Webb races clear in LPGA Championships

WILMINGTON, Delaware, Reuters

Karrie Webb raced three strokes clear of the field by firing a seven-under par 64 in the second round of the McDonald’s LPGA Championship at DuPont Country Club on Friday.

The 26-year-old Australian, who has won four of the last seven majors, finished 11-under-par on 131, three ahead of overnight leader Wendy Ward (69) of the U.S. and Sweden’s Helen Alfredsson (66).

Britain’s Laura Davies (68) and American Michelle Redman (66) were another shot back.

Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam, chasing her sixth title and second major of a phenomenal season, was six behind on 137 after a 69.

Webb, who retained her U.S. Open crown with an eight-shot win at Pine Needles in North Carolina three weeks ago, is again the player in control as she chases the trophy that would complete a personal grand slam of the four majors.

“At the start of the season, my aim was to peak for the majors and I’m delighted at how it is working out,” said Webb.

“I hit top form at the U.S. Open and I still feel I’m swinging it just as well.”

Webb, who started at the 10th, reached the turn in a one under-par 35 after sinking a five-foot birdie putt at the 18th.

She then launched a blistering attack on her back nine, reeling off six birdies for a tournament record 29 after a wonderful exhibition of shot-making. She only needed 10 putts, with only one longer than six feet.

Davies, playing alongside Webb, conceded that the outcome was in the Australian’s hands.

“If Karrie keeps playing the way she has over the first two rounds, then she’ll win it,” said the twice former champion who needs the title to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame.

“But it is up to the rest of us to rise to the challenge and try to post some low scores and pile on the pressure. I’ll be looking for a couple of 67s.”

Ward agreed. She said: “Karrie is setting new standards, but it means we are all having to raise our games to even try to keep pace.”

American Juli Inkster’s hopes of a record third straight victory in the event all but disappeared. She was 11 strokes off the pace after carding her second consecutive 71.