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Ochoa glad family can watch her defend title

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

MORELIA, Mexico – The timing was perfect for ex-Arizona Wildcat Lorena Ochoa.

The 25-year-old Mexican star took the top spot in the world rankings from ex-Cat Annika Sorenstam on Monday, just days before she opened her title defense in the Corona Morelia Championship at Tres Marias. The event starts today.

The victory at Tres Marias was the seventh in her LPGA career but her first LPGA win in Mexico.

“I think it’s twice as special defending here,” she said. “It’s like a nice surprise because I’m at home and I can share with the people I love, my family, the media and everybody. So it’s twice as special.”

Last year at Tres Marias, which is just 175 miles from Ochoa’s native Guadalajara, she beat Paraguay’s Julieta Granada by five strokes for her first LPGA Tour win in Mexico.

“It feels great and gives me a huge motivation playing among Mexicans,” Ochoa said. “These are people who have been following my career for a long time and have a share in my success.”

Ochoa moved to No. 1 in the rankings Monday with 12.84 points, 0.14 ahead of Sorenstam. Ochoa described the feeling of finally topping Sorenstam, who had led the list since the rankings began in February 2006 but has who has been sidelined by a ruptured disk in her back, as a “dream come true.”

“It’s incredible. I’m very emotional,” Ochoa said. “Getting the telephone call that I’m No. 1 was just amazing.”

Ochoa, who won six times last year and was the tour’s player of the year, could have gone to No. 1 by winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship a month ago and the Ginn Open that ended April 15. She made a double bogey on the final hole at the Ginn Open to finish one shot behind Brittany Lincicome.

Ochoa has often struggled in her homeland. In the 2005 tournament she tied for 16th, while the crown was taken by Sweden’s Carin Koch.

She was also a nonfactor in the 2005 and 2006 MasterCard Classic tournaments in Huixquilucan, outside Mexico City, and she struggled to tie for sixth there this year.

“Sometimes, you can make mistakes under pressure, but I’ve learned to deal with the pressure during my career,” she said. “I’m going to play smart. My goal is to enjoy as much as I can the week, and I think we will be in good shape.”

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