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With birdies on the final two holes, both of which ranked among the toughest for the week, Karrie Webb not only successfully defended her U.S. Women's Open crown, she walked away with the biggest margin of victory at the Open in 21 years.

Webb, who gained the lead with the Championship's best effort on Friday, a 5-under-par 65 in the rain-altered second round, steadily increased her lead the rest of the way until she finished with a 7-under total of 273. The next best finisher at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C., was Se Ri Pak, who was eight strokes behind with a 1-over 281.

Dottie Pepper rebounded after opening with a 74 to play the last three rounds at 2-under and moved into third place in the end with a 2-over 282. The low amateur was Candy Hannemann, a student at Duke University, who just a week earlier was the individual NCAA champion. Hannamann finished at 11-over 291.

Webb entered the final round with a five-stroke lead over Pak and was never really challenged. Pak got as close as three strokes after the fourth hole before faltering to finish with a 72.

The turning point in the round came at the par-4 seventh. Webb knocked a 6-iron to 16 feet and made the uphill birdie putt while Pak's 15-footer for par missed, leaving Webb with a six-stroke lead and 11 holes to play.

"I really came in playing well and thought I had a very good chance," Webb said later. "You put a lot of hard work in to get ready because this is so important. To walk up the 18th fairway for the second year in a row with a comfortable enough margin to really enjoy the atmosphere is a great feeling. There will be times when I retire from golf that I'll sit back and remember these times.

"It's just so rewarding. As a little girl I never expected to be sitting here once (as champion), let alone twice."

In 2000 at the Merit Club in Gurnee, Ill., Webb lost a four-stroke lead on the final day and was tied by Meg Mallon after nine holes before she regrouped and won by five.

Annika Sorenstam, who had already won five times in the 2001 LPGA season coming into the Championship, couldn't do better than four scores of 70 or higher. She finished at 287, 14 shots back.

In addition to the best professionals, the 150-player field also included a couple notable amateurs - 13-year-old Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton, Fla., and Brenda Corrie Kuehn of Fletcher, N.C., who was eight months pregnant.

Pressel was just 12 years old a week earlier when she became the youngest to ever qualify for the Women's Open.


Starts - 13

Best Finish - Winner 2000 & '01

Rds - 46

Cuts Made - 10

Top 3 - 2

Top 5 - 3

Top 10 - 4

Top 25 - 6

Avg. - 72.57

Scores In 60s - 9

Rds Under Par - 12

Earnings - $1,274,150.00
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