2005: LPGA - Ochoa’s blitz sacks Creamer

Pittsford, N.Y.

It wasn’t a very long drought, but Lorena Ochoa was beginning to wonder. Three runner-up finishes and no victories in 2005, plus that blown four-stroke lead with three holes to play in March at the Safeway International.

It’s amazing what five consecutive birdies can cure.

Down five shots to Paula Creamer with seven holes remaining, Ochoa, 23, fashioned a late comeback of her own to surge to a four-stroke victory June 19 at the Wegmans Rochester LPGA. Her final-round 65 gave her a 15-under 273 and her third career title.

“I’ve been knocking on the door, and this was just meant to be,” said Ochoa, who earned $225,000 for her first victory since the 2004 Wachovia LPGA Classic. “I’m really thankful for this win.”

After finishing 3 over on her last three holes at the Safeway, then losing a playoff to Annika Sorenstam, Ochoa was happy to be the one charging from behind in Rochester. This time – in a duel between two of the LPGA’s young stars – Creamer, 18, was the victim.

“Everything happens so fast when you’re out there,” said Ochoa, recalling her loss to Sorenstam in Phoenix. “I was just really focused.”

Just as Ochoa was dialing in, Creamer was struggling with three back-nine bogeys, a tough lesson for the recent high school graduate who was looking for her second victory in four weeks after winning the Sybase Classic on May 22. She missed short putts on the final two holes as well as a 1-footer on No. 1.

“She just went birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie,” said Creamer, who finished at 11-under 277, one shot ahead of Rosie Jones. “It was a train and it just kept going through, making no stops. If I was going to get beat, that’s the way I wanted to get beat, (by) just someone who lit it up.”

What was really impressive was how easy Ochoa’s birdies were, and the fact that none of them were on par 5s. Thanks to her precision iron play, her birdie putts on Nos. 12-16 were from 3, 8, 9, 5 and 4 feet, respectively. She capped her day with a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole, with the ball rolling around the edge of the cup before falling in.

“It’s hard to realize right now what I did,” Ochoa said. “You have to just really believe – and make it real.”

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