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Karrie Webb in contention for 3rd U.S. Women’s Open title

Karrie Webb is co-leader in the clubhouse after firing a 66 in the 1st round of the U.S. Women’s Open.

Michael Cohen/Getty Images

Karrie Webb has her third U.S. Women’s Open title in sight after firing a flawless 4-under 66 to take the early co-lead in Thursday’s first round at Lancaster Country Club.

With world No. 1 Inbee Park set to tee off in the afternoon wave and second-ranked Lydia Ko in at even-par, the 40-year-old Hall of Famer walked off the course sharing a one-shot advantage with unheralded Marina Alex.

Playing in her 20th U.S. Open in a field notable for its youth, Webb entered the week confident in her ability to grab her eighth major title and as tenacious as ever to do so.

"I still want to do it. I still want to put the hard work in. I like to compete," Webb told Reuters ahead of the competition. "That's why I'm here."

Webb, the most recent player to win back-to-back Women’s Opens (2000, 2001), believes she can keep up with the kids, though she conceded the youngsters today were "fitter and stronger" than they were when she was a rookie.

"At 21 I was the youngest on tour and I came out ready to play," she said. "It seems like they're ready earlier. Now when they're 21 they've been on tour two or three years."

To Webb, who has ramped up her training as well, the key to the game is as mental as it is physical.

"For me, it's about controlling my emotions, maybe not getting expectations up too high," she said. "I know I'll have a tough few holes here and there. That's always been my challenge at a U.S. Open, controlling my emotions and just playing the course."

Webb, playing with major winners Suzann Pettersen and Shanshan Feng, will continue her quest on Friday at 1:58 p.m. ET off the first tee.