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BOCA RATON, Fla. – The next time you are cruising along the Intracoastal and spot a 32-foot Intrepid navigating the smooth waters, check out who is piloting the vessel.
It just might be a seven-time major champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member who is in the conversation of the greatest female golfers of all time.
Karrie Webb has been taking advantage of the South Florida lifestyle for 23 years, whether it is fishing off her boat or docking it at Two Georges or Prime Catch or any other waterfront restaurant. The Aussie golfer settled on Boynton Beach in 1999 and has lived in the same house since, which is longer than any other place she has called home.
“It’s definitely as much home as it is when I go back home to Australia and the same sort of weather where I grew up, so that wasn’t a huge change,” said Webb, a member of Pine Tree Golf Club and an occasional playing partner of fellow club member and former U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland.
“I’ve got a little bit more time on my hands to figure out different stuff, different hobbies.”
A bit more time, but not totally free.
Karrie Webb tees off on the 3rd hole during the second round of the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament at Country Club of Charleston. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Webb, 47, is playing her first LPGA Tour event in more than 15 months this week at the Gainbridge LPGA. The LPGA’s career second-leading money winner tees off Thursday at 12:40 p.m. at Boca Rio.
Webb enjoys her time on the water and her freedom to visit her family in Australia. It’s much more fun than devoting most of her time to the tour. She has entered just 12 events in the last three years, none in 2021.
And she will use this weekend as a gauge to see how her body and mind handle the rigors of playing a competitive tournament, which will determine how many events she enters moving forward.
But after dealing with neck issues and realizing she was limited in the time she could spend hitting drivers on the range, Webb sounds like a woman who is very comfortable with this life.
“I chose golf over life events for 25 years, and, you know, I want to put life events ahead of golf,” she said Tuesday. “I think when you’re in the heat of golf you think you’re missing out on stuff, or at least I did towards the end of playing full time, and I just want to have a better balance.
“This week is perfect. It’s convenient that the tournament is here where I’ve lived for 23 years.”
DENHAM, ENGLAND – JULY 28: Karrie Webb of Australia poses with the trophy after winning the ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters at Buckinghamshire Golf Club on July 28, 2013 in Denham, England. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Top 10 in tour wins, majors
Webb was at the top of the game for nearly two decades with 56 professional wins, including 41 on the LPGA Tour (tied for 10th all-time). Among those were seven majors (tied for seventh), starting with the 1999 du Maurier Classic which lead to her first Player of the Year title, something she captured again in 2000. She won four majors (two each year) in 2000 and 2001 and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2005.
Since reducing her schedule — the last time she played in at least 10 events was 19 in 2017 — she has learned what she misses about the lifestyle, and what she never wants to go back to again.
“I think after 20-plus years of lugging your clubs and tour bag around and a heavy suitcase from shuttle busses to the car rental place to the hotel, it adds up over the years doing that all on your own,” she said. “Those aren’t the highlights of playing on the LPGA but they’re all part and parcel of it. Those are definitely not the things that I miss.
“I miss seeing all the people and the banter on the range. Those are the things you think when you’re in the heat of it that you’re not going to miss, but you actually miss the most … apart from the competition.”
Webb later added the grind of the hours on the range and the putting green to the list.
“I really don’t have the desire to put the work in, and to even come close to competing out here you have to be able to put the work in,” she said. “The standard just gets better and better every year.”
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Which, after a Hall of Fame career that spanned two decades, is the way it should be. Webb will enter events along the way knowing the expectations are not what they were. Now, it’s about having some fun and being a resource for those who strive to have the type of storied career she enjoyed.
And something else Webb does not miss … the scrutiny and being in the spotlight, which is something she tried to avoid throughout her career.
At her height, Webb was a private person. For years she would decline photo shoots at her home by saying it was under construction.
“I had a couple of camera crews show up on my front doorstep,” she said. “I built a fence so they couldn’t get in.”
Since, she said, it’s rare for her to be recognized when she’s not playing golf especially when she is out doing what she loves, cruising the Intracoastal Waterway.