2002: LPGA - At Turnberry, Webb takes the fifth

Turnberry, Scotland

No wonder Karrie Webb is constantly compared to Tiger Woods. Her exploits in women’s golf equal Woods’ in the men’s game, but she has achieved a feat even Woods will never accomplish – win five different major titles.

Webb did that at Turnberry when she won the $1.5 million Weetabix Women’s British Open Aug. 11.

Webb took the season’s final major championship with rounds of 66-71-70-66–273, 15 under par. Her victory earned her $236,383.

Spain’s Paula Marti and Michelle Ellis of Australia finished tied for second at 13-under 275. Catrin Nilsmark, Candie Kung, Jennifer Rosales and Jeong Jang tied for fourth at 277.

It was Webb’s sixth major victory in the past four years, and kept alive her streak of at least one major per year during that stretch. It also made her the first player to win what the LPGA is calling the “Super Career Grand Slam.”

Previously, Webb was one of five LPGA players to achieve the career Grand Slam, along with Louise Suggs (1957), Mickey Wright (1962), Pat Bradley (1986) and Juli Inkster (1999). Webb is the first player to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the McDonald’s LPGA Championship, the U.S. Women’s Open (twice), the du Maurier Classic and the Women’s British Open. (The Women’s British Open replaced the du Maurier as a major last year.)

“Obviously at the start of the year I knew I had a chance to win five different major championships,” she said. “There’s not a lot of players on tour with the chance to do that, so I feel pretty honored and feel great that I’ve been the first player to do it.”

At 27, Webb became the second-youngest player to win six majors. Mickey Wright was 26 when she won the 1961 U.S. Open.

Webb was having a quiet season by her standards until she arrived in Scotland. The Australian had only one LPGA victory, the Wegman’s Rochester LPGA in June, but she made her intentions clear with an opening 66. By matching that score in the final round, she came from three strokes behind to catch overnight leaders Rosales and Carin Koch.

“This is one of the best rounds I’ve played in a long time,” said Webb, who won this event in 1995 and 1997. “I shot 66 in the final round when I won my first major (the 1999 du Maurier). But I birdied four of the last six holes then. This was a much more solid round. I hit a lot of good irons and made the putts today.”

For much of the week it looked like a youth movement was taking over the women’s game.

Everywhere one looked, there was another player not long out of high school audaciously challenging for the title. At the end of Saturday’s play, Natalie Gulbis (19), Marti (22), Beth Bauer (22) and Rosales (23) were in contention. In the end, it was Marti who came through in the clutch.

Marti is to women’s golf what Sergio Garcia is to the men’s game. The Barcelona professional only has one mindset: attack. She did that in the final round with four birdies and only one bogey.

“At the start of the week, I would have taken a top five, but to finish second in a big tournament like this, a major, is a dream come true,” Marti said.

Marti moved up two spots to fourth in the European Solheim Cup standings, guaranteeing her a spot on the European team that will take on the United States Sept. 20-22 at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn.

Ellis, 26, birdied three of the last four holes to tie Marti for second.

“I love Webby to bits,” said Ellis, who shot 68. “To finish second to her is awesome. Her ability to pull it off consistently when she is under the gun is why she’s so successful.”

Webb had talked about survival of the fittest earlier in the week. However, she was the only big-name player to contend. Weetabix lost three big drawing cards when Juli Inkster, Annika Sorenstam and Laura Davies missed the cut. The three played the opening two rounds in 20 over par collectively to miss the 1-over cut.

Inkster, the U.S. Women’s Open champion, shot 75-78 to miss the cut by eight shots.

Sorenstam came into the tournament as a favorite to win her second major of the year, but shot 73-77 to miss the weekend by five.

“It is a bummer because I came in here feeling good about my game,” Sorenstam said after missing her first cut since the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open. “I had prepared exactly the way I wanted, but it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. I just didn’t hit it in the center of the clubface.”

Davies shot 74-75, including a quadruple-bogey 9 on No. 17 in the first round.

Their absence may have had something to do with the low attendance Saturday despite Turnberry being bathed in the best weather of the week. Only 7,500 fans turned up for the third round, down considerably from last year when the tournament was held at Sunningdale Golf Club in Berkshire, England.

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