Webb wins ShopRite Classic for ill grandmother
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — Winning for the first time in two years on the LPGA Tour didn’t cause Karrie Webb’s eyes to well.
The 38-year-old Hall of Famer cried thinking of her seriously ill 87-year-old grandmother after winning the ShopRite LPGA Classic on Sunday.
Just days earlier, Webb considered returning home to Australia after her parents told her that her grandmother, Marion Webb, was near death.
“She talked to me on the phone and said she didn’t want me to come home, and that I had to win one for her,” Webb said after rallying from a five shots down to post a two-stroke victory over China’s Shanshan Feng in very windy conditions on the Bay Course at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.
While she has had occasional good rounds on this course across the bay from the Atlantic City casinos, Webb has never really seriously contended on the final day.
“I was like, this isn’t the one that you tell me that I have to win for you because I was like, ‘I’ve never really even had a shot to win here,’” said Webb, who won for the 39th time on the LPGA Tour, most among active players. “So when I got off to that start, I was like, ‘Oh, my God. ’ Well, when she started to make a turn for the better, my dad said, ‘Look, she’s going to make it, so the pressure is off, you know.’
“He felt for me after she told me I had to win it for her. But you know, I was in contention and in the lead today. I was like, ‘Wow, I might actually be able to do this for her.’”
Webb won by shooting a spectacular 3-under 68, matching the best round of the day. Her 4-under 209 total tied the highest winning score on the course.
Playing in wind gusting to 25-30 mph, Webb had two birdies, an eagle and a bogey, capping the round with a 5-foot birdie at the par-5 final hole. She also made six par-saving putts of 5-6 feet.
“It never gets old. It never gets any easier, either,” said Webb, who won the Australian Ladies Masters in February. “Today was extremely tough, and I’m just glad that I pulled it out. I think coming down I knew I needed to make one birdie, I thought, because I didn’t think I could just par in and feel comfortable, so great birdie on the last.”
Feng led by three shots entering the final round, but struggled in the wind and finished with a 75. She had two double bogeys on the front nine, and gave away the lead with bogeys on 11th and 13th holes.
Feng, the first Chinese player to win an LPGA Tour event and a major when she captured the LPGA Championship last year, gave credit to Webb.
“I would say 68 is a really, really great score for today,” said Feng, who broke in a new set of clubs this week. “I would say actually four over didn’t sound too bad to me. But maybe that’s why I’ve never played well in the British Open. Yet.”
The final round played out somewhat like a U.S. Open with the elements, the dried-out fast greens and the fescue-lined fairways wreaking havoc on the 74 players who qualified for the final round.
Webb, who got back into contention with a 69 in the second round, made her move early, rolling in a 25-foot birdie putt on the difficult 420-yard second hole that might have been the toughest on the course with the wind blowing into the players’ faces off Reed’s Bay. She moved into a share of the lead on the par-5 third, rolling in a 6-foot eagle.
“I think I knuckle down and focus a lot better when conditions are tough,” Webb said.
Feng, who fell into a tie with Webb early, regained the lead with a short birdie at the eighth hole, but her bogeys at Nos. 11 and 13 put Webb 1-up.
Webb’s birdie at No. 18 pushed the margin to two shots. Feng closed within a shot with a short birdie putt at No. 16, but she hit her tee shot in the bunker at the next hole and bogeyed. She needed an eagle at the par-5 final hole but had to settle for par.
Jenny Shin of South Korea, who had four straight birdies on the back nine, finished fourth at even par after a 70.
Rookie Chie Arimura, who was tied for the lead on the front nine, finished in a group at 1 over. Despite a final round 74, Michelle Wie had her best showing of the year, finishing in a group at 2 over.
“Overall I fought hard, and I’m pretty proud of the way I played this week and I think it’s a good week leading up to a major, so I’m just excited to get over there and play well,” said Wie, who is still looking for her first LPGA Tour win in the United States.
There were only 13 rounds under par on the final day and those with early tee-off times benefited. Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer matched Webb with 68s, moving them from a tie for 58th to a tie for 13th.
Feng will defend her LPGA Championship in Pittsford, N.Y., next week.