Kellogg win Webb's second in two years

Updated: June 6, 2004, 8:29 PM ET
Associated Press

AURORA, Ill. -- This was the Karrie Webb of old.

Hitting nearly every fairway, Webb played a bogey-free final round to win for the first time this year, a five-shot victory Sunday at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic.

The Australian star had a two-stroke lead to open the last round and never faltered, making five birdies in a 67 to finish at 16-under 200 and hold off Annika Sorenstam and two others.

It was Webb's 30th victory on the LPGA Tour, but just her second in the last two years. The 29-year-old who once dominated the tour dropped to 11th on the money list last year -- the first time in her career she failed to finish in the top five.

"It doesn't get old, put it that way," Webb said. "When you're playing as well as I was in (1999-2000) you tend to think that it's just always going to happen, you're always going to win no matter what your game is like.

"It's probably something I won't take for granted as much." Webb charged to the lead with a second-round 66 and never let up in the 54-hole event, running away from second-place finishers Sorenstam, Siew-Ai Lim and Jeong Jang.

Webb got going with consecutive birdies on the front nine and took a four-shot lead over Jang with nine holes to play.

On the par-4 sixth, Webb pulled her drive into thick rough but hit a great approach onto the green and made a 20-foot putt for birdie. Her drive was initially headed for the trees, but kicked out toward the fairway before settling in the rough.

It was just the break Webb needed.

"That was huge," she said. "At that stage I hadn't really gotten into my round and I was thinking too much. That drive was my wake-up call."

That was the only fairway Webb missed all day.

The few times Webb found trouble, she was able to escape it without dropping a shot. On the par-4 16th, Webb hit her approach in the sand but came out to 15 feet and saved par.

Webb earned $180,000 with the victory, her first since the John Q. Hammons Hotels Classic last year.

Webb began the day with a two-shot lead over Jill McGill and Seol-An Jeon. Neither posed much of a challenge.

McGill fell apart early, three-putting on No. 1, a par-5, for a bogey and hitting her driver in the lake on 5 for a double-bogey. McGill, who had two eagles in the second round to get in contention, had a final-round 3-over 75 and is still searching for her first win after nine years on tour.

Jeon, a 22-year-old rookie from South Korea, had two bogeys on the front nine and never rallied to finish the round 1-over.

Sorenstam couldn't make an early run either after opening the day four shots behind Webb. She parred the front nine, birdied the par-4 10th but was six strokes back at that point.

"When you're chasing somebody by four, you need some good breaks. You need some momentum early on so you can get going," Sorenstam said. "I just didn't have that today."

Always a crowd favorite, Sorenstam was still one of the biggest attractions of the final round. She ran away with the inaugural Kellogg-Keebler Classic, winning by 11 strokes. She won by three shots last year.

Sorenstam won last week at the Corning Classic, her third victory of the year. With a solid second here, Sorenstam said her game is coming together nicely heading into next week's LPGA Championship at Wilmington, Del.

"It's definitely a momentum builder," the six-time major champion said. "I feel very good about my game. I've played well there in the past. I don't think I could have asked for a better preparation."

Webb, who also has six majors, was the LPGA Player of the Year in 1999 and 2000 and was No. 1 in earnings three of her first five years on tour. Her play fell off noticeably the past two years, and she won just once last year and dropped to 11th in earnings.

Dealing with failure wasn't easy for Webb. After winning so often so early in her career, it's easy to understand why.

"I just started off winning. I never had to learn how to get to that point and to learn how to deal with that," she said. "Probably the worst thing for me was that I had nowhere to go but down."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press