A condensed version of Dan Patrick's interview with golfer Karrie Webb appears in the May 14 edition of ESPN The Magazine.
DP: When people ask, "Are golfers athletes?" -- what's your response?
|Karrie Webb won seven tournaments in 2000. She has yet to win in 2001 but has finished second three times (through the end of April).|
KW: Yes. I think golfers are athletes moreso today than they were maybe 20 years ago. But over those last 20 years golf has become more and more demanding and to become better and better you have to become physically fit.
DP: But we still look at the sport itself and say, "Do you have to be athletic to play?" Right?
KW: I guess some people do. You know, if you look at who's the best in the world today, most women and men are not only spending hours and hours practicing -- which in itself is pretty physically demanding -- but they're working out ... really not as much as you have to to be a tennis player or a football player, but the physical demands on your body to play golf are different than playing most sports and there are areas that you need to work on to strengthen and to avoid injuries, just like any other sport.
DP: Would you like to play on the men's tour?
KW: I don't think so. I'm quite happy with who I am.
DP: But for some reason, when we look at great female athletes, we wonder how well they would do if they played on the men's tour, whether it's Venus and Serena Williams or you and Annika Sorenstam. Do you take offense to that or is it a compliment to you?
KW: I think it's a compliment because, obviously, the PGA Tour right now is one of the most focused things on television and ... it intrigues a lot of people -- and to be compared to the men is great. It's hard to compare women and men. I think that the best on the LPGA are just as good as the men on the PGA. The only place that we're lacking is physical strength, so I don't think we could compete week in and week out against the men on their courses because we don't hit the ball far enough. But if you set up courses that are equal -- you know, we're hitting a 7-iron and they're hitting a 7-iron -- I think we're just as good as they are.
DP: OK, so if you and Tiger Woods played a par-3 course and every hole is 120 yards, how would you fare?
KW: I think I wouldn't do too badly. ... What I'm getting at is that the best on the LPGA can hit a 7-iron as close as the best on the PGA.
DP: Who is the most famous person you've played golf with who's had the worst golf game?
KW: That's not a fair question.
KW: Because they might read it.
DP: But they would know they have a bad game. ... If you played with President Clinton, he probably realizes he's not a great golfer.
KW: Yes. You know what, I played with -- you know Sarah O'Hare?
DP: Sarah O'Hare?
KW: The supermodel -- she was the Wonderbra supermodel.
DP: Oh. But she can't play golf?
KW: No. Not at all.
DP: But she did look good in her Wonderbra.
KW: My dad thought so.
DP: Your dad got to play?
KW: No, he was out there watching.
DP: The most famous person you've played with who has a good golf game?
KW: Mario Lemieux.
DP: Is Lemieux better than you?
KW: He could be if he worked at it. I think he's got an awesome game.
DP: How often are you asked to compare yourself to Tiger Woods?
KW: In the last two years, just about every time I walk into a media center I have to answer it. Every time I do an interview.
DP: What's the normal question?
KW: The normal question would be, "People think of you as the female Tiger -- the female version of Tiger Woods. What do you think about that?"
DP: And you already have your answer ready?
KW: Yes, it's a bit of a spiel these days.
DP: A favorite sport to play or watch besides golf?
KW: I can watch any sport at any time. When I'm in Australia, I like to watch cricket. That's probably my most favorite sport to watch.
DP: Can you explain cricket in one sentence or less?
KW: Uh, one sentence ... it's 11 guys on a field trying to make as many runs as possible and get the other 11 guys out in less than what they made.
DP: Have you ever worn those outfits that they wear?
KW: No, I haven't.
DP: These guys are stars, right? Are they like our basketball players or football players here?
KW: Yes, definitely.
DP: They have groupies?
KW: I bet they do.
DP: Dumbest rule in golf?
KW: I think the dumbest rule is that if you don't sign your scorecard or if there's some mistake on your scorecard, you get disqualified. Especially on the professional tours -- we have walking scores with us.
DP: Have you ever signed an incorrect scorecard?
KW: Yes. I have signed an incorrect scorecard for a higher score which didn't get me disqualified and I've also forgotten to sign my scorecard ... and got disqualified.
DP: What do you think of Russell Crowe.
KW: I think he's pretty hot.
DP: You claim him, right?
KW: Yes, even though he was born in New Zealand, he lived most of his life in Australia, so I think most Australians claim Russell as Australian.
DP: But what happened when he left with Meg Ryan. Were you upset about that?
KW: Actually, the Australian gossip magazines were very upset with that. They did not want him to be with Meg Ryan.
DP: They wanted him to be with one of his own.
KW: No, no, I don't think so. I just think there was just too much controversy around it and...
DP: Oh, the fact that Meg was married?
DP: Yes. Did you watch the Academy Awards?
KW: I did.
DP: Did you watch "Gladiator"?
KW: Yes, I did.
DP: Did you cry?
