Annika Sorenstam. Karrie Webb.
For a while there, you couldn't tell them apart.
As recently as 2000, Webb was the difference-maker on the LPGA Tour, becoming the first player in a decade to win seven titles in a season. The previous year, Webb had 22 top-10 finishes.
Two years ago, Webb became - at 27 years, seven months and 21 days - the second-youngest player to win six majors. Last year, she surpassed $9 million in career earnings faster than any other player in LPGA history.
Webb's talent is so immense - she strikes the ball effortlessly, accurately and with a pronounced pop in her clubs - the tendency is to expect a repeat of her 1999 and 2000 seasons at every tournament.
It's no different this week at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic. You keep waiting for Webb,
No. 12 on this year's money list with one tournament victory, to whup the rest of the field.
Webb could break out at anytime. Heck, it could happen in today's final round at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
"I'm not out of it," said Webb, who fired a two-over 73 yesterday.
Webb trails leader Karen Stupples by five strokes. She knows it could have been worse. A lot worse.
"The front nine was just horrendous. I couldn't get anything going," said Webb, who recorded a double-bogey at No. 2 as well as bogeys at 4, 5 and 7.
At five-over, Webb changed strategy. No, she didn't switch her driver or tinker with her putter.
Webb did something so incredibly simple that she probably wonders why she didn't think of it earlier.
"Actually, I didn't get mad today," Webb said. "I kept trying to work it out. I tried to give myself chances on the back nine.
"I think some days you need to get fired up. But today, I didn't need to use the energy. I didn't get mad at myself. Just whatever happens, happens, I guess. That's the way I approached it, and obviously it helped me play well on the back nine."
After saving par at No. 9, Webb seemed to regain her focus. She knocked down three birdies to salvage her round with a 3-under 34 on the back nine.
Webb delivered an absolutely gorgeous third shot at the par-5 17th that, even if you were attending your first professional golf tournament, just by the sound of the club against the ball, you knew it had been struck about as well as a golf ball can possibly be hit.
The ball landed approximately a foot from the hole, leaving Webb with a tap-in for birdie.
"I'm putting well this week," Webb said. "I haven't putted consistently well all year. It's good to see some putts go in."
Webb understands the ups and downs of golf. How it's an incredibly fickle game.
How you can strike the ball the same way every time - or at least you think you do - but meet with such varied results.
How Webb can go from player of the year in 1999 and 2000 to Sorenstam Lite.
"I'm working on a few things with my swing, and they come and go every week," Webb said. "I think I'm in a situation where I'm about a year away from really nailing down a few things.
"Not that I can't go out and shoot a low round tomorrow. It's there. It's just not consistent."
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