Ochoa on track to bow out on a high
Lorena Ochoa has put herself in a strong postition to bow out of golf on a high at the Tres Marais Championship.
Set to retire after playing in this week’s Tres Marias Championship on home soil in Mexico, Lorena Ochoa has boosted her hopes of ending her landmark career on a high by shooting a seven-under-par 66 in Thursday’s first round.
The reigning World number one, Mexico’s first, confirmed her plans to retire from the professional golf earlier this month and on Thursday delighted the crowds in Morelia with here opening eagle on the 10th and her four further birdies on the back nine and three on the front.
She carded two bogeys which saw her sign for a 66 and a share of third place as she bids to bow out on a high.
Ochoa is three shots behind Ai Miyazato after the Japanese star recorded 10 birdies and not a single bogey to shoot a stunning 63.
Miyazato, who is playing alongside Ochoa in the first two rounds, looks the major threat to Ochoa’s hopes of a swansong victory, having already won two LPGA Tour titles this season.
Second place after the first round belongs to Azahara Munoz of Spain, who shot an eight-under-par 65 in only her second LPGA event.
Alongside Ochoa in third is American Michelle Wie, while
England’s Karen Stupples is in a share of fifth with Colombian Mariajo Uribe.
Miyazato, already a multi title winner in native Japan made her LPGA Tour break through when she won the Evian Masters last season and hasn’t looked back, rising quickly to fifth in the world rankings.
Although she isn’t long off the tee, she is very accurate and needed just 22 putts on Thursday.
“I don’t feel like I’m playing so much better all of a sudden,” Miyazato said afterwards.
“I feel like this is just one step at a time and building up my confidence. Last year gave me a lot of confidence. Just right now I am showcasing what I can do.”
Ochoa asked to be paired withy Miyazato and former University of Arizona teammate Natalie Gulbis in the first two rounds.
Ochoa grew up in junior golf with Gulbis and called Miyazato “the nicest girl on the tour.”
“I have played with her so many times since I have been on the tour, but today was really special,” Miyazato said. “Natalie and Lorena were really relaxed, so they had an effect on me and I played really relaxed.”
The surprise package on day one was Munoz, an LPGA rookie who is playing only her second pro event.
Munoz is no stranger to winning, though.
She was a world class amateur before turning professional, winning among a long list of titles, the 2009 British Women’s Amateur Championship and the US collegiate individual champion in 2008 when she was at Arizona State.
She said she hoped to get a chance to play with Ochoa before the tournament ends.
“I know everyone is going to be cheering for her, but I just want to play with her,” Munoz said. “I never got the chance to do it and it’s her last tournament.”
Wie and Ochoa both teed off on the 10th and opened with eagles.
Ochoa, who finished at 25-under last year to win here for the second straight year and third time in four seasons, said she tried to treat the round like any other.
“I woke up in the morning and told myself: ‘We’re here, this is the last tournament, let’s enjoy the moment,'” Ochoa said.
“For sure I tried not to put too much pressure on myself because otherwise I’d be crying early in the day. Once I hit the golf course I tried to focus on my golf round and play a good 18 holes and then probably the emotions will come.”
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