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Karrie Webb the other "W" in world golf

It's an intriguing idea, putting Karrie Webb in a room with Tiger Woods and letting them compare notes.

Then again, no. The two of them are so far and away better than everybody they play against, it wouldn't be fair to let them swap strategy.

"People talk about Tiger like he's a god and nobody can catch him and this and that. And I feel like Karrie has played the same way,'' Meg Mallon said. "She's played so well. She's proven herself every time.

"I hope you all give her the credit she deserves. Sometimes, when a player makes it look as easy as she does, it's hard to appreciate how great she is.''

Mallon should know. She was there, walking right alongside, as Webb won the U.S. Women's Open by five shots Sunday. The victory was Webb's third major championship, and gave her the points she needs for the Hall of Fame. She'll have to wait until after the 2005 season to be inducted, though, needing to play at least 10 years on the LPGA Tour.

"I've got far, far more golf to play,'' Webb said. "The fact that I've achieved this so soon is just a bonus, I guess. Everything from now on is a bonus for me.''

While comparisons to Woods make Webb uncomfortable, they're getting more and more appropriate with each victory. Roughly the same age -- Webb is a year older at 25 -- they've dominated their respective tours in a manner that simply can't be matched.

In just 4 1/2 years on the LPGA Tour, Webb has won 21 times. Woods has won -- surprise -- 21 PGA Tour events in 4 1/2 years. They've each won three of the last four majors.

On Sunday, about a half-hour before Webb teed off, Woods became the youngest player ever to complete the career Grand Slam when he won the British Open. Webb now needs only the LPGA Championship to complete her modern-day slam, and she can take until 2009 and STILL be the youngest player to do it.

"There's a sense of fate in it all,'' said Cristie Kerr, who tied for second with Mallon five shots back. "When people tee it up with Tiger, they're playing for second. When Karrie plays well, we kind of all feel like that.''

Like Woods, Webb is so talented and powerful she doesn't even need her best game to win. She actually played her worst round of the week Sunday, yet still won the trophy handily.

The two also share the same killer instinct. A double bogey on the par-3 seventh hole followed by a drive into the rough left Webb vulnerable, and she seemed to be playing worse with every shot.

"I was talking to myself, just saying, 'Play smart and hang in there, you're still leading the golf tournament,' " Webb said. "That was the ultimate thing. I was still leading and I had to remember that.''

After dropping into a tie with Mallon on the ninth, Webb made her move on No. 10. Seeing that Mallon needed three putts for a bogey, Webb rammed her 10-footer in for birdie.

Long before she made her triumphant walk up the 18th fairway, the trophy was hers.

"That's Karrie,'' Mallon said. "When she smells blood, she's like an animal.''

There is one big difference between Webb and Woods, though. Woods was raised to be a golfer. Everything that's happening to him now is part of a grand plan devised long ago.

Webb, on the other hand, is still amazed by the path her life has taken.

"Sometimes I don't understand why I'm sitting here. I think I was given a gift to play golf and to be mentally strong,'' she said. "I still can't believe that I've achieved what I have. It's like I've lived a dream for about five years now.

"It just keeps continuing to happen,'' she said. "I'm just going to go with it for as long as it lasts.''

 

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