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Australian Karrie Webb, 25, saying she played every hole with her heart in her mouth, swept to a five-stroke victory in the United States Women’s Open Championship at the 6,540-yard, par 72 Merit Club golf course in Gurnee, Ill.

Her 6-under-par total of 282 made this her 20th career victory, her second major championship of the year, and earned her entry into the Ladies Professional Golf Association Hall of Fame, although she cannot be inducted until she has been on the LPGA tour for 10 years.

Tying for second place were Meg Mallon and Cristie Kerr, both at one under par.

“I was very nervous all day,” said Webb. “I was nervous this morning when I was getting ready, probably the most nervous I’ve ever been, just knowing that I could play great golf today and not win. I had no control over that, and that’s the part that you fear.

Webb didn’t have the victory in her grasp until late on the back nine. Two challengers, Meg Mallon, the 1991 champion, and Mi Hyun Kim, of Seoul, Korea, kept her from a run-away win. Although Kerr tied for second, she never made a serious run at the lead.

Webb led Mallon by four and Kim by seven when the final round began. Playing with Mallon, Webb struggled early. She bogeyed the fifth hole and double-bogeyed the seventh when she hit a ball into the water. Kim, meanwhile, had three birdies to pull within a stroke of the lead. Mallon, playing with Webb, was holding steady with pars.

After Webb’s double bogey at the seventh, she was proud of a difficult par on the eighth hole. “I was just really talking to myself,” said Webb. “Just to play smart and hang in there, you’re still leading a golf tournament.”

But her lead evaporated at the ninth when Mallon rolled in a 30-foot uphill birdie putt and Webb parred. Webb bounced back at the 10th. Mallon three-putted for a bogey. Webb made a 10-foot birdie putt and there was a two-stroke swing, with Webb now at five under par, Mallon at three under, and Kim at two under.

“When Karrie smells blood, she’s an animal,” said Mallon of the tenth hole. “She knew I was going to three-putt that hole and she made a birdie. I think that developed a lot of confidence.”

Kim pulled to within two strokes after her 13th hole, but staggered in with a double bogey at the 16th and a bogey at the last.

Mallon suffered three more bogeys with three-putt greens. Webb finished off her championship run with a birdie at the final hole to defeat Mallon and Kim by five strokes. She received a record prize of $500,000 of the record.


Starts - 12

Best Finish - Winner 2000 & '01

Rds - 42

Cuts Made - 9

Top 3 - 2

Top 5 - 3

Top 10 - 4

Top 25 - 6

Avg. - 72.38

Scores In 60s - 9

Rds Under Par - 11

Earnings - $1,255,460.00
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