Webb, Davis take solid steps toward history

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2001

WILMINGTON, Del. -- Karrie Webb and Laura Davies played in the same group, posted the same score and were pleased with how they started in the LPGA Championship on Thursday. The similarities don't end there.

History is on the line for both at DuPont Country Club -- for Webb, a chance to become the youngest woman to complete the career Grand Slam; for Davies, the two points she needs to get into the Hall of Fame.

After a 4-under 67 left them two strokes behind Wendy Ward, both shared one other goal. They're trying not took too far ahead.

''Even though if I win this week I get the career Grand Slam, you can't think about the end until it happens,'' Webb said. ''I shot a good round today, but I've got three long days to go before I even think about stuff like that.''

Ditto for Davies, who rebounded from a low point in her career by winning two weeks ago and now looms as a favorite on a course where she has won twice.

''I've had a great start, which is all you can ask for,'' Davies said. ''But I won't be thinking about the Hall of Fame. I'm trying to win the LPGA Championship first and foremost, and if it happens, then double the celebration.''

Not if Ward can help it.

Thanks to a stretch of four straight birdies -- the last one nearly a hole-in-one -- Ward started out with a 6-under 65 for a one-stroke lead over Akiko Fukushima and Becky Iverson.

For Ward, it's a matter of not looking at the past.

A year ago, she was in contention for her first major championship when she faced a par putt on No. 13. She backed off, realizing that the label of her Callaway ball was slightly askew and that the ball had moved after address by a fraction of an inch.

She gave herself a one-stroke penalty and missed a playoff by one stroke.

''In major championships, it all comes down to one shot,'' Ward said. ''It was just unfortunate. There's nothing I can do about it this year, so I've kind of moved past it.''

If one shot is all it takes, one round proves nothing at a major championship, and there is plenty of golf to be played.

Annika Sorenstam is back in control of her game and was at 68, her lone bogey coming when a blast of wind from the approaching thunderstorms carried her 6-iron well past the green on the 184-yard 13th.

Also at 68 were Helen Alfredsson and Rachel Teske, who won last week in France.

Ward was not immune to mistakes. She pulled a 3-wood into the pond on No. 3 and had to scramble for a bogey, then avoided a potential disaster by doing her own math.

When Ward turned in her card, a volunteer added the scores and came up with 69.

''I said, 'That's a pretty good score, but it's not mine,''' Ward said.

The 65 was easy to remember, especially since it was her best start ever at the McDonald's LPGA Championship.

The same goes for Webb.

The 26-year-old Aussie, coming off her second straight U.S. Women's Open title, needs only this major to become the fifth player to complete the LPGA Grand Slam. DuPont has been somewhat of a mystery to Webb, but not on Thursday.

She started out strong, splitting every fairway and giving herself ample birdie chances. Webb was 3 under through her first five holes before losing her focus on the back nine on a hot, sticky day in Delaware.

''I've had harder days out here, but through the middle holes it was so hot, my mind wandered on a couple of shots,'' Webb said. ''Fortunately, they didn't cost me anything.''

She snapped out of it with a 5-iron from 198 yards to reach the green on the par-5 16th, then rolled in a 35-foot putt across the green for an eagle to get to 4 under.

''That was a bit of a bonus,'' Webb said.

Buick Classic

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Rain got the best of Tiger Woods in the Buick Classic, limiting him to only two shots on the waterlogged Westchester Country Club course.

Woods, coming off a disappointing 12th-place finish in the U.S. Open, came up short on the par-3 first hole, chipped within a few feet of the cup and marked his ball as the first of a series of downpours halted play.

Despite several false starts, Woods and the other players on the course Thursday afternoon did not play again. One last heavy shower at 6:30 p.m. convinced tour officials to finish the first round Friday morning.

Scott Hoch, who finished 16 holes, was the leader at 4 under. Gabriel Hjertstedt, who also finished 16 holes, was at 3 under with Mark Wiebe, who played 15 holes, and Brian Watts, who played 14.

Great North Open

HEXHAM, England -- Daren Lee of England shot a 6-under-par 66 to take a two-stroke lead over countryman Jamie Spence and Scotland's Andrew Coltart in the Great North Open.

Defending champion Lee Westwood of England, fifth in the world ratings, tumbled to an 81 that included three double bogeys and a three bogeys over his final seven holes.



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