Webb goes wire-to-wire at Kingsmill

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WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) – Karrie Webb stumbled a bit for the first time in two days in the Michelob Ultra Open before rebounding quickly after her mistakes and a long rain delay to beat Lorena Ochoa and Hee-Won Han by seven shots.

The victory Sunday was the second of the year for Webb, a two-time player of the year trying to rebound from her first winless season. She finished with a 1-under 70 for a 14-under 270 total and became the third player to win wire-to-wire this year.

Ochoa finished second for the fourth time in her last five starts and the fifth time in eight events this season. She also won in Las Vegas.

Webb, meanwhile, also won the season’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco. She again showed that she’s getting back the game that once made her the dominant player in women’s golf. but she said it took a long time to get comfortable Sunday.

“I think I was nervous probably until the 16th hole,” she said, recalling a 6-iron into stiff wind from 173 yards to a pin tucked in the left corner on the par 4. She hit her shot to 15 feet, then rolled in the putt to effectively seal the victory.

Ochoa knew it was over long before Webb.

“When she made a mistake, made a bogey, right after she made a birdie,” Ochoa said. “She never gave any room or hoping to get her. She played very solid, very consistent.”

After a tap-in par on the final hole, Webb was hugging her caddie, Mike Paterson, when Paterson’s wife, Tanya, and two other caddies ran out and sprayed her with beer.

Ochoa closed with a 72, failing after an opening birdie to keep the pressure on the Australian. Han shot a 70 and Pat Hurst and defending champion Cristie Kerr, who started the day tied with Ochoa five shots back, tied for fourth with Paula Creamer. Hurst and Kerr both had closing 73s, and Creamer shot 69.

Play was halted for 1 hour, 42 minutes midway through the leaders’ round by rain, and once it resumed, Webb put it away. Her par on the par-4 10th came as Ochoa was making double bogey, putting the lead at seven strokes with eight holes to play.

Webb cruised to her 19th career victory in 30 tries when leading going into the final round. It was her 32nd career victory, and Ochoa’s third runner-up here.

Webb credits two changes with sparking her turnaround – one to her swing after 21/2 years of work, the other to her expectations after seeking perfection in the past.

Now, she worries less about style points and more about scoring, although she was almost robotically steady throughout four rounds on the River Course at Kingsmill.

Over four rounds, she had just six bogeys, three of them coming in an opening round 66 when she also had eight birdies. She finished with 21 birdies for the tournament.

When she needed three shots from the front fringe and made bogey at the par-4 6th on Sunday, it was her first in 32 holes. Playing partners Ochoa and Hurst both also made bogey on the hole, allowing Webb to maintain her six-stroke advantage.

Webb lost two shots off the lead on the next two holes with a par and bogey, but her birdie at the par-4 9th and Ochoa’s double at the par-4 10th ended the suspense.

Notes: Annika Sorenstam, who didn’t make the cut here, won wire-to-wire in Mexico and Ochoa did it at Las Vegas. … Kerr and Mi Hyun Kim, who tied for seventh, have both finished in the top 10 in all four years at Kingsmill. … Former champions Grace Park and Se Ri Pak never contended this week. Pak finished 25th, and Park tied for 51st.

AP-ES-05-14-06 1816EDT

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