Meunier-Lebouc 18 under; Klein gets Solheim berth

Updated: September 1, 2002, 9:39 PM ET
Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Patricia Meunier-Lebouc made sure she didn't beat herself in the State Farm Classic.

In her second season on tour, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc won her first LPGA title Sunday.

The 29-year-old Frenchwoman won her first LPGA Tour title Sunday, shooting a 5-under 67 for a two-stroke victory.

''I've worked so hard and had to let it go and just make the score happen,'' Meunier-Lebouc said.

Playing her second season on the LPGA Tour after winning five times on the Ladies European Tour, Meunier-Lebouc had an 18-under 270 total on the Rail Golf Course.

''I won a couple, five times already, but it was very different,'' she said. ''I was going through it very well. I was really feeling inside myself the fact that I was playing well and that I could just rip at it and be confident.''

South Korean stars Se Ri Pak and Mi Hyun Kim tied for second. Pak shot a 65, and Kim, the 1999 tournament winner who has two victories this year, had a 69 after beginning the round tied for the lead with Meunier-Lebouc at 13 under.

''She played so well, which was good for me,'' Meunier-Lebouc said of Kim. ''At least I was with her and we were just fighting both together. It was much better for us to be together.''

Emilee Klein played her way onto the U.S. Solheim Cup team, closing with a 69 to tie for fourth at 15 under with rookie Beth Bauer (67) and England's Laura Davies (67).

''I've worked very hard this week and this just proves that hard work pays off,'' said Klein, one of five first-time Solheim Cup players on the 12-player team.

Klein, who began the week 13th in the race for the 10 automatic spots, jumped to 10th, with the top 11 earning shots because No. 5 Dottie Pepper is sidelined by a shoulder injury. Patty Sheehan completed the squad by adding Kelly Robbins, who dropped to 12th when Klein moved up, and Pat Hurst as captain's picks.

Juli Inkster, Laura Diaz, Rosie Jones, Michele Redman, Cristie Kerr, Meg Mallon, Beth Daniel, Wendy Ward and Kelli Kuehne also earned automatic spots on the U.S. team for the Sept. 20-22 matches against Europe at Interlachen in Edina, Minn.

Coming back from a mid-winter back injury, Meunier-Lebouc earned $165,000 and became the 11th first-time winner in the event.

''This year has not been easy for me,'' she said.

Kim had four birdies on the front nine to take a one-stroke lead, but Meunier-Lebouc pulled even with a 25-foot birdie putt from the back fringe on No. 13.

Meunier-Lebouc pulled ahead when Kim bogeyed the 414-yard 14th after hitting her approach shot from the rough over the green.

Both players birdied the par-5 15th, and Meunier-Lebouc closed with three straight pars, while Kim bogeyed the 18th to fall two strokes back.

Bauer had a brief share of the lead after a birdie on No. 15, but followed with a double bogey on the 163-yard 16th after hitting into the water hazard right of the pin.

Kim kept herself in contention on No. 16 with an explosion shot from beneath the lip of a bunker that wound up a foot from the pin. She also saved par from a bunker on No. 17, but couldn't do it again on the final hole after her 6-iron approach finished in a greenside bunker.

''I was angered at the course,'' said Kim, who earned $86,666 and also took the $100,000 top prize in the 10-event State Farm Series.

Pak finished second in the competition to earn $50,000. Meunier-Lebouc was third, earning $30,000.


Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press

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