Mercury Titleholders Championship
Mercury Titleholders Championship
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Scores from the 3rd round
News and report from the 4th round
Scores from the 4th round

Webb gets the better of the rain

Australia's Karrie Webb completed her final seven holes in three under par on Monday to win the rain-plagued LPGA Titleholders Championship at Daytona Beach in Florida for her fourth title of the year.

Webb, already the year's leading LPGA money winner, increased her lead with the £85,000 top prize after a 17-under-par total of 271 left her three strokes ahead of runner-up Annika Sorenstam of Sweden.

The Australian completed a closing six-under round of 66 after darkness halted play last night with the leaders barely onto the back nine.

Thunderstorms had delayed play for three hours on Sunday after interruptions on Friday and Saturday as well.

Britain's Laura Davies and American trio Meg Mallon, Becky Iverson and Chris Johnson shared third place on 276.

Johnson and Iverson had shared the lead with Webb at 14-under when play resumed today but fell off the pace.

Iverson began the final round with a four-stroke lead but missed a chance for her first title since 1995.

Sorenstam, the two-time reigning LPGA player of the year, played her final eight holes in one under par to claim second place after a final round of 70.

Mallon finished at par over her final seven holes for a 70 while Davies went one under for her final six holes in a 69.

Australia's Rachel Hetherington failed in her bid for a third consecutive LPGA victory, finishing with a final-round 75 to finish on 284.

Final round scores
271 K Webb (Aus) 69 66 70 66

274 A Sorenstam (Swe) 68 68 68 70

276 L Davies (Gbr) 72 69 66 69, M Mallon 69 70 67 70, C Johnson 75 63 67 71, B Iverson 68 66 66 76

277 K Tschetter 68 67 73 69, S Steinhauer 74 67 68 68

278 R Jones 71 68 66 73, V Skinner 73 65 70 70

279 T Barrett 67 73 69 70

280 H Alfredsson (Swe) 68 72 67 73, T Johnson 69 69 71 71, A DeLuca 71 66 72 71, M Hjorth (Swe) 68 69 76 67, J Pitcock 74 67 68 71, C Kerr 69 69 73 69, D Eggeling 70 68 69 73

Selected others:

283 G Graham (Can) 71 70 70 72, J Stephenson (Aus) 70 69 72 72, H Dobson (Gbr) 71 72 70 70

284 C Nilsmark (Swe) 72 69 67 76, A Fukushima (Jpn) 68 74 74 68, R Hetherington (Aus) 67 74 68 75

286 S Lowe (Gbr) 73 70 72 71

288 M Lunn (Aus) 72 69 74 73, K Marshall (Gbr) 71 71 76 70

289 L Hackney (Gbr) 74 69 71 75

292 S Strudwick (Gbr) 74 69 75 74, A Gottmo (Swe) 70 73 73 76



Three tied for lead as tournament heads for Monday finish

The Mercury Titleholders Championship, a tournament that almost didn't happen, has turned into one that might never end.

The third storm delay in as many days deprived the LPGA Tour of a rare network appearance and forced a Monday morning, back-nine shootout with Becky Iverson, Karrie Webb and Chris Johnson tied for the lead at 14-under.

Iverson started the fourth round with a four-stroke lead over Annika Sorenstam but dropped two strokes under conditions that symbolized a bizarre final round.

She had to hit a tee shot in the driving rain just before the start of a 3 1/2-hour storm delay and almost lost the club out of her hand, the ball landing in an awkward position left of the greenside bunker. Then she bogeyed her final hole, No. 10, after she and Sorenstam pleaded with a rules official to stop play because of the darkness.

Sorenstam missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole and remained one stroke back at 13-under.

"It was spooky out there," Sorenstam said. "I couldn't even see my drive land on the ninth hole. I had a hard time seeing the ball in the rough. And all the putts looked straight."

Meg Mallon was at 12-under, with Kris Tschetter and Laura Davies another stroke back. Among those at 10-under was Rosie Jones, who won the Wegmans Rochester International last year when it had to be completed on Monday.

What has been a marathon week now becomes a sprint to the finish. Play is to resume at 7:30 a.m., with 22 players still on the course.

"Everybody has a chance," Sorenstam said. "It's going to be an exciting finish."

Too bad nobody will see it.

The Titleholders, which nearly was canceled because of sponsorship problems two months ago, is one of only six LPGA events on network television. CBS Sports managed to get in about an hour on Saturday before storms moved into the area, and 10 minutes today.

With afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast, players were upset that they didn't play earlier today and the last round shown on tape delay.

"It's ridiculous," Sorenstam said. "We were surprised, because we all knew the forecast was the same for today."

LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said the tour asked CBS if players could go off from both tees and start earlier for a tape delay.

"We were told by CBS that because of some logistical issues involved, they were uncomfortable with that," he said. "They felt the better course was to go live. And the forecast was slightly better than yesterday."

Unlike the PGA Tour, where networks pay a rights fee to broadcast tournaments, the LPGA buys time from the network. Still, it didn't have the final word on when to play.

"From what we've been told, we asked the question (about a tape delay) too late," Votaw said. "We'll have further conversations with CBS tomorrow. Now is not the right environment."

Lance Barrow, the golf producer for CBS, said discussions of a tape delay never got serious.

"We were capable of doing it, we're able to do it," he said. "It probably wouldn't have helped us today, anyway."

Iverson could have walked away with $135,000 for her first victory in four years if lightning had not moved out of the area.

If the final group had not finished nine holes before darkness set in at 8 p.m., the tournament would have reverted to 54 holes and Iverson would have been declared the winner. It had to carry over to Monday when she missed a 6-foot putt on the ninth hole and tapped in for par.

Still leading by one stroke, Iverson overshot the green on No. 10 and missed another 6-footer to finally lose her lead in the fading twilight.

Or maybe that was the Twilight Zone.

During the 3 1/2-hour rain delay, players waited in their cars and walked their dogs. The big excitement came when a 2-foot pygmy rattlesnake slithered into the locker room. It was stomped to death by a police officer.

When Iverson returned after the delay, a fan had taken her ball and she had to drop another. She hit the chip 10 feet by the hole and missed the put coming back.

DIVOTS: Se Ri Pak, who skipped the Titleholders to play the Gunze Cup in Japan, didn't fare much better in Tokyo. She finished eight strokes back and failed to break 70 in any of the four rounds. On the LPGA Tour, Pak has just six of 30 rounds in the 60s. ... With nine holes left, Nancy Lopez has made 17 birdies this week, good for a $25,500 donation from Bayer to the American Stroke Association. ... There have been six aces this week on the LPGA International course.