2004: Ochoa finding a solid niche among elite
It hasn’t taken Lorena Ochoa long to join the LPGA’s elite. Last year’s Rookie of the Year has become one of this year’s hottest players.
Ochoa birdied three of the last four holes to overcome a five-stroke deficit and win the Wachovia LPGA Classic Aug. 29. It was her sixth consecutive top-6 finish, and she became only the fifth LPGA player to win multiple titles in 2004.
The native of Mexico shot 65 in the final round to finish at 19-under 269, two shots ahead of third-round leader Grace Park (72), who suffered a rare final-round stumble. It was the first time in Park’s professional career she had lost a tournament after leading after three rounds.
The $150,000 first-place check gave Ochoa more than $1.2 million in 2004 earnings, and she is No. 3 on the LPGA money list.
Short shots: After a strong start to the 2004 season, Park has missed much of the past two months because of a sore back – the Wachovia was only her fifth event since the McDonald’s LPGA Championship in mid-June – but showed her health and her game is coming back with an eagle-birdie-birdie finish in Round 3 that gave her a tournament-record 17-under 199 through 54 holes. . . . Park’s 54-hole record was only part of a record-setting week at Berkleigh Country Club. Jill McGill opened 66-64 to set a 36-hole record at 14-under 130, breaking the old mark by four strokes, and Suzann Pettersen tied the tournament’s single-round mark with a second-round 63. . . . 2003 U.S. Women’s Open champion Hilary Lunke shot a career-best 66 to share the first-round lead.
– Staff and wire reports
Next up: John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic, Sept. 10-12, Cedar Ridge Country Club, Broken Arrow, Okla. Defending champion: Karrie Webb.
The buzz: Webb ended her year-long victory drought in a big way in Tulsa, winning by nine strokes.