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Published: Thursday, 8/5/2004

Webb is not obsessed with being No. 1

No. 1.

It is one of the most overused declarations in sports, often trumpeted by athletes and teams who have no business doing so.

Almost every Tom, Dick and Mary - who win even the smallest and most obscure of sporting competitions from junior high to the professional ranks - seem quick to throw the index finger skyward to boast that they are No. 1.

But few athletes or teams truly ever are in fact No. 1 at what they do.

One of those is LPGA veteran Karrie Webb, who was the top female golfer in the world (Rolex Player of the Year) in 1999 and 2000, and who hasn't strayed far from the pinnacle since.

Webb, 29, a native of Queensland, Australia, is closing in on a career milestone - $10 million in career LPGA earnings - that only one other player, Annika Sorenstam, has reached.

At $9,946,911, Webb can join Sorenstam - a six-time Rolex Player of the Year, including three years running - by finishing among the top four players in this week's Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.

The top spots are worth $165,000, $100,458, $72,875 and $56,375, respectively, in this $1.1 million purse tournament at Highland Meadows.

"I knew that this year I had a chance to do it," Webb said. "It's not really a goal you set out to do, but it's nice to know that I have a chance."

What is the difference between being number one and being a top-20 also-ran?

"Not much," Webb said. "I think that's the lesson I've learned, that you can be really close and you've only got to improve by two shots or four shots a tournament.

"That's the difference between winning and finishing 15th. It's a very fine line and there's not a lot wrong [with her game]. I've just got to get things going and get a little confidence back."

Webb, who begins her Farr quest on the No. 10 tee at noon today, isn't focusing on dollar milestones or on unseating Sorenstam as the world's best female golfer.

"I'm not obsessed with being number one," Webb said. "To have achieved it [in 1999 and 2000] has been the highlight of my career probably. But, if I never get back there, it's not going to be the end of my career."

During her two-year reign at No. 1, Webb posted 13 tour victories (seven in 2000), including three majors, and collected $3,468,812.

Since the end of the 2000 season, Webb, who now resides in Boynton Beach, Fla., has recorded seven wins, including three more triumphs at majors.

Steve Junga

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