Karrie Webb posted a final-round 63, keyed by a back-nine 31, then watched as the field couldn’t catch her in the LPGA’s JTBC Founders Cup on Sunday in Phoenix.
Five players tied for second, including Lydia Ko – who could have forced a playoff with a birdie on any of her last three holes and stretched the drama to the 18th before missing out – and Stacy Lewis. But Webb’s lead, on the strength of the day’s low number, held up.
Here are 5 Things to know from Wildfire Golf Club:
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1. WEBB WINS AGAIN: After starting hot with birdies at Nos. 2 and 5, Karrie Webb bogeyed No. 6 and could have settled for a strong showing near the top of the leaderboard.
Instead, she played her best golf of the week – with eight birdies in 12 holes, including four straight from Nos. 13-16. That pushed her from 11 under and a handful of shots back of the lead to 19 under and leader-in-the-clubhouse status. Which led to a win.
“I definitely putted probably the best I have all week; I don’t feel like I putted all that great the first few rounds,” Webb said. “Worked on a few things last night, so I really got the ball rolling on the back nine. I stood on the tenth tee and I was like what’s it going to take to get to 20 under. So I had to shoot 29. And I shot 30.”
Which was enough.
“I think the amazing part is that when you talk to her, when she talks about her golf game she seems very frustrated with it,” Stacy Lewis said. “That’s the amazing part of it. So she gets it. She knows how to get it done. She knows when if she’s not hitting it as well, or she knows how to make a few putts and hang around. That’s what she did yesterday when we played together.”
Webb earned her second victory of the season, having won the Women’s Australian Open in her homeland, and earned her third top-five finish of the year. She spoke to Golfweek last year about, among other things, how starting the Karrie Webb Series for amateurs in Australia has changed her perspective a bit on being able to give back as well as opening up.
With a strong start to 2014, it certainly can’t be hurting.
Yet her confidence wasn’t high after getting to the clubhouse in 19 under.
“I’d say someone will get to 20 – I mean there’s plenty of accessible pin positions on the back nine,” she said. “But we’ll wait and see. I gave it my best shot today.”
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2. KO JUST MISSES: Thursday through Saturday, Lydia Ko played Wildfire’s 15th through 18th holes in 9 under, with seven birdies and an eagle against no bogeys.
Sunday, she managed just one birdie against three pars – and it made all the difference as she came up short in chasing Karrie Webb from two shots back entering that stretch. She especially needed another lift after playing Nos. 6-14 with three bogeys and no birdies.
“I tried to get myself together, and I made some bogeys in the wrong time, which wasn’t ideal, but I tried my best until the last,” Ko said.
A birdie at the 15th pulled her within a shot of Webb at 18 under; at that point Azahara Munoz and Amy Yang also stood on that mark with two to play as Stacy Lewis was 18 under and in the clubhouse. From there, she made pars at Nos. 16-17, which she’d birdied five times combined this week. That sent her to the 18th looking to force a playoff, but a long birdie try tailed off short.
Ko admitted to feeling some pressure at the last.
“I pulled my drive and I left my second shot a little short, slightly too short for a nice little tap‑in birdie,” she said. “But that happened, but I gave it a good round with my putt.”
The T-2 finish is Ko’s third top 10 of the season as she still looks for her first official LPGA win since turning pro.
“I still can’t imagine at 16 being able to do what she does,” Webb said after her round. “So you know, it’s been an incredible start to her hopefully very long career.”
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3. LEWIS GETS CLOSE: Stacy Lewis started her round Sunday as she had ended things Saturday – with a bogey. But that was her last blemish of the week.
“I got to the back nine where I’m more comfortable and just kind of started to free things up a little bit, and I made birdie on 14, and you know, I kind of looked at the leaderboard and said if I can birdie the last four, you know, I can get in there and tie Webbie,” she said. “And unfortunately I just came up one shot short, but to finish the way I did, it was just really nice to hit the shots to make the putts at the end of the round and get some good – seeing putts go in always helps going into the next couple of weeks.”
Lewis answered immediately with a birdie, then ran off six more – including five during a back-nine 31 – to pull within a shot of Webb at 18 under.
Her 27 putts Sunday gave Lewis her best total of the week en route to her third top-5 finish this season.
“Coming off Asia I wasn’t really happy with my game, so to come out here and play the way I did and make some birdies at the end of the round, that’s kind of what’s been my Achilles heel over these last of couple months,” Lewis said. “So to make some birdies at the end of the round is really encouraging. I’m still starting to feel more comfortable with the putter. It’s still not quite where I want it, but this is really good to build off of for going into Kraft in the next couple of weeks.”
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4. 18’S A CROWD: In addition to Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis, three others finished at 18 under to tie for runner-up honors:
- Mirim Lee, who had led the first two rounds but slid with a 70 Saturday;
- Azahara Munoz, earning her second runner-up finish of the season;
- and Amy Yang, whose previous best finish of the season was T-29 at the HSBC Women’s Champions.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Pornanong Phatlum’s 66 Sunday was her best round of the week and lifted her to 17 under, T-7. . . . Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings No. 1 Suzann Pettersen finished T-29 at 11 under after a 67, her best round of the week. . . . Hee-Won Han matched Webb’s 63, while Jenny Shin shot 64. . . . The LPGA on Sunday expressed its support for the World Golf Hall of Fame’s changes, while saying in a statement its LPGA Hall of Fame will remain. The association said the world hall’s Female Competitor Category “will give more women the opportunity to have their careers fully reviewed throughout the selection process, with the hope of enabling more women to be globally recognized for their tremendous accomplishments and impact on the game.”