideal funding and a lack of top Australian players in the women's game at the moment?

            KARRIE WEBB: Not necessarily I guess.  I think there is a difference between men and women as far as girls staying involved in sport in general.  I think they get to a certain age and if they're not encouraged the right way, they don't stay in sport whereas for most boys growing up, being involved in a sport is just a pre-requisite to being a boy and it's not necessarily that for a girl.

I think that's where it needs to be looked at, trying to keep girls in sport.  I did a junior clinic up in Townsville in January and I also saw a junior camp at another course in Townsville, and there were more girls there than boys and I've never seen them before.  It's really encouraging but you need them to stay in the game, even if they don't play professionally, even Golf Australia is lacking in funding; we just don't have members in clubs.

So you want girls and boys to continue playing golf, even if they don't make it a career, that they're members of clubs and paying their dues and all of that stuff.  I think that's something that needs to be concentrated on.

Q.  What about at the top level of the game once you've stayed in it and you've made it to that grade, is there more that the governing body could be doing as far as helping people reach the higher echelons of the game and stay there?

            KARRIE WEBB:      I think they are doing a really good job.  I think there are different ways to handle women and men and different ways of encouraging players to stay in the game.  What I'm saying too, they're going to find athletes at a younger age, like a netball star that plays golf just on the weekends.  If we had funding, to have someone out there, you know, North Queensland Golf Association tells golf Queensland that there's this young kid up here, come and take a look. You try and encourage that child to stay in golf or take golf as number one and not netball or cricket, or what have you.  I think that's where you get the athletes at a younger age and keep them in golf and then that direction.

            Q.  Just on the card issue from last weekend, such an experienced player, can you put it out of your mind straight away or do you wake up a couple of nights later and think how did I do that?

            KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I mean, hindsight is just a wonderful thing, isn't it?  You can say if I had of done this or if I had of done that, so yeah, I was quite upset with myself and disappointed.   I had a lot of family down and feel like I let them down a bit but there's always a silver lining and I got to spend a lot more time with my family - and it's the last couple of days that I see them before I head back overseas - so it was good to be able to do that, but I would have also liked to have played a little bit.

            Q.  Did it dent your confidence on the course?

            KARRIE WEBB:  I don't think so.  I probably feel a little more under done than I would have if I'd play four rounds last week, but that's just the way it is. My preparation this week has gone quite well, so I feel quite comfortable around here.  If I can just keep that sort of level up that I've had the last two days it should feel pretty good out there.

            Q.  You said that you felt a little bit shocked about the way that you played, how have you evaluated that?  What have put that down to, anything in particular?

            KARRIE WEBB: It was just a bit scratchy from tee to green; nothing was really great.  But I did get a chance to probably do some practice that if I was still playing a tournament I might not have worked on those things.  I've tried to nail those things down since Sunday, you know, those are feeling pretty good. It's just once the gun goes off it's whether they still feel as good as they have in practice.

            Q.  Just on the Olympics, how big a focus will it be to you and is it too early, is there any kind of buzz with the other players, are people talking about the Olympics?  Is it going to be a big deal for golfers?

            KARRIE WEBB: I think it will be a big deal.  It's a big deal for me.  I've always been a sports nut and I've always loved the Olympics.  So it's not ever something that I ever thought that I'd be a part of and to have the opportunity to is really exciting in itself. 

We just had this Olympic briefing and I think everyone in the room walked out going I want to make the Olympic team. I think from the women's side of the game, I don't hear anyone not wanting to play.  Even though it's two and a half years away and you can't really think about it day to day at the moment, I think it's in the back of everyone's mind.

            Q.  I guess Karrie, what you were talking about before, the future of the game and from a global perspective as someone who is passionate about golf having a bright future; we had Lydia Ko in here before, it must be good to see her and the next generation coming through and a strong future globally for the game as well?

            KARRIE WEBB: Yeah it is.  I think there's been a handful of young girls ready at a very young age in the last couple of years, like Vic Thompson was the same, Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel, they were all under 18 when they turned professional.

I think it's definitely great for the game.   It's very exciting, to think that someone of that age is ready to play at the elite level of golf is really impressive to me because I wasn't anywhere near that at 15 years of age. 

Too, I think it's important for the young girls in the back to note that it's still a one percentile of female golfers are ready - probably not even one per cent - are ready to play at an elite level at that age and I talk to a lot of the young girls that win my scholarship and come to the US Open, that you don't have to be ready at 17, you can be ready at 20, you can be ready at 22, 23, because you can play golf into your forties and play it at an elite level.

I think there's a danger there with some young girls either think well I'm never going to be good enough because I'm 16, Lydia Ko's 16 and I'm not as good as her and I'll never be a professional, and give the game away or turn pro too early and they're not ready, then they struggle for a few years and then financially it's a struggle and then they give up the game as well. 

I think that's the guidance that girls need over the guys, because there's not a lot of guys ready to play men's golf at 16 and that's where you need to encourage them to really mature at their own pace and there's no pressure.  You're not failing by turning pro at 22. 

I was 20 in Europe in 1995 and I was the youngest on tour and I was 21 the following year in the States and I was the youngest on tour.  Lexi Thompson will be on tour five years when she's 21 [LAUGHS] and they'll be saying she's a veteran at 23.   There's no rush.  I think that's an important message: You're ready when you're ready. 

            Q.  Karrie, I'm from Victoria Golf Club and we run a junior program there.  We have 50 junior girls, 10 of them are eight, but we do not get any funding from Golf Australia.  Do you think we should appeal to Golf Australia for funds?


Q.  You talk about the future of golf and juniors, we do not push our girls to turn pro or anything like that, just like Kono is one of our girls who you met yesterday.

            KARRIE WEBB: I think your program's probably best approaching Golf Victoria to start with, the girls are going to come through that program before they ever reach Golf Australia. But that's really impressive and a very great effort to have 50 girls in your junior program.  I hope it continues for a long time because that just raises the chances of one or two of those girls coming out and being a great player and playing successfully as a professional.

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