For much of her college career, Stacy Prammanasudh played second-fiddle to Lorena Ochoa. At the Franklin American Mortgage Championship, however, Prammanasudh (PRAH-manna-sood) made sure it didn’t happen again.
Prammanasudh made birdie on Nos. 16 and 17 to pull away from Ochoa and earn her first LPGA victory May 1 at the same place where Ochoa earned her first tour title last year. Prammanasudh closed with a 3-under 69 for a 14-under 274 total, three shots in front of Ochoa, who birdied No. 18.
The two squared off many times in college when Prammanasudh was at Tulsa and Ochoa at Arizona. Ochoa, who won 12 events in two seasons, finished her college career at No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, while Prammanasudh, with 10 victories in four years, was a distant No. 2.
“She won almost every collegiate event she played in,” Prammanasudh said after her 7-under 65 that gave her a two-shot lead over Ochoa heading into Sunday. “I just know she’s mentally tough and that I have to go out and beat her and whoever else.”
Ochoa continued to hold the upper hand in their first two years as pros. Ochoa was named LPGA Rookie
of the Year in 2003, as Prammanasudh was earning her LPGA card by finishing No. 1 on the Futures Tour. Last season, Ochoa won twice and was No. 3 in LPGA earnings. Prammanasudh was No. 31 with a career-best third at the Franklin American, two shots behind Ochoa.
This year at the Vanderbilt Legends Club, it was “Stacy P” who was in command. For the week, Prammanasudh hit 52 of 56 fairways (92.9 percent) and 62 of 72 greens in regulation (86.1 percent).
Early Sunday, it looked as if Ochoa’s hold over her college rival might continue, as Ochoa birdied No. 2 and Prammanasudh bogeyed the par-3 third to leave the pair tied. But a turning point came at the par-4 sixth, where Prammanasudh made a 10-footer for birdie and Ochoa three-putted to fall two shots back again.
“I knew that if I put a good stroke on it and I could make that one, it would give me a little momentum,” said Prammanasudh, who earned $150,000. “Whenever those two shots came around, I realized, ‘OK, I am in the driver’s seat. Just get it done.’ ”
She then birdied the par-5 seventh, nearly holing her chip from the fringe and tapping in for birdie to get to 12 under. Ochoa tried to cut into the lead at No. 8, but her 7-foot birdie putt lipped out. She also missed birdie chances at Nos. 10, 11, 15, 16 and 17.
“I always felt like I had a chance on the back nine,” Ochoa said. “She just didn’t let me breathe.”
Prammanasudh sank a 10-foot birdie at No. 16, then at the par-4 17th, she spun the ball back to within 6 feet and made the putt to extend her lead to four.
“My dad called me before the round and said ‘It’s just like college today,’ ” Ochoa said.
Except this time, Prammanasudh ended up No. 1.
– Staff and wire reports