Webb increases lead to 5 at Kingsmill


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) – Methodical, steady and not at all flashy.

Karrie Webb was all of those things, again, Saturday in the third round of the Michelob Ultra Open, looking more and more like the player who once ruled women’s golf.

“I felt pretty in control today,” Webb said, adding her comfort level and confidence haven’t been this high since she won easily in Chicago in 2004.

A day after top-ranked Annika Sorenstam missed the cut in an LPGA Tour event for the first time since 2002, Webb shot a 5-under 66 for a 12-under 200 total and a five-stroke lead.

The Hall of Famer with 31 victories – including this year’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco – will try to hold off Pat Hurst, Lorena Ochoa and Cristie Kerr on Sunday in the final round on the River Course at Kingsmill.

History seems to be on Webb’s side. The Australian has held the lead going into the final round 29 times in her career, winning 18 times.

She’ll play the same way she has all week.

“That’s what you’ve got to do. I mean, five shots can be gone in a couple of holes if you don’t go out there with the same trust that I have played with,” Webb said.

With Hurst closing in, Webb asserted herself with three consecutive birdies on the front nine Saturday, starting when she made a 7-foot putt on the par-3 fifth hole. She hit her approach to about 8 feet on the par-4 sixth and made that, then hit her third on the par-5 seventh to about 10 feet, rolling that one in, too, to reach 11 under.

Two more birdies on the back nine, and a double bogey for Hurst on the par-4 18th hole, gave the two-time player of the year a huge cushion heading into the final round.

“It’s not my tournament yet,” Webb said.

Hurst shot a 69, her third consecutive round in the 60s – and third with a one-hole blip – while Ochoa surged with a 5-under front nine on her way to a 65.

Kerr, playing in the final group, shot a 70. She had three bogeys and four birdies, the last on a 10-foot putt at No. 18.

“There’s a big difference between six shots and five shots,” she said.

But all the chasers expect the task to be difficult with the way Webb is playing.

“I need to play aggressive tomorrow,” Ochoa, the tour’s money leader, said after the lowest round of the tournament. “I need to have a good start just to kind of get a number on the board, maybe put a little pressure on her and we’ll see what happens.”

Hee-Won Han was alone in fifth, seven shots back, after a 69, and Jeong Jang was sixth at 208 after a 70. Paula Creamer was tied for seventh at 209.

Notes: Helen Alfredsson is at even-par 213, tied for 22nd, after a 69 capped by an eagle on the par-4, 348-yard 18th. She holed an 8-iron from 149 yards. … With the forecast calling for rain Sunday afternoon, LPGA officials decided to use threesomes and start on both tees Sunday, with the leaders teeing off at 10:01 a.m.