Karrie Webb is making her own run for a No. 1 world ranking after another astonishing win in America today.
The 39-year-old Australian conjured one of her greatest rounds, a nine-under-par 63 at the Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix, Arizona, to reel in the leaders and win the LPGA Founders Cup, her 41st win on the LPGA Tour and her 53rd around the world.
It was a bitter-sweet day for Australian golf. Earlier Adam Scott had tossed away his shot at a No. 1 world ranking by fading on the final day of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
But Webb, ranked No. 6 in the world, will likely climb into the top five on the Rolex Rankings tomorrow after her second win of the season. Remarkably she has never been officially ranked No. 1 in the world, because the Rolex Rankings were not introduced until 2006, and while she has generally been in the top 10 or thereabouts, others have been ahead of her, most recently Inbee Park, the South Korean putting genius. Webb would clearly have been No. 1 in the world in the 1997-2001 period when she dominated the game, but there were no official rankings for women then.
Today the Queenslander bolted through the back nine in 30, putting the exclamation mark on her round with a five-metre birdie at the par-four 18th hole, then signed and waited for the other players to finish. A host of them had opportunities, such as Azahara Munoz of Spain, and Koreans Amy Yang, Mirim Lee and Lydia Ko. All four of those players had putts for a playoff on the 18th green, but none could make it.
Meanwhile Webb was on the range, thinking she would have more to do. "I stood on the 10th tee and was like 'what will it take to get to 20-under'?'' Webb had said after her round. "I had to shoot 29 and I've taken 30. I'd say that'll come up a little short, but I had a go.''
Once Ko missed from long range at the 18th, Webb knew she had another title. "Like I said, I stood on 10 tee and I thought '20 (under) would have a chance'. Nineteen, I just didn't think (would win). I thought it'd be a playoff if anything not standing here as a winner.''
Webb had started the day in 20th position, six back from the lead held by Ko, the world No. 4. But none of the leaders made ground, and she was relentless out on the course, swooping at the finish and hitting a beautiful iron shot to the 18th, making the putt when it was needed. As it turned out, it was enough.
Webb won the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at Victoria in February, her 40th LPGA career win and the 52nd of her career around the world. She has since thrown away another winning opportunity for a win in Singapore but the veteran is having her best year in some time, projected to move to the top of the tour's Race to the CME Globe rankings.
Webb, a World Golf Hall of Fame member, has won seven major championships and is arguably Australia's greatest-ever golfer. Turning 40 in December this year, she intends remaining on tour at least until the Olympic Games in 2016, before considering stepping away from the travelling roadshow.
She will be one of the favourites for Kraft Nabisco Championship, the season's first major, in less than two weeks' time.