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Just 18 holes between Webb, career Grand Slam at LPGA

Webb hangs on to 3-stroke lead

Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2001

WILMINGTON, Del. -- She struggled to find her swing. Par putts dipped in and out of the hole. The only thing that mattered to Karrie Webb at the end of a tough day in the LPGA Championship was the score.

She still had a three-stroke lead.

Now, all that stands in the way of a career Grand Slam is 18 holes.

''I'm by no means getting ahead of myself,'' the 26-year-old Australian said Saturday after playing solidly the final five holes for a 1-under 70. ''I don't believe I've won this tournament, and I won't believe it until I have a putt on the last hole to do that.''

Webb was at 12-under 201, three strokes ahead of hard-charging Maria Hjorth of Sweden and Laura Diaz, the daughter of a north Florida teaching pro who is trying to become the first player in three years to make her first LPGA Tour victory a major.

Laura Davies recovered from a double bogey on No. 14 to finish at 70 and was four strokes back, still in contention to pick up a major championship that would get the English star into the Hall of Fame.

''I've got to shoot really low tomorrow, and if I do I can win,'' Davies said. ''That's all you can ask for in a golf tournament.''

Webb had it relatively easy three weeks ago when she repeated as U.S. Women's Open champion, leading by five strokes after 54 holes and cruising to a seven-stroke victory.

Five players are within five strokes of the lead this time, and Webb will have the added pressure of trying to become the youngest woman to win all four majors. Mickey Wright was 27 when she completed the Grand Slam in 1962.

Only three others have won the LPGA's career slam -- Louise Suggs, Pat Bradley and Juli Inkster, who picked up the final piece at DuPont Country Club two years ago.

Tiger Woods was the youngest player to win his tour's all four majors, doing it at St. Andrews last year at age 24.

''It's in the back of my mind,'' Webb said. ''The main thing is to win the tournament.''

She's in good position to do that. Webb has won four of the last seven majors, and is 14-8 when taking a lead into the final round, including 3-0 in the majors.

''Looks like we're in trouble,'' cracked Wendy Ward, who had a 71 and joined Davies at 205. ''Par is your buddy out there, but right now we're going to need birdies to catch her.''

It can be done.

Hjorth and Diaz each finished strong and had a 5-under 66. Diaz had a string of four straight birdies on the back nine, none longer than 10 feet, while Hjorth made five birdies over the final 10 holes and will play with Webb in the final pairing.

''At least there's still a chance,'' Hjorth said.

Webb would have preferred to turn another major into a runaway -- she has won her last three majors by a combined 23 strokes.

Instead, she found herself clinging to a one-stroke lead early on the back nine until Davies caught a wicked lie in the rough on No. 14, shanked a chip and took double bogey.

Playing two groups behind, Webb made a hard-breaking par putt from 8 feet on No. 13, then holed a 20-footer for birdie to restore her three-stroke lead.

''That was a big momentum putt there,'' Webb said of her par on the 13th. ''Not necessarily because I had a lot of forward momentum, but it kept me in the lead at that stage. I could have easily lost my patient. Having the lead was a bonus.''

Buick Classic

HARRISON, N.Y. -- It might take a few days to find out if Tiger Woods can come from behind to win the Buick Classic.

Heavy rain left parts of the already soggy Westchester Country Club under water, forcing postponement of the third round.

If the round can be played Sunday -- there was more rain in the forecast, plus fog -- officials said they'd complete the tournament on Monday. But PGA Tour tournament director Slugger White said a Tuesday finish was not out of the question.

Sergio Garcia and Scott Hoch were tied for the second-round lead at 7-under 135, one shot ahead of Mark Wiebe. Woods, who avoided the cut by shooting a 66 in the second round he completed Friday, was tied for 30th -- six shots back.

FleetBoston Classic

CONCORD, Mass. -- Mike Hill shot a 6-under-par 66 in the second round of the FleetBoston Classic, taking a one-stroke as he goes for his first senior victory in five years.

At 62 years, 6 months, Hill would be the third-oldest golfer to win on the senior tour and the oldest since Gary Player won the 1998 Northville Long Island Classic at 62 years, 9 months.

Defending champion Larry Nelson, the first-round leader with a 65, shot a 69 in the second round -- bogeying the 17th hole to drop to 10 under and finish the day one stroke behind Hill.



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