The remarkable roll of honour at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore added a touch of golfing royalty when Karrie Webb tapped in to seal a one-shot victory and claim the 2011 title. Webb, a seven-time Major champion of member of the World Golf Hall of Fame joined a short list of winners from the exclusive club of world number ones: Lorena Ochoa in 2008, Jiyai Shin in 2009 and Ai Miyazato last year.
“I'm glad my name is on the trophy, as well. I'm the oldest player, I don't know by how many years, but I'll take it,” said Webb who at 36 years of age is actually 10 years older than Lorena was when she won the inaugural event at the Tanah Merah Country Club in 2008.
“It's definitely a world-class event and you have the best players in the world here. And great players have won this event.”
Theoretically, Webb doesn’t belong to the number one club, but only because the rankings were introduced after she had relaxed her grip on the world of women’s golf. At her peak, the Queenslander was almost unstoppable winning two majors in both 2000 and 2001 and back-to-back LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Awards in 1999 and 2000. Her last great season was in 2005 (the year she was inducted into the Hall of Fame) when she won five times on the LPGA and claimed the ANZ Masters in her home state and pocketed over US$2 million in prize money.
“For me, personally, to win this event, to win this early in the year, I really hope it sets things up for a great run. You know, I think I handled my emotions very well,” said Karrie who has remained a regular winner of the landmark events in her home country, but last won on the LPGA in 2009.
Webb’s duel with the latest young Japanese superstar, 23-year-old Chie Arimura, and the presence of home favourite and newly-crowned world number one Yani Tseng on the leader board led to record crowds for the HSBC Women’s Champions, with around 28,000 crowding the fairways an increase of almost 20 per cent on the previous year.
“We’ve crowned another great champion, this time a legend of the game, after two years of supremely talented young Asians winning,” said Giles Morgan HSBC Group Head of Sponsorship.
“We’ve also seen another glimpse of the future in Chie who has been hugely successful in Japan. Yani Tseng’s performance was remarkable too and then you had all the young Americans and Koreans in the top 10 too; having a leader board that looked like the United Nations and a crowd that was just as culturally diverse is a wonderful metaphor for us as a business!”
Webb too was eager to point out that no-one should think Chie “lost” the tournament after posting a one-under-par final round only to be trumped by her own three-under-par 69.
“I think she played well. It wasn't easy out there. I think any score under par under that pressure was a good score and she was there with a chance right until the end. I don't think she should hang her head at all. I think she should be very proud of how she played,” Webb said.