KW: Uh, yes. Not really. I was on a plane when I watched it so it wasn't like sobbing crying but...
DP: Had you been at home...
KW: Possibly more, yes. ... I thought it was a great movie though.
DP: What's your favorite movie?
KW: I think that my favorite movie of all time is a tie between "Ace Ventura" and "Austin Powers."
DP: So you have a sick sense of humor, don't you?
DP: What's your favorite line out of either "Ace Ventura" or...
KW: Uh, I don't know. I don't think I have a favorite line. In certain circumstances, I use a line out of it and then no one understands ... because I just crack myself up and no one will know what I'm talking about.
DP: Strangest thing you've thought of when you've been over a putt.
|In Australia, Karrie Webb says she likes to watch cricket. In the U.S., she has season tickets to the Miami Dolphins.|
KW: Well, in the last couple of weeks, sometimes I've been thinking about what I was going to do on my break when I've been over a putt, which is not a good thing.
DP: So you've been thinking about what you're going to do once the tournament's over?
KW: Like I'm on five weeks off now, so a couple of times, before I was lining up my putt I was thinking about things that I would be doing on my off weeks -- and it continued to actually when I was standing over the putt, which is bad.
DP: What else have you thought of? There has to be something juicier...
KW: Juicier than that?
KW: I don't know. Well, my new caddy and I actually get a little carried away with food and stuff and we start thinking about -- it's not juicy though. Especially when we're in Australia, because I miss Australian food immensely and so all my meals were all planned out to where I'd be going to eat and what I'd be having and we'd be just talking about that meal and I'd just be over a putt or a shot thinking about how good that was going to be that night.
DP: If we went to dinner in Australia, what would you order that may surprise me?
KW: If it was a lunch I'd have a meat pie.
DP: OK. I've had meat pie. I'm OK with that. But if we had dinner, are you going to order kangaroo or...
KW: Oh, no. See, I just can't eat that. That's like our national symbol.
DP: But people eat your symbol, don't they?
KW: Yes, but I just can't do that.
DP: Poor little guys.
KW: I know. It's, like, on a coat of arms -- you just can't eat a kangaroo.
DP: But you can eat a crocodile?
KW: Yes, but I haven't eaten one of those either.
DP: What do you eat that might make me cringe?
KW: It sounds bad but tastes really good ... on a menu you would see Morton Bay bugs.
DP: They're bugs?
KW: They're called bugs but they're just like little lobsters -- and they're delicious.
DP: But they're called bugs.
KW: They're called bugs. So on a menu you might see "all-you-can-eat bugs."
KW: Yes. There's a few people who have found that pretty disturbing when they read it. But they're just like small lobsters.
DP: What's the first golf trophy that you won?
KW: When I was 8 years old -- it was my first-ever golf tournament. It was the first time I ever played 18 holes and it was over two days and I shot, I think, like 150 and then 135, and I won the Encouragement Award.
DP: Which means you came in last and they wanted...
KW: Exactly. But I didn't know that. ... I didn't find that out until I got a little older.
DP: And then you were bummed out?
KW: Well, I was a little bit, but then I realized how happy I was that I'd actually won a trophy. It didn't matter.
DP: What's the first trophy I would see if I walked into your house.
KW: Probably the U.S. Open trophy right now.
DP: Is that what you're the most proud about?
DP: What's the first thing you bought that made you realize you were rich.
KW: My first house in Orlando.
DP: That's when you knew you'd made it?
KW: Yes. Well, because I'd only been in the States for two weeks and I'd made enough money to buy a house.
DP: What's the best thing about living in the United States?
KW: I think that, you know, out of all the countries in the world, Australia and the U.S. are the most similar and that even though I am a long way away from home, I don't feel like I'm that far away from home sometimes.
DP: Have you ever had a Vegemite sandwich?
KW: All the time.
DP: Karrie, I can't -- I nearly threw up when I had one of those.
KW: I love it.
DP: But what is it supposed to taste like? It just -- I nearly threw up.
KW: A lot of Americans who tried it don't like it either. I don't know. Until I had a few people try it, they said, oh, it's so salty. And I never thought of it as salty, but I guess that it is.
DP: Oh, man. It makes me sick just thinking about it right now.
KW: Oh, I love it -- you can go to a bakery and get an uncut, fresh loaf of bread and then cut a really thick slice and put lots of butter and Vegemite on it.
DP: Whatever happened to that band that gave us the Vegemite sandwich? Whatever happened to Men At Work?
KW: I don't know. But I'll tell you what. "I Come From a Land Down Under" played quite a lot at the Olympics last year.
DP: Did you go to the Olympics?
DP: Favorite moment?
KW: Well, I carried the Olympic torch, so that's probably my most favorite moment. But just being at the opening ceremony was pretty awesome.
DP: I thought Kathy Freeman's moment was spectacular.
