The Associated Press
The Associated Press
REUNION, Fla. – Former Arizona Wildcat Lorena Ochoa got off to a solid start Thursday in a bid for her fourth consecutive victory and fifth in six starts this year.
Playing for the fourth straight week, Ochoa shot a 4-under 68 in the first round of the Ginn Open to finish a stroke behind leaders Carin Koch and Teresa Lu.
Ochoa had plenty of company there. Karrie Webb, Suzann Pettersen, Charlotte Mayorkas, Mhairi McKay, Allison Fouch and Yani Tseng also were a stroke back.
Still, for the first time in a while, the field wasn’t chasing the world’s No. 1 player.
Ochoa led start to finish in her native Mexico last week in an 11-stroke victory at the Corona Championship.
“Of course, I like my position right now,” Ochoa said. “I’m not usually a player that comes from behind. It’s impossible, I guess, to be winning a tournament by seven shots the first day. You have to move your way out there. That’s why I feel very happy with my round.”
She enjoyed a 7-stroke win at the Safeway International three weeks ago, then followed with a 5-shot victory in the first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
She has won four of five events this year and is looking to become the first player since ex-Wildcat Annika Sorenstam in 2001 to win four consecutive starts.
Ochoa probably would have been out front Thursday had she not missed short birdie putts on Nos. 1, 2 and 3 to start her back nine. It got worse when she three-putted the par-4 eighth and made her only bogey of the round. She rebounded with a birdie on the par-5 ninth.
Ochoa said she played a little cautiously on a windy day with dry fairways and fast greens.
With a morning tee time Friday, Ochoa expected to be much more aggressive.
“I’m in position and I’m going to make sure I give myself a good chance to win the tournament,” she said.
The 26-year-old star had the largest gallery of the field following her around the Ginn Reunion Resort. The crowd helped keep Ochoa from feeling completely worn after so many rounds without much of a break.
“I’m still a little bit tired,” she said. “I wouldn’t say it’s all the energy that I ever felt, but I’m OK. I think I’m hanging in there. If I knew I had maybe two more tournaments coming, I would be crying right now.”
Juli Inkster (69), Sorenstam (70) and Morgan Pressel (72) weren’t far behind, among 65 players who shot par or better.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Davis Love III is back on top at Harbour Town.
The five-time tournament champion shot a 5-under 66 for a share of the first-round lead in the Verizon Heritage with Justin Leonard and Lucas Glover.
The 44-year-old Love has struggled to bounce back from tearing ligaments in his left ankle last September, and failed to qualify for the Masters, missing his first major championship since the 1990 U.S. Open.
Leonard won the 2002 Harbour Town event.
A large group a stroke behind the leaders included two-time Heritage winner Stewart Cink and Camilo Villegas. Ex-Arizona Wildcat Jim Furyk was another shot back at 68.