SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. -- When the long and dreary secondround of the U.S. Women's Open finally concluded Saturday, Karrie Webb had a three-stroke lead and more energy than several of her challengers.
With a nifty 5-under 65 in hand, Webb got off the course before heavy rains suspended play and caused 105 players to return at dawn to Pine Needles to complete the second round and try to catch the 135 score that gave Webb the lead.
No one came close.
A.J. Eathorne of Canada, who had a 10-foot par putt on her fifth hole when play was suspended Friday, missed it Saturday morning but was steady the rest of the round for a 71, putting her at 138.
Se Ri Pak got to within two strokes of Webb before bogeys on the last two holes. Pak, who had to play 16 holes Saturday morning, shot a 70 and was at 139.
"I missed my approach shots on 17 and 18 and there's no chance to get up-and-down," Pak said. "I got a little bit upset about those last two holes."
No one else was under par.
Annika Sorenstam bogeyed two of her final four holes for a 72 and was seven strokes back in her bid to win the second leg of the Grand Slam.
"I'll be ready this afternoon," Sorenstam said. "I am going to shake this off and be on fire. Hopefully, my game will be, too."
That's what it might take to catch Webb, the defending champion and winner of three of the past six majors.
After a combined 13 victories on the LPGA Tour the last two years, including last year's Women's Open, Webb has yet to win on American soil in 2001. She might have found what's holding her back during a bogey-free round Friday.
"One thing that I've been lacking this year is at certain moments, I haven't kept the roll going," said Webb, who shot an even-par 70 in Thursday's first round. "I haven't done the right thing."
Webb did on this day.
She carded five birdies in her bogey-free round, saving pars with a 6-footer on No. 3 and a 10-footer on the 15th hole to match her career-low round in an Open.
Despite a second round that took nearly 30 hours to complete, the tournament could get right back on schedule with a few tweaks.
The minimum 60 players made the cut. To get it as much golf as possible, the USGA used threesomes that started on both tees for the third round, meaning Webb, Eathorne and Pak were to tee off at 3:10 p.m. EDT.
Sophie Gustafon had a 66 and was at even-par 140, tied with Kelly Robbins (68) and Juli Inkster (72). Inkster was the only one in that group who played her second round Friday.
Also taking advantage of rain-softened greens Saturday morning was Catriona Matthew of Scotland, who had a 68 and also was at 140.
All of them will be chasing Webb, who has been driving the ball long and straight and seeing crucial putts drop into the hole, just like the last two years when she was the dominant player in women's golf.
"Even if I had made a couple of bogeys and shot 67, I would have been really happy," Webb said. "But the fact that I made those par putts to keep the momentum going in the right direction, that's what I feel really good about."
Webb's best birdie came on No. 2 when she chipped in from 70 feet.
Webb has won three of the last six majors and is trying to become the seventh woman to make a successful defense in the U.S. Open.
"Got my attention," Rosie Jones said of Webb's round.
Cindy Figg-Currier, who also opened with a 3-under, didn't get a chance to tee off Friday. Figg-Currier was out at the course early Saturday, but soon fell off the leaderboard and shot 76, eight strokes behind.
Thirteen-year-old Morgan Pressel, who became the youngest qualifier in Women's Open history, made it to the weekend -- but only because she couldn't finish her final two holes.
She ended Saturday morning with a second straight 7-over 77, sinking a 15-footer on her last hole to save par. Pressel then headed to Kentucky for a junior tournament that begins Monday.
"I didn't want to finish with a bogey, so finishing with a par is always nice," said Pressel, who posed for photos with 13-year-old standard bearer Dustin Adams after her round. "I was happy. I had six pars in the last six holes."
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