Webb in control as Thai teen makes the cut

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The Independent Online

It took nearly five and a half hours for Karrie Webb to extend her dominance in the Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, California.

Webb birdied the first three holes to shoot a 2-under 70 for a 137 total and a three-shot lead over Dottie Pepper after Friday's second round of the LPGA's first major of the year.

Webb followed her fast start by parring nine straight holes before bogeying the par-4, 403-yard 13th. Then her threesome got stuck waiting behind another group on the 17th at Mission Hills Country Club in a round that barely beat darkness.

"That's the toughest par-3 on the golf course and you've got to stand there," she said. "It's not much fun. You've got to stay patient and try and stay focused."

But Webb bogeyed the 171-yard 17th, where the pin was in the back left of the green, to fall back to 6-under. She made up on the 18th with her fourth birdie of the day.

"I'm going to have to play extremely well to win," she said. "I don't think by any means that the tournament's in the bag for me."

Pepper posted a par-72 for a 4-under 140 total to remain in second. She was 6-under after birdies at the 11th and 14th, but lost ground with three straight bogeys on Nos. 15-17.

Aree Song Wongluekiet, who should have been in school studying algebra, English and Spanish, created the day's excitement.

The 13-year-old Wongluekiet (pronounced Wahn-gloo-KEE-it) shot a 1-under 71 and made the cut with a 2-over 146 total - one stroke behind former US Open champion Laura Davies and nine back of Webb.

Aree and her twin sister, Naree, are the second-youngest ever to compete in an LPGA tournament.

"I expected to make the cut. It was one of my goals," said Aree, who along with her sister, dominated the junior circuit in the last half of 1999.

Naree didn't fare as well as her sister, failing to make the cut after an 82 that included one birdie, a double bogey and seven bogeys. She finished at 12-over 156.

Aree double-bogeyed the par-4 13th when she pushed her tee shot into the thick rough on the right side of the fairway and ended up behind a tree. She sank a 6-foot putt to salvage the double bogey.

"When I'm out there, I don't think about anything else except just playing my game and sticking to my game plan," Aree said.

That was evident in the way she calmly bounced back with a birdie on the par-3, 148-yard 14th - one of four in her round.

"That's what a champion does," said Sherri Turner, a 15-year tour veteran who played with Aree. "You forget you're playing with a 13-year-old. She's very focused, especially for a kid. I look for great things to happen for her."

Both Wongluekiet sisters are missing a week of school in Bradenton, Florida, where they attend the private David Leadbetter Academy to hone their golf games. Their mother, who is from Thailand, and father, who is from South Korea, are here this week.

The sisters have said they will play on Monday qualifying to try to get into three more LPGA tournaments, including the US Open in July. They received sponsor exemptions this week.

Scores from the second round of the $1.25 million 2000 Nabisco Championship, played on the 6,520-yard, par 36-36-72 Dinah Shore course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California ((a) denotes amateur):

Karrie Webb 67-70-137 Dottie Pepper 68-72-140 Chris Johnson 73-68-141 Lorie Kane 71-71-142 Trish Johnson 72-71-143 Sherri Steinhauer 73-71-144 Se Ri Pak 73-71-144 Pat Hurst 72-72-144 Kris Tschetter 75-70-145 Meg Mallon 75-70-145 Rosie Jones 74-71-145 Cathy Johnston-Forbes 74-71-145 Mary Beth Zimmerman 73-72-145 Tina Barrett 73-72-145 Laura Davies 71-74-145 Alison Nicholas 71-74-145 Beth Daniel 70-75-145 Meg Mallon 75-70-145 (a) Amy Fruhwirth 76-70-146 Aree Song Wongluekiet 75-71-146 Jane Geddes 74-72-146 Janice Moodie 74-72-146 Michele Redman 73-73-146 Wendy Doolan 73-73-146 Gail Graham 71-75-146 Barb Whitehead 70-76-146 Sherri Turner 77-70-147 Juli Inkster 76-71-147 Jenny Lidback 75-72-147 Nanci Bowen 75-72-147 Ayako Okamoto 73-74-147 Caroline McMillan 73-74-147 Helen Dobson 73-74-147 Rachel Hetherington 69-78-147 Kelly Robbins 79-69-148 Nancy Scranton 78-70-148 Barb Mucha 77-71-148 Kristi Albers 77-71-148 Catrin Nilsmark 77-71-148 Mi Hyun Kim 77-71-148 Dawn Coe-Jones 76-72-148 Annika Sorenstam 76-72-148 Kaori Higo 76-72-148 Susie Redman 73-75-148

Selected Others

Carin Koch 79-70-149 Liselotte Neumann 75-74-149 Cindy McCurdy 75-74-149 Becky Iverson 75-74-149 Patty Sheehan 74-75-149 Brandie Burton 74-75-149 Catriona Matthew 72-77-149 Helen Alfredsson 72-77-149 Nancy Lopez 78-72-150 Dale Eggeling 78-72-150 Donna Andrews 77-73-150 Charlotta Sorenstam 75-75-150 Tammie Green 74-76-150 (a) Akiko Fukushima 74-76-150 Kathryn Marshall 77-74-151

Failed to qualify include:

Kelli Kuehne 76-76-152 Michelle McGann 74-78-152 Emilee Klein 75-78-153 Maria Hjorth 72-81-153 Mardi Lunn 76-78-154 Betsy King 74-81-155 Cindy Figg-Currier 79-79-158