Webb conceding nothing in finale

Though 7 back, Australian has recent history on side


June 06, 1999|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

WEST POINT, Miss. -- The most dominant golfer on the LPGA Tour this season is not giving up without a fight at the 54th U.S. Women's Open.

Karrie Webb might be seven shots behind Juli Inkster after three rounds, but nothing seems insurmountable for a player who has won four tournaments this year and has yet to be out of the Top 10.

"It's pretty amazing to me. Each week, I've had a chance to win nearly every tournament," the 24-year-old Australian said yesterday after a 4-under-par 68 left her at 8-under 208. "There's probably only a handful that I've just played my way into the Top 10 on Sunday. I really haven't gotten off that wave yet."

Webb might need to catch more than a wave in today's final round. She might need some of the luck she had on the par-4 18th hole yesterday, when her approach hit the stone facing protecting the green from the pond, and skipped over a trap and across the green.

Then she nearly improperly moved her ball mark before cautioned by a Golf Channel employee.

"That's two lucky breaks," said Webb. "I'll count my blessings."

Despite her status as the LPGA's top player, Webb has also become something of a target for the criticism that the tour's stars lack the personality to attract fans and sponsors. Webb and Sweden's Annika Sorenstam have been mentioned most prominently in a rash of stories about the tour's problems.

"The people who are writing these things are attacking me," said Webb. "I really can't do much about that. If people have problems with the way I carry myself on the golf course. I don't feel I do anything out there. I don't cuss. I don't throw clubs. I think I carry myself professionally out there."

Turner on upswing

Sherri Turner was once the LPGA's Player of the Year, but that was a long time ago. Since 1988, when Turner won the LPGA Championship and the Corning Classic to top the tour's money list at $350,851, her career has gone downhill. It bottomed out last year when she finished 172nd on the money list with $12,017.

Turner, who will enter today's final round five shots behind Inkster, said that her life began to unravel with the death of her teacher and best friend, former tour player Kathy Ahern, from breast cancer three years ago.

"It took a lot out of me when that happened," said Turner. "She wanted me to play. I wanted her to be where she needed to be, getting the best possible care she could, but that took a lot out of me. I would say that within the last year, I've really gotten back to concentrating on my game."

It has yet to pay off for Turner, 43, who came into the Open ranked 96th this year in earnings with $24,093. She came into yesterday's third round at 6-under par and made two birdies on the front nine. Starting at the par-3 12th hole, she made four straight birdies to get to 12-under before bogeying two of the last three holes.

"I'm a little disappointed with my finish," said Turner. "But I'm going to remember how solid I played all day because it was there."

It was a feeling that hasn't been there in a while.

Chuasiriporn timeout

Jenny Chuasiriporn, who missed the cut here Friday, spent yesterday driving with her brother, Joey, to Birmingham, Ala., where their parents and younger brother caught a flight home to Baltimore. Jenny Chuasiriporn said that she will likely return today and take the week off before resuming her professional career on the Futures Tour.

"My pro [Ted Sheftic] and I learned a lot about my swing," said Chuasiriporn, who plans to work with Sheftic at his club in Hanover, Pa.

She might go with Joey when he tries to qualify for this year's men's Open at Canoe Brook in Summit, N.J., Tuesday. But there are no plans for her to caddie.

"I'm a bad caddie," she said.

Pub Date: 6/06/99

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