Originally created 03/02/00

All eyes on Webb in Hawaii



KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii -- The LPGA Tour is back in Hawaii, and 131 other players are casting a wary eye at Karrie Webb.

They have good reason.

Webb is a perfect in three tournaments this year, winning The Office Depot, the Australian Women's Open and last weekend the Australian Ladies Masters. By taking the Masters, she became one of just six players to win the same tournament three years in a row.

Now, Webb brings her game to the inaugural Takefuji Classic, a 54-hole event at the Kona Country Club on the island of Hawaii.

Despite her meteoric rise on the Tour -- 18 victories, two money titles and 22 Hall of Fame points -- the 25-year-old Australian is still learning the game.

"I think golf is a game where there is always room for improvement," she said. "You can never master it, no matter how good you are playing. I work hard on my game, and I know there are areas that can get better.

"Of course, when you've just won three times, it's hard to see what needs to improve right away."

Her numbers are staggering.

In addition to her past accomplishments, Webb already has taken the lead on this year' money list with $225,000. She tied Annika Sorenstam's record for being the fastest player to earn $200,000 in a single season in three events. She has won three and finished second in the past four official LPGA events dating to last October.

Her biggest challenge should come from a player on the other end of the spectrum.

Betsy King, who's already in the Hall of Fame, proved she can still win on the Tour when she took the Hawaiian Ladies Open two weeks ago. It was her first victory since 1997.

"Winning last month felt good because I've struggled the past couple of years," King said. "As I've said, this year was going to determine whether I kept playing because I wanted to remain competitive.

"I didn't want to be one of those golfers who hangs around. You sometimes wonder if you're ever going to win again. Starting early in the year with a win gives me some confidence."

But King knows the focus will be on Webb.

"I played with her in the first tournament she played in as an LPGA professional and I think she finished seventh," King said. "She was good then and she has only gotten better. Karrie works on her game, but she also has a tremendous amount of natural ability. I don't see any reason why she can't continue."

The field also includes Hall of Famers Patty Sheehan, Beth Daniel and Pat Bradley with a generous sprinkling of international players, among them Sorenstam of Sweden and Akiko Fukushima, who is considered Japan's best player.