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Webb earns 39th LPGA win

The SportsXchange

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- For all the young talent there is in the game of golf, experience still counts for a lot.

On a blustery Sunday afternoon, Karrie Webb came from five shots off the pace to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

Webb fired a 3-under-par 68 at the Bay Course at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club near Atlantic City. She finished the 54 holes at 4-under 209.

China's Shanshan Feng, who started the final round with a three-shot lead, soared to a 75 and wound up alone in second place at 2-under 211. South Korea's Hee Young Park's closing 71 left her in third place at 212. Jenny Shin, another South Korean, was at 213.

It was the 39th LPGA victory for the 38-year old Webb, an LPGA Hall of Famer, and her first official win since March 2011.

"I'm really excited," she said. "It's a lot of hard work paying off sitting here, probably more hard work on the mental part of my game, but I've been working really hard on all aspects of my game. Just to do it in such tough conditions today, I'm really pleased."

Webb and the rest of the field were buffeted by winds that blew as high as 25 mph in the afternoon and sent scores climbing. The top three finishers were the only players in the field of 74 to finish the 54 holes under par.

The putter proved to be the most important club in Webb's bag Sunday. The Australian got off to a hot start by rolling in a 25-foot birdie putt at the par-4 second hole and followed up with a 10-foot eagle putt at the par-5 third.

At that point she moved her into a tie for the lead with Feng, who was playing two groups behind her and had double-bogeyed the second.

At the fourth, Webb saved par by making a 7-foot putt, one of six par chances she converted on putts of between four and eight feet.

"When I made that putt, I knew that I was feeling pretty good today," she said, "and just tried not to get ahead of myself."

Webb stumbled at the sixth when an errant chip shot led to a bogey, her only bogey of the day, but she remained in a tie for the lead at 3 under par with Feng, who double-bogeyed the fifth.

Feng admitted the wind caused her some difficulties.

"(Saturday) I played in the morning," she said, "so the wind wasn't blowing as hard, I would say maybe from 5 to 10 (mph), but today it was more like 20, with gusts to 25. So it was tough."

Webb pointed out that the Bay Course at Seaview plays tougher than its listed 6,155 yards might suggest.

"You look at the scorecard and it's not an exceptionally long golf course," she said, "but we never play the course with no wind. (Sunday's conditions) were probably extreme, but you know when you get here and you're playing the practice round that it's just a tricky golf course."

After her bogey at the sixth, Webb ran off 11 consecutive pars. She took the lead alone for the first time after Feng bogeyed the 11th and 13th.

Webb finished her week by hitting her approach to the par-5 18th inside five feet and making her birdie putt to increase her lead to two shots.

Feng got one of them back with a birdie at the 16th but missed the green at the par-5 17th and wound up with a bogey.

It was an emotional victory for Webb, whose grandmother has been ill and in the hospital. At one point this week, she considered withdrawing from the tournament and flying to Australia until her grandmother's condition improved.

"She's still in the hospital, but things are looking a little better than they did a couple days ago," Webb said. "So hopefully this will give her reason to feel better."

NOTES: Prior to this week, Webb's last official LPGA win came at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. She also won a tournament in her native Australia earlier this year. ... Webb's winning total tied for the highest in the history of the tournament, relative to par. Juli Inkster finished 4 under par for 54 holes in the inaugural event in 1986, which was also played at Seaview. ... Webb is the sixth LPGA Hall of Famer to win the ShopRite tournament. The others: Inkster, Betsy King, Annika Sorenstam, Nancy Lopez, and Se Ri Pak. ... Michelle Wie, who played with Webb on Sunday, shot a 74 and wound up tied for ninth at 215. ... Former world No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan shot an 80 on Sunday to finish her week tied for 69th place at 223.
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