KW: The torch was my favorite moment of actually being at the Olympics. I think that Kathy Freeman winning was awesome, but I was already back in the States for that.
DP: Strangest thing in your golf bag?
KW: Uh, strangest thing...
DP: Yes, if I was rummaging through there.
KW: Uh, I don't know. I don't really have anything strange in there. Maybe an old banana that has been left in there for a week.
DP: Or some bugs.
KW: Yes, exactly.
DP: What about these new women preset golf balls?
KW: I've heard a lot about them. I haven't hit one though.
DP: People are going crazy over these things.
KW: I know.
DP: It's OK for a man to buy a woman's golf ball.
KW: I guess. I've been pretty impressed to see these men hitting this ball that has "lady" written on it.
DP: Well, you know what? You have to have your wife go in and buy it.
DP: Yes, that's what I do.
KW: Well, you go in and say, oh, "I've heard these balls go so far. That's why I'm buying them."
DP: What is the biggest misconception about playing the game of golf?
KW: That it's easy. I think a lot of people see the professionals play and think that it's not as hard as it looks.
DP: You've been involved with the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. When did that come about?
KW: In my second year in '97 I was in the LPGA Skins game for the first time and had to pick a charity that I wanted my winnings to go to. My coach became a quadriplegic in 1990 and ever since then I'd always thought that I wanted to be involved somehow with a paralysis foundation. And at the moment that I was about to pick my charity for the Skins game, there was an article on Christopher Reeve in People magazine, and it explained how he'd started up this foundation ... so that's how I first became involved in it. I donated the money to it and then through that they wanted to become more involved with me.
DP: That's great.
DP: Last concert you went to?
KW: My last concert was Matchbox 20.
DP: Do people know that you're there, or do you go and try to hide?
KW: Uh, I try and hide.
DP: But are you goofy when you go to a concert?
KW: Not overly goofy. I guess, like, I dance to the music and sing and stuff. But I don't go to the mosh pit like all the crazies do.
DP: What's the one sport here you don't understand?
KW: Not many, really. I like watching sports all the time. I have season tickets to the Miami Dolphins ... probably something like lacrosse because it's not on TV very often.
DP: Men running around with sticks, you know...
KW: Beating each other.
DP: Yes. I thought you might like that. It's kind of like "Gladiator," isn't it?
DP: Did you cry when Dan Marino retired?
KW: It was pretty sad. I didn't actually get to see the whole thing on TV, but it was pretty sad.
DP: It's tough to be a Dolphin fan. You know that.
KW: Well, I'll tell you what. It was a lot easier then I thought it was going to be last year, because I didn't think they were going to do to well, but they did good.
DP: Have you played Augusta?
KW: I haven't.
DP: I played there six weeks ago. ... It's a pretty nice course.
KW: Yes, I've been there, but I have never played it.
DP: I would think they would let you on just to see how...
KW: I'd love to. I mean, it's the only course that I'd ever play at anytime and drop whatever I was doing to play.
DP: You've played most of these courses around the world, haven't you?
KW: Well, not really. I haven't played any over here really.
DP: You haven't played Pine Valley?
KW: No, I haven't played Pebble Beach or anything like that.
DP: Karrie, you've got to get out.
KW: I know. ... I've got plenty of years to do that and I'm on off time right now. I do not want to travel and play golf.
DP: I was going to say, the last thing you want to do on a vacation is to go play golf.
DP: Do you watch "Survivor," since it's in your home country?
KW: Not as much as last season.
DP: Do you have any idea where they are?
KW: They're only a couple of hours north of where I grew up.
DP: Do you consider yourself a survivor?
KW: No. Not at all. And to tell you the truth, I think it's a little setup. When they hiked across wherever they had to hike across to get to that river, I couldn't believe they jumped in the water. You just don't camp on the side of a river in that part of Australia, because you don't know if there are crocodiles there or snakes or whatever. So I think the critters have been removed.
DP: Critters removed?
KW: Yes ... crocodiles definitely have been removed from that river because there's just no way you'd jump in the river like that.
DP: When's the last time you saw a crocodile?
KW: I don't know. Probably in a zoo.
DP: Oh, so you didn't see them at home.
KW: No, no. Where I live we don't have kangaroos running around the backyard or anything like that.
DP: But that's what the ugly American thinks Australia is like, right?
KW: Possibly, yes.
DP: So you just called me an ugly American.
KW: No, definitely not.
DP: OK, I would -- I would call me an ugly American. So who's going to win?
KW: I thought the guy who caught on fire was going to win.
DP: But it's kind of hard to win "Survivor" when you catch on fire.
KW: Exactly ... I did hear that the first day in the hospital, the guy refused to eat because he thought he'd just get patched up and shipped back there.
DP: So he was still playing the game in the hospital.
KW: He wouldn't eat because he didn't want to feel like he was cheating. And then he found out a day later that he'd been voted off. And then he knew he couldn't win, so he started eating.