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Klein To The Top

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Emilee Klein shot a 3-under 69 Sunday and romped to a wire-to-wire victory at the Michelob Light Classic near St. Louis.
 
The 27-year-old Klein posted a total of 11-under-par 205 to finish five shots ahead of Jill McGill and Annika Sorenstam. She collected $120,000 for the win and ended a nearly five-year victory drought.
 
'I've won so many times, I've never been scared to win,' said Klein, a two- time All-American at Arizona State who won the 1994 NCAA Individual Championship title. 'I've won so many times, I know how to do it.'
 
Klein, whose successful amateur career also included a win in the 1991 U.S. Junior Girls Championship and an appearance on the 1994 U.S. Curtis Cup squad, captured back-to-back LPGA titles in 1996, her second year on tour.
 
She fired a final-round 65 to win by two shots over Karrie Webb at the PING Welch's Championship in August that year. The following week she cruised to a seven-shot triumph at the Women's British Open at Woburn Golf Club in England.
 
But while Klein had three runner-up showings over the next two years, her highest finish in 1999 was third. She notched just two top-10s last year, with her best a tie for seventh at the Corning Classic.
 
'It's been very frustrating the last couple of years, especially when I'm finishing 22nd or 24th on the money list,' Klein said. 'The money doesn't mean anything to me. Winning means everything. I'm not out here just to play in golf tournaments, I'm just here to win golf tournaments.'
 
After opening Friday with what was then a course-record 64 at Fox Run Golf Club, Klein carded an even-par 72 Saturday that left her two shots ahead of Sherri Turner, who was seeking her first LPGA victory in 12 years.
 
But Turner struggled to a 75 Sunday and tied for 13th, eight shots back.
 
McGill collected nine birdies en route to setting a new course record with a bogey-free 63. Her 9-under-par score also tied the tournament record for 18 holes, a mark established in 1996 by Vicki Fergon at Forest Hills Country Club.
 
The 63 also eclipsed McGill's previous career-low round by two shots.
 
'I was never really in trouble out there today,' said McGill, who vaulted from 48th place after two rounds into a tie for second with Sorenstam. 'I had a lot of opportunities and made almost all of them that I had, which hasn't happened in a long time.'
 
Sorenstam, who leads the LPGA Tour with five victories this season but hasn't won since early May, closed with a 2-under 70 to finish at 6-under 210.
 
'I'll take it,' said Sorenstam, who finished second for the third time this year. 'Golf-wise I have some things to work on. I hit some brilliant shots and some scary ones too, so it was definitely a roller-coaster for me out there today. I putted really well and my short game was great all week.'
 
The Swedish star, a four-time champion of the Michelob Light Classic, will get a chance to return to the winner's circle when she defends her title next week at the Big Apple Classic in New York.
 
Shani Waugh, Mitzi Edge and Denise Killeen shared fourth place at 5-under.
 
Webb, the winner of the last two majors on the LPGA Tour, tied for seventh with Jeong Jang, Leta Lindley, Amy Fruhwirth, Diana D'Alessio and Kris Tschetter.
 
The Women's British Open, the fourth and final major of the 2001 LPGA season, will be held August 2-5 at Sunningdale Golf Club in England.
 
Full-field scores from the Michelob Light Classic