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Webb rallies to end drought

PITTSFORD, N.Y., June 23 (UPI) -- Karrie Webb claimed her first LPGA Tour title in a year Sunday, erasing a three-stroke deficit over the final three holes to edge Mi Hyun Kim on a windy day at the Wegmans Rochester LPGA.

A two-time LPGA Player of the Year, Webb carded a 4-under-par 68 to reach 12-under 276 and won by a stroke when Kim missed a 10-foot par putt at the 18th hole. Webb birdied two of the last three holes while Kim bogeyed two of them.

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"Obviously, I was not really expecting this, but it is great," Webb said. "I've been struggling for most of this year. I have played well early and struggled a little bit when I've needed to play good, but not today."

The Australian star had not won since claiming the LPGA Championship nearly a year ago. The 27-year-old has 27 career titles, also winning here in 1999.

Kim was seeking her fourth career title but settled for her second straight runner-up finish. She tied for second at last week's Evian Ladies Masters.

Se Ri Pak of Korea was third at 281. No one else finished within seven strokes of Webb.

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Swedish star Annika Sorenstam skipped the tournament after capturing her fifth tour victory of the season last week.

The 1999 Rookie of the Year, Kim arrived at Locust Hill Country Club with a five-stroke lead, but she had just two hours sleep and an Achilles injury. She also played with a lack of confidence, which led to six bogeys.

"I don't know," she said. "I think I just have to take a rest."

Kim also was hurt by gusts that blew around the 6,200-yard layout. That played into the hands of Webb, who was hoping for high winds.

"One reason I asked for wind is when a player has as many woods as Kimmie does, then it's hard to keep the ball down," Webb said. "That is what happened."

Webb played the front nine in 3-under but was two strokes behind Kim at the turn. She then bogeyed the 12th while Kim sank a 20-foot birdie putt for a four-shot cushion with six holes left.

"Even with a four-shot lead over Karrie, I still felt bad," Kim said. "I missed a lot of short birdie putts. When I hit a putt, I felt my stroke was OK. But they just lipped out."

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After a bogey at the 13th, Kim had a three-shot lead with three holes remaining.

Things changed dramatically at No. 16, where Kim lost her tee shot right en route to bogey and Webb sank a 12-foot birdie putt to get within a shot. After driving into the rough, Webb made a 10-footer for birdie at the par-5 17th to tie for the lead.

"I knew it was anyone's tournament from there," Webb said.

Both players found the fairway at No. 18, but Kim came up short with her approach as her 9-wood landed seven feet in front of the green.

Webb ended up pin high, 22 feet from the hole with her approach at No. 18 and watched Kim chip 10 feet past the cup. Webb then came up four feet short with her birdie try but putted out as Kim watched.

"I didn't want to have a four-foot putt to look at while she was putting hers," Webb said. "I think she would have made her putt if I had marked. Normally, I would have marked it, but I wanted to put it in the hole and put pressure on her."

She did as Kim rolled her par putt off the right edge, giving Webb the victory. Kim matched her worst round since March.

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