2005: LPGA - Attitude adjustment pays off for Ward

An attitude change and a familiar face have helped Wendy Ward start 2005 headed in the right direction.

Ward, sporting a fresh, can-do mindset, held off a charging Lorena Ochoa by two strokes April 16 to win the Takefuji Classic at Las Vegas Country Club.

Ward said she firmly believed she was going to win.

“Every player who comes out here says, ‘My goal is to win each week,’ ” said Ward, who collected her fourth LPGA title. “You can say that, but for me, I’ve to stand over every shot I hit and believe that I can make it. That was the difference for me.”

Ward, 31, has been consulting with sports psychologist Debbie Crews. She told Crews she was trying as hard as she could, and Crews said, “I want you to quit trying and start believing.”

Leading wire to wire, Ward shot a bogey-free 67 to finish at 16 under and earn $165,000.

Ochoa, who shot a course-record 63 Friday, kept the pressure on with a closing 65.

“I did everything I could do and Wendy just had a great day, she never went down,” Ochoa said. “Every time I looked behind, she was close to the pin and people were clapping.”

Holding a two-shot lead over Ochoa, Ward two-putted the final hole for par.

Ward received an assist from her husband, Nate Hair, at the 12th hole. Leading by one stroke, Ward’s tee shot on the par-4, 372-yard hole strayed to the right, in the rough near an out-of-bounds stake. Hair was walking down the side of the fairway and signaled that the ball was OK.

“Being lazy sometimes, I didn’t want to walk all the way down there and have to walk all the way back (to hit another ball), so I was trying to wait for a signal,” Ward said. “He gave me the signal – safe.”

She recovered by pitching to 8 feet, then rolled in the birdie putt to get to 15 under. A birdie at No. 16 secured the two-stroke margin of victory.

Ward has a good success rate when Hair is in the gallery. “He doesn’t get to come out too often, but he is 4-for-4 on wins,” Ward told the Las Vegas Review Journal.

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