STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. (AP) -- Karrie Webb is so dominant on the LPGA Tour that she had to defend herself after shooting a 68.
Webb faded down the stretch, but still put herself in position for another victory, lurking just three shots behind leader Sophie Gustafson after the opening round Friday of the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship.
''I left a couple of shots out there,'' admitted Webb, who was at 6-under-par through 10 holes, but played the rest of the round at 2 over. ''A 68 was probably the worst I could have shot today.''
Webb, coming off a month-long vacation, struggled with her mental focus as the round dragged on for more than five hours at Eagles Landing Country Club. Her threesome, which also included Nancy Lopez and Lorie Kane, was put on the clock for slow play. By the end, Webb looked like a mere mortal.
''It's easier to forgive myself because I have seen a lot of birdies and a lot of putts go in,'' he said. ''I know I can turn things around.''
So does everyone else.
Although 46 of the top 50 money-winners are playing in the Atlanta-area tournament, no one can match Webb's numbers. The 1999 player of the year has been dominant during her first five tournaments in 2000, winning four times and finishing second in the other event.
''You just try and keep up out there,'' said Val Skinner, who was two shots off the lead with a 67. ''She has really raised the bar out here for all of us. Her play is extremely impressive and there is no need to look at the leader board when she is out there, because you just know that you have to be 3 or 4 under just to assure that you keep up.''
Webb, playing the back nine first, birdied five holes before making the turn, then knocked in a 12-footer for birdie at No. 1. Her troubles began at No. 3 -- a short par-5 that's a par-4 for members -- when her second shot from 176 yards landed in the creek that trickles in front of the green.
''I could have played more conservative,'' Webb said. ''But I was 6 under through 10 and things were good.''
That mistake seemed to slow her momentum. Webb muddled through five straight pars before taking a bogey at the final hole when she missed a 12-foot putt.
''Generally, I'm pretty happy with my round,'' she said. ''I made some mental errors. I was little tired -- mentally, not physically. That's natural when you've had four weeks off.''
Webb took advantage of a lull in the schedule -- only one tournament since her victory at the Nabisco Championship on March 26 -- to spend some time fishing and playing golf at her home in Boynton Beach, Fla.
Gustafson, seeking her first victory as she plays her second full season on the tour, shot a 7-under 65 for a 2-shot lead over Skinner and Amy Fruhwirth. Another shot back were Webb and Michelle McGann.
The 26-year-old Gustafson overcame a double-bogey at 14 by making several long putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at No. 1 and another 30-footer for eagle at No. 3. She completed her round with a flourish at the 465-yard 18th, knocking a 4-iron within 15 feet and making the eagle putt.
''I was able to hit the ball good out there, and I had some putts that went in,'' said Gustafson, who benefited from playing in the morning when the wind was calmer and the greens softer after heavy overnight rains.
Skinner is a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour, but her last victory was in 1995. She bogeyed her first hole, sailing an 8-iron over the green and into a back bunker, but that was her only major mistake. Skinner had six birdies and 11 pars the rest of the way.
''For some reason, I was very patient and I hung in there,'' said Skinner, who has won only $6,263 this year and missed the cut in three of her four events. ''When the chances came, I was able to make it, and that was the key.''
Fruhwirth, seeking her second LPGA victory, also started with a bogey, but played her final seven holes in 5 under, including a streak of four straight birdies.
''I hit straight and long off the tee and I had some good iron shots into the green,'' she said. ''Overall, it was kind of a boring round.''
Lopez, serving as official host of the $900,000 tournament for the first time, and Kane, runner-up in the Chick-fil-A for two straight years, both struggled to 73s.
Defending champion Rachel Hetherington, who beat Kane in a playoff last year, was nine shots off the lead after a 74.
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